In our exercise with sound I wanted to try and foreground elements that take our primary preoccupation away from the text and the word.
By chance an interesting set of documentaries have been playing on BBC 4 about these sound experiments. I want to make an analogy between sound composition and the construction of moving image that we are engaged in.
The series concludes with the focus shifting to the United States in the post-war years of the 1950s and beyond. Beginning with arguably the most notorious work of 20th century classical music, John Cage’s ‘silent’ composition 4’33”, it looks at how a series of maverick Americans re-invented the sound of classical music into a more simple form, bringing back harmonies and rhythms that made it increasingly popular with audiences across the world. It also examines how this music found its way into a spiritual realm, with the strain of pared-down religious composition that came to be known as ‘holy minimalism’.
From the Maverick concert hall in Woodstock, New York to an Orthodox cathedral in Estonia to a car park in Peckham, south London, the story is told by a stellar line-up of contributors including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, Arvo Pärt and John Tavener.
All these names are worth investigating. One particular name was mentioned Terry Riley the composer that made the piece called “in c”.
There is an excerpt of one of his other pieces:”A rainbow in curved air”
If we look at any of the editing software that we use it has similar elements and most are metaphors from film editing done long ago with celluloid and cutting and sticking reels of film togehter.
If we look at the software we have the timeline, we have the area that we place all of our clips and the editing windows where we assemble our footage and sound together.
The timeline presents the linear sequence of time, how long clips are and how long the whole assembly is.
This runs horizontally from left to right on the screen. We then have the vertical elements that can be placed around and layered one on top of the other along this sequential timeline.
It therefore works in a similar way to a musical score. We have the time of the piece but also layered vertically in time are the various elements of the orchestra availble to the composer, percussion, wind, strings etc.
For the exercise that we are currently doing I want you to focus on this analogy with composing.
So how did we go about the sound task, what decisions did we make to create our 30seconds?
I will show how I went about this first before sharing your pieces.
I spent a limited time doing this, 1 hour recording whilst at the garage, and 1 hour editing the sounds together.
I made a few decisions about how I would proceed:
I didn’t change the time of the sound clips
I allowed myself to cut the sounds
I layered the sounds
Repeated some sounds
Reversed some sounds
Currently their is an interesting film out just dealing with the creation of sound in film called “Berberian Sound Studio”
I want to take this experiment further by now introducing visual elements. These can be refined between now and next week.
You have to follow particular rules with the visuals that you use.
The visuals can include moving image as well as stills.
The visuals must be non representational/abstract. We musn’t be able to recognise the objects that the images are derived from.
You choose them on the basis of colour, shape and the rhythm they might create when place together and with the sounds.
They should not be related in any direct way with the sounds. Ie you have the sound of an engine, don’t show an engine.