This is an excerpt – at the moment a thumbnail sketch- from a commissioned piece for Audiograft 2017 and currently a work in progress. This sound work will be a performance of recorded sound heard via multiple hand held speakers in amongst an audience. It will focus on sound from pulsars found in and outside our galaxy. Different rhythmic pulses heard in the work will correspond to the rotations of different pulsars. Jodrel Bank research describes a pulsar as,
‘ …a highly magnetized neutron star, with a radius of 10-15 km. Radiation is beamed out along the magnetic poles and pulses of radiation are received as the beam crosses the Earth.’ http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/research/pulsar/Education/Sounds/sounds.html (12.1.2017)
The distance between the listener and the original source creating the energy we eventually hear is extreme. Although the amount of light years varies for each different pulsar heard in the work, in the course of attempting to think about these distances our imagined landscape is extended, via the sound.
This piece progresses the work I have done in the practical research for my PhD where I sonified live streamed alpha muons (cosmic rays) to an attic in Bristol. (You Are Here – 2013 http://vimeo.com/111437221). The energy source of the alpha muons was estimated to be from the galaxy Centaurus A or NGC – 5182 and situated 11 million light years from earth.
Here below is an excerpt from the sound track that accompanies Primal (2016) a short film by Vicky Smith. The film is distributed by CMIR and has also been performed with live sound track at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2016 and Visions in the Nunnery Festival at Bow Arts London 2016 amongst others.
As an immersive photochemical and sonic experimental performance, the sounds from the cello played with different materials, i.e. paper plastic and tin, go hand in hand with the analogue nature of the filmmaker’s process – physically marking the 16mm film stock.
Also in the audio track are pre recorded subterranean sounds played from a laptop. The sounds, recorded with a basic pick up and metal sheeting clamped to bedrock, are in synthesis with the visual elemental energies and ‘primal’ intentions of the film.
This excerpt is from the end of the film PLAY IT LOUD!
Sonic Hide and Seek features active listening where the participants’ aural landscape is extended. Ear extensions or low-tech listening devices are individually constructed by the participants. These amplifying devices increase the capacity of the listeners’ ears to listen overhead, into and above trees, and also into small hidden crevices, down holes and along tracks. In the city similarly, listening above the rooftops and down alleyways – Breaking The Rules 2016 BEEF Summer School.
photo Tanya Moulson – Nonhearing or Nonseeing
Part of the activities include a collaborative tracking game which involves two people, one non-seeing listener and one non-hearing guide, helping each other to follow a sound. When one sense (either hearing or seeing) is impaired, the other senses then became more focused creating an alternative sensory experience.
photo Tanya Moulson – Listening Up
Manipulating the imagined geographic journeying of sound to our ears causes us to think, not only about the space around us but our habits of hearing and our ability to listen.
Sonic Hide and Seek has visited:
Sound Territories – Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts – Northants
Fir Tree School – Wallingford, Oxfordshire
South Wales University – Cardiff
Breaking the Rules – BEEF Summer School – Bristol
Round the Square was a site-specific sound performance outside in a square, where the surfaces of the pavement, path and road were ‘sounded out’ or ‘played’ by metal rims of different sizes being bowled along over them. A cohort of runners and walkers set off at a given time, to bowl along the rings and anyone could join in (40 rings were available.)
The texture of the surfaces, the size and type of the metal and the resonance of the space, along with the number and speed of the metal rings, created the sound. The sight of sound being made so simply, contrasted with the complex sound it created. Players stopped and started, went faster or slower when they pleased, and handed over their hoop when they had finished. The fact that it was dark gave an atmosphere to the proceedings. There was a transfer of the collaborative energy of the players to the sound.
The sound rang out amplified by the physical dimensions of the square itself, and continually changed according to one’s position in the square. While the sound and sound makers travelled, the square was used as a musical instrument.
The work pays homage to the centuries of boots, hooves and wheels that have sounded out and rounded the square.
I went to record sound from under the floor at the Bristol Old Vic main stage. The final 4min edit was played on the anniversary of their 250th birthday. The curtains went up, audience viewed an empty lit stage and heard the sound track I had pre recorded entirely from under the stage. The sounds were from their most recent show, but this audience was required – invited to create a show from their own imaginations.
Stage and Auditorium
The stage was hardboard, chipboard and floorboards over my head. I had borrowed a Maranz PMD620MKll sound recorder plus a rifle mic, 2 hydrophones (working as pickup mics placed flat to the wall joists) and my own Edirol R 09.
The sounds from the floor above were clear and audible also through the structural joists. As well as directly overhead there were sounds from backstage including tannoy calls and actors and props getting on stage via the trap door beside me (including buckets of water.)
Best with headphones
Recordings from Below Stage
The opportunity to record under the stage for the birthday arose when I approached them to record under the stage for my own research. I had become interested in the idea of recording under floors – looking up at the ceiling below to listen. So to start I went to record under stage floors. The Theatre Royal Bath, the Cube Cinema Bristol (with stage) and the Bristol Old Vic each held different ‘flavours’ and ‘atmospheres’.
I took note of the dragging rolling and dropping of objects, the walking, stepping, running, shouting and mumbling heard from underneath. The different floor materials gave up (down) varied sound qualities. I found that listening like this, at once ‘removed’ by the materials of the ceiling and building, but also physically connected to them, created a strange feeling of ‘displacement’. A feeling I’d like to find out more about.
Best with headphones
Under Theatre Royal
Under Cube Cinema
Old Vic Through The Joists
I wrote down
Beyond our sight – in another place we’re called upon to imagine -– not quite known – wood and dust – musty – underground – beyond our experience – beyond borders – cement – hidden – identity – muffled – close – aware of breathing – space – air space – shout – listen