Notes from Future of Sound / Light

March 31, 2009 at 7:08 pm (Research, Lectures & Contextualisation)

I attend another lecture / performance at Goldsmiths last week. The topics of discussion were:


“Multi senses and Multimedia” by Julian Henriques,

“Audiovision and Cognition” by Mick Grierson,

“Photophonics” by Rob Mullender,

“Body>Data>Space” by Ghislaine Boddington,

“Tonewheels” by Derek Holzer,

“Graphic Sound: Technology, Music and Science” by Andrey Smirnov,




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Barry Truax – Soundscape composition lecture / performance

March 31, 2009 at 6:25 pm (Research, Lectures & Contextualisation)

Two weeks ago I attended a lecture by Barry Truax at Goldsmiths. Barry Truax is professor in School of Communication & School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraiser University in Canada. He has been involved with the World Soundscape Project and written a great deal about acousitic ecology and communication.

In this lecture he played several soundscape compositions on an 8-channel diffusion/surround sound system. I can’t quite describe how amazing the experience was. The depth of realism within the pieces was incredible. The spatialisation of sound over so many speakers really does set up the illusion that you are ‘there’, providing you engage your ears and visualize. In the second part of his lecture he covered some of his research and approaches to soundscape composition, very stimulating.

There are a number of his papers online, which can be found here:


This is an excerpt the paper Soundscape Composition as Global Music: Electroacoustic Music as Soundscape, in which he defines criteria for soundscape composition.


” (a) listener recognizability of the source material is maintained, even if it subsequently undergoes transformation; 


(b) the listener’s knowledge of the environmental and psychological context of the soundscape material is invoked and encouraged to complete the network of meanings ascribed to the music; 


(c) the composer’s knowledge of the environmental and psychological context of the soundscape material is allowed to influence the shape of the composition at every level, and ultimately the composition is inseparable from some or all of those aspects of reality; and ideally, 


(d) the work enhances our understanding of the world, and its influence carries over into everyday perceptual habits. “

Published in Organised Sound, 13(2), 103-109, 2008. 


I’ve been thinking about some of these approaches too, with regards to my ideas:



The real vs unreal relates to criteria A. I talked about this in my prototypes – the importance of recognition of the source. 

The lecture also made me consider the possibility of using surround sound, as well as questioning whether or not my recordings are of high enough quality to recreate a realistic representation of certain places.

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Visual Scores

March 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm (Visualisations)

I undertook this MA because I wanted to expand my understanding of possible relationships between sound and image. In relation to my project this moved forward to exploring the possible relationship between the soundscape and our perception of urban environments. 

Originally I envisaged my final work as a full-on audio-visual experience, but after deciding that sound should be the main communication device within the work, the visual aspect has found a new home within my process and methodologies.

I will primarily be using drawing to react to the sounds I’m working with, developing visual scores which stem from the sound recordings I’ve made and my experience of the urban spaces encountered during my journeys. I’ve chosen drawing because I enjoy the immediacy of it and the ease with which one can create gestural responses to sound. However, I won’t limit myself to drawing just yet. As I work on my compositions over the next 3 months, I may feel the need to experiment with digital manipulation of the photographs I’ve taken during my journey. Guess I’ll play it by ear!




This is one process I’ve been thinking about implementing:

1. Make sound sketches (e.g. sketch X, Y, Z) of different types of sonic activity based on my audio recordings of particular spaces. (e.g. space A)


2. Re-visit these spaces / re-walk the journey and listen to the sound sketches.

E.g.    A with X

            A with Y

            A with Z


3.  Whilst listening to X, then Y, then Z, interpret space A visually by drawing it.


How does X, Y and Z change how we perceive A ?

What new ideas can be generated from the experience as a whole ?


4. Treat the drawing as a visual score; interpret the image as a scene to compose sound to.


5. Think about how the final composed soundscape-spaces could then be interpreted as colour?



This possibly means leap frogging during each weeks composition….


Compose = C first 2 days , last 4 days in a week

Revisit Locations = RL 1 day in a week

C – C – RL – C – C – C -C


By revisiting spaces / embarking on journeys once again, I think I’ll be able to evaluate how the soundscape and its possible transformations effect my perception of the urban environmental to greater extent. Instead of solely revisiting spaces via memory and imagination, I can experience how my variations on sound material ‘truly’ alter my perception of the spaces they were derived from within the present moment! In a way I would be bringing time back in to the equation…

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Mapping tactics !

March 31, 2009 at 1:45 pm (Visualisations)

The visual element of my work will take a minimal form within the final installation.

Instead I’ve decided to incorporate it more in to my process.


I’m trying to think of alternative ways to link my sound compositions.

After tracing my routes and colouring them, I tried arranging them in different ways.



The end of 1 journey is linked to the start of journey 2.

Nothing has been scaled or rotated.



North-South Loops:

Grouping N and S journeys from each bridge.

e.g. Either N or S journey from a group is inverted to create a loop (e.g. end of N linked to the start of the S). 

I have scaled and stretched routes to join them.


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10 Journeys // useful numbers ?

March 31, 2009 at 12:12 pm (Artists Statement & Reflection, Main Derives)

I decided to reduce the amount of journeys to 10 due to time constraints.

Now that all my derives are complete and all my sound material is prepared,

I will spend the remaining 12 weeks composing.



I’ve been doing a few calculations which may feed in to how I work with my sound material:



Approximate journey distances (km = miles) // time (hrs/min) // avr. speed (S – mph):

50mm = 1 km (map ratio)

TBS – 600mm = 12 km = 7.5 miles
// 4hr 57m = 4.95 hr
S = 7.5 / 4.95 = 1.52 mph

TBN – 250mm = 5 km = 3.1 miles
// 3hr27m = 3.45 hr
S = 3.1 / 3.45 = 0.9 mph

LBS – 250mm = 5 km = 3.1 miles
// 3hr15m = 3.25 hr
S = 3.1 / 3.25 = 0.95 mph

LBN – 330mm = 5.6 km = 3.5 miles
// 1hr54m = 1.9 hr
S = 3.5 / 1.9 hr = 1.84 mph

GJBS – 230mm = 4.6 km = 2.9 miles
// 1hr34m = 1.56 hr
S = 2.9 / 1.56 = 1.86 mph

GJBN – 320mm = 5.6 km = 3.5 miles
// 3hr14m = 3.23 hr
S = 3.5 / 3.23 = 1.08 mph

VBS – 470mm = 9.4 km = 5.8 miles
// 4hr27m = 4.45 hr
S = 5.8 / 4.45 = 1.3 mph

VBN – 320mm = 6.4 km = 4 miles
// 2hr20m = 2.33 hr
S = 4 / 2.33 = 1.72 mph

ABS – 280mm = 5.6 km = 3.5 miles
// 3hr29m = 3.48 hr
S = 3.5 / 3.48 = 1.01 mph

ABN – 510mm = 10.2 km = 6.3 miles (1 dp)
// 4hr5m = 4.08 hr (2dp)
S = 6.3 / 4.08 = 1.54 mph

Total distance = 69.4 km = 43.1 miles
Total time = 32hr 42 m = 32.7
Total average speed = 1.32 mph (2 dp) or 1.372 mph (using rounded S)


I could, for example, use the distance of a journey as time signature (e.g. 3.5 miles = 3/5 sig),

scale the journeys time length as total time for a composition (e.g. 1hr54 = 1m54sec),

use the average speed to set the beats per minute / tempo (1.84mph = 184 bpm)


Chronological order of journeys:

 LBN    – 09.01.10
LBS    – 09.01.11
GJBS – 09.01.14
GJBN – 09.01.28
VBN    – 09.01.29
TBN    – 09.02.04
VBS    – 09.02.19
ABS    – 09.02.20
ABN    – 09.02.21
TBS     – 09.03.11


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Improvisations and sketches

March 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm (Logic Progress)

I’ve been making a large batch of EXS24 instruments in Logic 8, derived from field recordings made during my journeys around London. This is an edited version of the improv using these instruments.

I slowly built up loops live, altering tempo, pitch, cutoff frequency and other parameters within the EXS24 via midi keyboard automation, and Logic in TOUCH mode.

Although Logic isn’t really geared for live improvisation, there are ways to work with it which can yield interesting results. And of course, it’s a much more engaging way of making music, rather than programming. I will try and push this further.

I made a few quick sketches /loops as I was preparing my sound material. All elements were practised, tuned (pitch) and recorded in live (using midi keyboard), which left the grooves quite loose and ‘natural’ sounding.

Though these sketches may work ‘musically’ speaking, they perhaps don’t give an impression of what particular spaces sound like. There is no sense of realism about them, in the way the sounds behave and react with one another. I want to develop a compositional approach that strikes a balance between depicting a space ‘realistically’ with sound and transforming the sound to explore how the imagined space mutates.

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Derive from Tower Bridge (South)

March 16, 2009 at 1:17 pm (Main Derives)


Date: 09.03.11

Start location / time: Tower Bridge @ 14.28


End location / time: North Greenwich Tube @ 19:25

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Window Music (Aerial Conflict Mix)

March 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm (Visualisations)


This work was shown as part of the Timewarp show at Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay, Singapore:


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