I find it both a joy, and a challenge, pairing sounds I’ve captured within a live performance. Sounds are intrinsically complex, and not transcribable using traditional notation. The use of recording equipment and computers makes their use with acoustic instruments very possible, and lends a larger sonic vocabulary than musical instruments alone, essentially creating a new kind of orchestration.
As I continue this exploration of natural sonic environments, particularly those of the far north, the realization of how human sounds are affecting the environment, and not in positive ways, has become apparent. It’s remarkable just how much man-made noise there is. Noise that we take for granted but is disturbing when we stop and listen. The sound of traffic, for example: trucks, cars, and noisy mufflers. If I stop and listen, it drives me batty! It would seem every airplane headed east to Europe flies directly over my house. And when I record in remote locations, inevitably the noises from the communities – the garbage trucks, heavy machinery, and really loud electric generators (mostly coal and oil) – permeate the sonic background.
My working method for an electroacoustic composition (using field recordings) tends to be:
- Investigate the subject.
- Experience the place –– spend some time there, and record sounds.
- Listen carefully to the recorded sounds, particularly for the sonic and emotional content of the sounds.
- Choose particularly evocative sounds to utilize in establishing a structure for the compositions.
- Create new sounds that are informed from my research and travels.
- Compose the work with the emotional reaction to the place firmly in mind.
For a more in-depth look you can read through the following article by W.L. Altman as published in Musicworks Magazine:
He highlights my work with the Kronos Quartet and Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq. Click on expand for a larger version. If the document is not visible, click here.