Tuesday September 28, 2010

Aural Terrains

Thursday was the start of our new Studio project, and audio/sound-based one.

Our class was divided into 2, swapping activities on the 2 days. Our group went on a sound walk. We had a brief chat with a guest tutor and then followed him around the city completely quiet. We were to listen to the sounds around us. We were told small tricks such as counting the distinct sounds which enabled us to be more concious of what we were actually hearing. We were also to try to separate the sound from what we thought was making it. For example if we heard a bag dragged across concrete rather than associating the sound with something being dragged, just hear the sound detached from it's source. Hear it's qualities, not what is making possibly it. This is more difficult than it seems. It's something I thought I regularly do but when asked to actually do it consciously, it was automatic to associate it with the source.

I spent the first few minutes of the walk actively trying to get music out of my head (various The Doors songs lately if you must know, I've been having a renaissance).

We were told of movements of people which slight political agendas who separate "Natural" sounds from "Unnatural" sounds (city noise etc) and about how our guest tutor somewhat disagreed with this movement as all sound it natural even if it's man-made. My first argumentative thought was Synthesis or better, sound modelling where instruments that could not possibly exist in real life are modelled so we hear what they sound like.

Friday we swapped and our half met up at Auckland University Architecture department to see the Anechon Chamber (not sure why it's in that department) and it's opposite, an echo chamber. The Anechon Chamber is filled completely with sound-deadening material (some kind of foam I imagine).

Inside the Anechoic Chamber

The walls, the ceiling and the floor. Visitors actually stand on wire above the floor. The wire is just about the only hard reflective surface in the room. Entering makes one's ears tighten up (noticeably usually) as they attempt to hear what they are used to hearing: sound reflections. It's very quiet in the room. I've been there before as a kid on a Uni open day and I think that played a part in the feeling not being as dramatic as I remember. Possibly also that about 10 people were in the room so there were plenty of surfaces for sound to reflect off. While not as dramatic as I remember the first time, the reverb in the normal room next door was very apparent once I exited the chamber.

Another effect of the Anechon Chamber is you can hear your own internal noises more. People often discover mild tinnitus. I was mildly surprised that I didn't while younger classmates did. I've been to quite a few loud gigs and stood next to the speaker (I wouldn't normally do that).

We also had a brief hearing test, and a few other things were explained to us such as how the ear worked.

A couple of other interesting things, we were exposed to some wav files of music, speech and traffic (I think) with different amounts of reverb applied. The ones with less, meant to sound like they were in a furnished and an empty living room for example to me sounded like they had too much reverb applied. It's possible that it's because we were already listening to them in a mocked up living room. It's also possible that one does not notice the reverb because we are accustomed to it. Later in the following week (yes I'm getting ahead of myself) I was surprised at just how much reverb there is in my own recordings of various indoor situations.

The last interesting thing was that the music wav, when played with enough reverb to simulate a music chamber, that's when it sounded best to me. Is that because it suits that environment or is it just because that's what I'm used to?

    Friday October 1, 2010

Week 1. - Noise

On Tuesday morning we had class, and introduced ourselves to our guest tutor who will be taking us for this project. We were shown a pile of interesting links including https://aporee.org/maps/ where I'm required to upload some of my own sounds. We had a guest who had a small record label and produced compositions of noise. We listened to one for a few minutes and it really was noise. That said there was a definite progression. Which lead me to a thought as I noticed slight impatience. Some of the more artistic and conceptual pieces require a listener to pay attention for an extended amount of time because the progress is slow. But it can be rewarding. Some pieces are drawn out and that is the point. You cannot get the experience from it if it was short. There is no radio edit mix, not cliff notes version. The experience is fundamentally tied to the length.

Anyway, we were then introduced to a new piece of equipment, the Zoom recorder. We got into groups of 3 or 4 and embarked on recording the city. Out group walked to a construction site at the bottom of town that I'd noticed a couple of days earlier was mildly interesting to listen to. Well I thought so anyway. We also walked around the waterfront and recorded the sea, fountains, birds, cars and possibly all the usual stuff one records when given a recorder for the first time. At the end of the week we were to have made a composition no longer than 3 minutes of sounds. We were also to make individual compositions. We were to get away from the idea of being musical and concentrate on just the sounds. We were not allowed to treat the sounds, other than cutting up or layering if we so wished - but we didn't have to chop anything up.

On Wednesday we had another guest. He was also interested in noise, and had engineer friends build him a couple of different analogue noise boxes. We were treated to a slideshow of various equipment he used and how it was set up. I found it all rather interesting. The noise boxes would be fed into a mixing desk which would then loop back into itself a couple of times and then to other equipment, possibly including an old Panasonic vision mixing desk. He'd then feed all of that into a second mixer for final mix down and he'd record as a live performance. It all appealed on some level, possibly because I've mucked around with old equipment in similar ways in the now distant past. It makes me lament how I've left ideas behind or discarded stuff as junk or previously written off possible experiments because they weren't some sort of established musical theory.

Anyway, the our guest also mixed audio and video into the vision mixer and projected it in artspaces and has managed to sell pieces.

We also listened to various links, including a genre called glitch music. I was quite surprised how familiar it sounded, something you'd likely hear on bfm and very appealing to me. Glitch music concentrates on the mistakes of electronica and makes a track from it. The example we heard was apparently from a guy who buys CDs, scribbles on them with a market then plays the result.

I've never really tried to compose such music but it sounded similar to something I'd like to make. I'd have wasted hours try to do something that is actually much more random and the result of errors. There is a lesson in there, that music and sound is much more organically produced than attempting to score everything either on paper or as midi data or as "non-destructive" audio data. It's not all like photoshop with adjustment layers. Sometimes you have to feed back and destroy the original and sometimes you don't know what you will end up with until you do it. I enjoy lessons like that because until this course I've constrained myself way too much. In some ways an experimental approach is easier, although I guess one can produce more waste.

Our group did some more recording in the afternoon.

Thursday our we looked at more interesting links, such as John Cage and his 4:30 silent piece. We sat through the whole thing and this once again brought home the "no radio edit mix" idea. He also had a really nice piece (I thought) that consisted of him playing a piano that had nails, screws and unidentified plastic objects jammed in the piano strings.

The days had sort of built up on each other slowly and it would be nice to think that this exploration might lead anyone who currently listens to say, ZM (or just about any commercial station really, but they are a good one to pick on) for their daily dose of compressed sugarwater crud might suddenly start hearing it for the abomination that it is...

We also touched on Delia Derbyshire, an early electronic music composer best known for realising the Doctor Who theme - a bit of music I have a slight fascination with.

Our group started to piece together some of the sounds. I hadn't had the chance to record my own sounds yet as there was one recorder and everyone had a turn so I was mildly anxious to do that instead. It was a bit difficult to work as a group on the sound editing for a few reasons, one is that there were no real quiet spaces for us to work together. I went for lunch and took the recorder and recorded a local food court and came back 2 members had begun to make good progress. I hung around for a while but it was a bit pointless, with studio noise, and a small mac screen and I was much more interested in my own composition anyway. I put on my headphones and listened to their progress, liked what I'd heard, made a couple of suggestions and went home to record more of my sounds.

There is a park across the road from where I currently live, so I tried to get as far away from the busy road as possible about there would always be distant road noise.

I recorded a stream but doubted I'd use it as water recordings seem like an obvious choice and a bit clichéd. I cranked up the recorder to it's highest settings (96khz/24bit) and recorded birds, ambiance, me walking on gravel, cars, a truck parked up near by (the driver took issue at first, I don't know what he thought I was doing).

What was interesting was all the sounds that I thought might be interesting were pretty lame. It was unplanned recordings that where generally much more interesting.

I mucked around in garage band but couldn't find the automation controls and it was getting late. I wound up editing it all in Adobe Premiere which may seem odd but it worked quite well. Given more time I'd try to edit it in a dedicated audio application.

The composition kept me up quite late (or early should I say). I'm not entirely happy with it, I think it's a bit obvious and perhaps falls into the trap of being too rhythmic. When I recorded myself walking on gravel I already had an idea that it had a march to it and I'd make use of that. I think that was a mistake, too staged and too musical which is a little hard to avoid when it's second nature to put musical structure to something. That said it's not too musical. Just slightly. I feel like I cheated somewhat, we weren't to add effects but I wound up layering the same wave file over and over and offsetting them slightly to see what would happen. I was thinking of the percussion in Strawberry Fields by the Beatles when I did that actually.

I felt limited though by time. I needed sleep and I'd only been given a few hours and no transport to record sounds and quite frankly I didn't like much of what I'd captured. One of my favourite sounds was a bathroom fan actually. I chucked that in, it's the low hum in the entire track. I didn't have a concept other than to sound um... cool. But I'd like to do a new one.

After I pieced it together I decided to carve out space in the spectrum for each sound using EQ. Basically just rolling off frequencies where each sound didn't have as much presence. I don't recall ever actually getting to do this before though I've been aware of the technique for years. It prevents a muddy mess of different sounds competing with each other. I have no idea if I did it right or rolled off frequencies enough. I started by applying a bypass filter to each sound to determine where it sounded most present in the spectrum. From there I took off the bypass and applied parametric EQ instead. When I feel a bit more relaxed time-wise I want to listen to the before and after with greater attention and also experiment. I think there is room to become more attuned to the differences between a carved and a muddy track.

The title doesn't really mean anything, Walk in the Park, and all the echos just add to a slightly anxious feeling I guess.

One last thing that bothered me about my recordings was wind. Wind ruins recordings. It also often causes clipping right when you thought the levels were low enough. That really ruins recordings.

On Friday our groups presented our group efforts.

I was a bit apprehensive about going up when I didn't really edit the final piece. Though only because I didn't want to take credit. It was pretty good I thought. I don't currently have a copy.

I still have the recorder so I might make use of it. It comes with a 1gb SD card and at highest quality that would capture about 30 mins of audio. I however have a 32gb SD card in my camera and 4 sets f rechargeable batteries. So I might go and explore this weekend. Although I have Maths and Art work do get done.

    Friday October 8, 2010

Week 2 - Circuit Bending

We started the week off with a guest tutor explaining a few components in electrical circuits and the theory of circuit-bending. It's basically pulling old electronics to bits and attempting to short circuit it in either an experimental or possibly (but not so likely) planned way to achieve interesting sounds. It's also the practise of building simple circuits.

We were given a diagram of a mic construction (from an Electret mic) and another diagram of a small amplifier. I personally might have liked a diagram of an amp that didn't use an integrated circuit, favouring transistors, although it became apparent that we weren't really meant to learn electronics in depth, just some basics to tinker. We were given a shopping list, which included a small breadboard and a prototype board. The breadboard is for building circuits without soldering. I bypassed that stage with the amp and built directly on to the prototype board. A classmate suggested jokingly that I draw a diagram of how the components are mounted physically on the prototype board and so I went ahead with that idea and posted it up on facebook. Possibly not the smartest idea as that earned me a rep as someone who actually understands this electronics thing. We were to make another circuit from a pile of schematics, a "computer voice" (Vocoder possibly though I'm not sure if it was) was picked out but we were free to try other circuits including square wave generators, wah effect and equalisers. Nothing was really grabbing me but I settled on the the possibility of making a couple of wave generators feeding into the vocoder. I never really got a chance to tally up a parts list though, and I offered to help one of my friends with their kit as they weren't enjoying the idea of electronics and looked rather despondent. This was in part to a number of people's first introduction to soldering being with the keyboard hack - a notoriously difficult part to solder wires to. But soldering isn't normally that difficult. Not even close.

I was quite happy to help my mate out and figured I could use her vocoder at the end of the week too. Oh, this circuit-bending was to culminate in a performance in front of the class.

But while trying to build the circuit I also had various classmates also want my attention as they struggled with the circuit construction.

I like my class. I'd happily go and party with any of them really,- a great bunch. But being called all over the place and also trying to build a circuit already, it started to get a bit painful.

I'm not entirely sure why, but the vocoder never did work. Less interruption might have helped to a degree but maybe it wouldn't have worked regardless.

Our class was divided up into groups of 3, the dividing was done by our tutor for the purpose of making us work with people we wouldn't normally work with which I thought was a great idea. Even I'm becoming a bit set in my ways, I have a mental list of people I like working with most even though there are people I still have yet to work with. Our class is pretty friendly over all but everyone does have their own groups of friends.

I had a working amplifier but that was about it. I also built a siren but that had stopped working. I'm not sure why, it was a very simple circuit, transistor-based. The only thing I can think of is I fried the transistors with heat while re-soldering a wire. Except that doesn't really make sense, the transistors are far enough away from the wire for heat to not effectively transfer.

Friday was performance day, a few people didn't turn up which is disappointing really. I find resistance to doing things out of the comfort-zone - especially when they aren't that much of a big deal - a tad silly. Learning how to deal with performance (and presentations) are brilliant skills to have. Maybe some class mates don't realise just how advantageous they are. I'm pretty sure some (based on a conversation I had today) don't get that they are learning stuff even when not sitting in a class being talked to. We've all got better at presentations. We've all got better at self-directed research. We've all got better at time management. These things don't get taught in a class (effectively). You learn by doing.

Anyway I bought a small pile of electronics with me, but only the amp had been built this week. All the best electronics though is in boxes at my mother's house some 50km away. I only had a pile of largely solid state devices. Our group were the last to perform and equipment didn't quite work the way planned but we got through it. I have no idea what we sounded like in comparison, I spend the first half of the performance trying to get equipment to make some sort of sound and finally unplugged it all and used my cheap amp and produced feedback. Even that didn't work too well, the feedback was a bit difficult to get.

I did like the idea of performing though, it was fun. I'd just like to have had a bit more control over the sounds so I could respond to my "band members" more. Also not be struggling with equipment so I could have engaged with the audience more. Oh well.

    Saturday October 16, 2010

Week 3 - Planning

On Tuesday we had a guest take us for an improvisation workshop. We were to bring in something to play like an instrument. Not necessarily an actual instrument, that might be a bit too tuneful the for the purpose really. I clean forgot but claimed a piece of vacuum cleaner pipe that has been floating around the studio all year for some reason.

Before the main event, we were given an outline of our performance in under 2 weeks and shown some videos of a few performers, most disturbing being a guy who performs with broken glass.

We were taken into the Chroma Key room and our first exercise was to sing a tone "aaaahhh" at a pitch that was comfortable. We did so with the lights off to aid everyone with discomfort about the whole thing, which was... everyone. I half expected everyone to breath in then do nothing. This is what would have happened if it was a room full of me. Fortunately that didn't happen here. Around 40 people singing "aaaah" like a choir, it was interesting. We did it twice, the second time, I started laughing (quietly) for a considerable amount of the time. I had to wait to compose myself or I'd have wound up making anyone in ear shot laugh too. It was a weird experience.

More relaxed now, we then did the same with the lights on and a conductor controlling pitch and volume as well as tone by way of facial expressions - mouth shape. A few class members tried being the conductor and general consensus was that although one might think conducting is a great power trip, it's actually a lot easier to be told what to do.

The next exercise was keeping a beat with the "1, 2" game. One person claps on the 1 beat, another claps on the 2 beat (and sets the tempo by doing so). The class was in a circle and on each beat one more person would join in. But they were to only clap on one of the beats, not both. Later we were to try to swap beats, but with the rule that it was to be done with no rest beat - for example (subscript representing beat not clapped by person X): "1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2..." and not "1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2"

This was actually quite difficult. And even keeping the beat was a bit painful. I think. I'm not sure really. It was mildly distracting with everyone else clapping too, although we were all supposed to be in time.

Last of all, we grabbed our "instrument" and played together. It was just tuneless sounds yet interesting. There was a bit more to it but every minute I spend here is a minute not writing (or attempting to write) my maths and art essay.

Overall it was a fun day.

Wednesday we were to start planning our performance. Most people had grouped up, but I hadn't yet. I considered working on my own briefly but then decided to approach a couple of classmates who I felt would be a good match for this project (or indeed any). One of which I'd worked with in Cinematic Flâneur, the last Studio Project.

We considered a few ideas, the first one that looked like it would gain some traction was mounting sensors of some sort at intersections around the city, beaming them back to some device that would interpret the signals as notes. Exactly what and how they were sensing had not been decided yet. We couldn't think of an easy or cheap way of beaming signals back from multiple locations though so we considered tapping into existing traffic cams on the web.

We had a guest later in the day who talked about her work, both art and commercial. She had worked in a few things I had recognised, such being sound engineer for TrueSchool Hip Hop show. She showed an interesting piece of film from the 30s that she had been commissioned to make a sound track for, both the sound and the film itself were mesmerising. She had also worked on installations that would have been interesting to see but I had not been aware of. This project, with all of it's guests have really brought home the fact that one really has to try to go out and check out things going on in the city more. Not easy to do though when you aren't used to it. Even knowing about stuff is difficult. I was however a bit distracted and annoyed by classmates behind me making noise, it was disrespectful to the guest and anyone who actually wanted to hear what was going on. When asked if we had any questions, I was sure I would have but all I could concentrate on was the background noise. When it was over, one of my team mates said the same thing to me - which is nice, having people on the same page.

Something good came of it though...

Thursday we had another guest who produced electronica as a hobby and he gave us a brief rundown of the history of electronica starting with Delia Derbyshire's Doctor Who theme, and moving on to

Jean Michel Jarre, the haunting Equinoxe 4 and King Tubby's dub (I don't think I've found the right tune) which took me by surprise as I knew the tune but thought it was something from the 90s as that's probably about when I got exposed to it a lot. The 80s mentioned O Superman and the 90s when electronica really started to explode with wider availability of computer hardware, starting of course with the Amiga and Atari ST that had inferior sound chips but sported a midi interface. I've been all rock n roll the last couple of years but dance music and electronica in general has played a significant part in my life so this was a rather enjoyable talk.

Our group talked and as we slowly concluded that the traffic light sensor idea would be problematic another idea that we'd had started to surface. Inspired by the noise of classmates, we started to formulate a plan of composing "music" where annoying noise was the instrument. It developed into a performance where one team member (designated me) goes up and pretends to attempt to play a quiet piece, has a bit of trouble at first. Meanwhile in the audience, actors are rude and make noises such as foot tapping, pen clicking, cellphone messages, packet of chips crinkling etc. This creates and builds up an uncomfortable tension until near the end it appears I'm conducting it and I close it down.

We started by listing all the sounds we could think of that are annoying and we recorded a bunch of them. That night I installed a trial of Ableton and attempted to sequence it. Downloading the trial took a while so it was bedtime by the time it was installed and I'd installed a driver from my oxygen midi keyboard that I own.

Friday we had to do a mini performance in the afternoon for the class, so in the morning our group attempted to sequence the sounds. It didn't work out too well, and we wound up ad-libbing quite a bit. I asked for quiet and then (sort of deliberately, although sort of not) had trouble setting up, and all the while my teammates started shuffling. We had called in a couple of other class members to join in on the act. There was much room for improvement on the performance, and while I was going to bring the conducting in much later in the final performance anyway, I'm now thinking I'll bring it in later still. Really build up tension. It's actually a bit difficult to do, making myself look like a right twit for 5 minutes who can't command any respect, but also quite a good opportunity for growth. It's possibly difficult to be such a painful noise-maker too (though it comes naturally for some). Over all I'm told it was successful with a couple of classmates not realising until the end which was the goal, and a couple picking  up early because I gave it away. Once again it is hard not to because the whole time that you are not giving hints about the true nature of the performance, you look like a bit of an idiot. But I'm sure I can pull it off on the real performance night. The whole class is in on the act now too.

I have a few audio clips that I have to put up on this blog, but we've been given a reprieve due to this essay due in in 2 days, so I'll be adding content on Tuesday I guess.

    Tuesday October 26, 2010

Week 4 - Performance

Monday was the hand-in day of the essay and also the last maths lecture which would have been a giant waste of precious time.

Tuesday we planned our concept a bit further and also went on a small mission putting up event posters around campus and some of the city. It was the details that needed to be worked out. Some ideas were put out there to perhaps use a female as the performer having the technical difficulties and see how different the reaction might be. Putting my desire to extend myself a bit by performing, we considered this. We considered it a few times during the week but nothing really came of it so I sort of continued my role by default. We've have a couple of people try to enter our group and none of us were really happy about the idea. We know that we work well together and didn't really think anyone else could add to it, at best they'd be taking a free ride, at worst, they'd likely derail us. Fortunately all attempts were resisted and our tutor backed us up.

Wednesday was more of the same, we decided to compose a 4-bar track of annoying sounds in a rhythmic  fashion, foot taps, pen clicks and zips. The idea was to possibly make the noise random and only ordered in the last 10 seconds or so so the audience could click. We did this in audacity, a free wave editor / multitracker program preinstalled on our macs. It's a little painful to use but I have yet to find a wave editor that isn't, and I've used a few. Then again it's quite possible I've never used any of them properly.

What I really enjoyed about the time that we were doing this was that we were sort of through trial and error essentially learning how to record multitracked music in the same way a recording studio does, and without doing it in some class. Why did this please me so much? I guess because I feel that my group was composed of highly capable and logical yet conceptual people. There was just something really nice about seeing people that you work with just work out what works and building on it. Put simply, there are lots of people who can't do that. It's hard to explain more fully without either sounding patronizing or cynical. So I'll just say my group is great. Well, was - this is written retrospectively.

Thursday morning there was a dress rehearsal. At the last minute before leaving home I'd decided to bring in a beanie, it just seemed appropriate to my character, slightly shy, aloof and quiet, hiding his face a bit. Some of the performances had me a bit worried as they just didn't look like... performances. Lets just say that if you were given a random object with which to make sound, you could either hit it aimlessly as part of some involuntary nervous spasm or you could play it with some deliberateness - not necessarily with constant beat or rhythm, but... with some purpose of making sound. But it was a rehearsal so I guessed the performances were being saved for the real thing.

I spent the afternoon putting up more posters, sticking them in all the AUT lifts around campus.

The next morning some were gone. This really annoyed me. Who was the pompous git that decided an AUT event poster was not appropriate for their AUT department's lift?

Friday was a bit stressful, I had to help an outside friend out with some personal issues at the same time as preparing my performance. I had loads of gear with me and our group got some time in an empty  room 5 floors above where we practiced various details of the performance. We concluded that the performance should be one of a guy who twiddles knobs and acts like there is sound but you can't actually hear anything. I bobbed my head in time to nothing and turned knobs and hit keys.

My group watched me and critiqued various parts and we all worked out what different gestures might suggest to a viewer. Such as the way one taps a key on the keyboard. One way can be taken as playing it, another can be taken as testing it.

We also finally worked out a suitable ending to the performance. The original idea was that near the end I started composing it but it always sat slightly uncomfortably with is. It was hard to get the timing of when should start - it was very timing dependent as to whether it would be successful or not. But it was clumsy no matter what. But then we realised that I should just do my performance all the way through then stand up and announce to the audience to applaud the noisy people for their performance. This was perfect, for a few reasons, most of all I wouldn't walk away leaving the audience confused as to just what the hell had taken place. Well they might still be confused but at least it made me look a bit less stupid.

As the day went on and I had to duck out a couple of times, we had to set up at around 4pm. I was also in charge of sound recording, so I collected some Zoom recorders and tripods and set them up, one on each side of the room. I also had a portable handy and loads of batteries. The last hour was a bit stressful with people milling around not sure what they were doing, tight space and limited time. I got the zoom recorders running in time and took place at the back of the audience and quietly considered that I had switched my mac off instead of putting it to sleep. I did that earlier in the day because the battery on my mac is crap. But now I wouldn't have instant on which would mess up my performance a little bit. It wasn't critical as I was faking it anyway, but I was using a composition I'd set up in Ableton Live for timekeeping and cues on twiddling knobs. When our performance was up I flipped open my mac and started it up and just faked it. The next day I considered that a video camera might have been on me which was broadcasting to a TV facing the audience so they'd have seen that my mac was actually starting up while I was performing. The audience noise wasn't loud enough and the performance seemed a bit short to me, though I had no idea due to not having the computer running for most of it. We had decided a cell phone ringing would be the cue for me to wrap it up, it seemed to come quite quickly.

I then smiled and thanked my team members and the "rude BCT orchestra" and walked off. My team mates were a little disappointed too as the rehearsal looked rather promising. But it was okay.

I recorded some of the later performances with the handheld recorder as they were either outside or in other locations. I was a bit disappointed with the sound from one of the recorders, I'd adjusted the levels but not put on the mic windshield as it was indoors. But it turned out that the one closest to the adjacent door was still picking up the odd bit of wind and clipping. I really hate digital clipping. It's awful. Even as a deliberate art piece, it just sounds like a mistake. It's like setting a piece of print work in courier. You just avoid it (courier is the font rips usually default to if they can't read in the right font, I guess so that you are less likely to miss it).

I have one more post to make on this Studio project, it will include a few things that I had left off. Mainly sound and performances that we were expected to upload. I have so much data on this computer and I have to sift through it. ugh. Also I might try to reflect on the project and my team(s).

    Friday October 29, 2010

Aural Terrains Addendum

So were a few things that I was supposed to post through out the 4 and a bit weeks, but for various reasons never quite made it. Posting audio was a bit difficult although I did set up an account with some site that hosts audio. I'm now going to switch to Soundcloud though.

Rather than trawl through the previous posts inserting them I thought I'd make this new post, very heavy on multimedia.

In the first week, we were to record sounds and post them up on a sound-mapping website called Aporee.org. However I can't get the stupid thing to upload, so here is the sound anyway.

Remuera by -mung-

(update: Oh look, it works now!)

The next thing we did was the composition. There was an individual one and a group one. Here, reposted, is the individual:

1 Week One Individual Compositionƒ by -mung-

And here is the group composition, though just about all credit goes to 2 of the group members who got stuck into it:

2 Week One Group Compositionƒ by -mung-

The following week we learned circuit bending, here are a couple of circuit diagrams of things we built (or could have built):

Champ circuit diagram

Computer Voice circuit diagram

Here is one of the results, the "Champ" amp:

Champ Amp

With this and various other bits and pieces, we were put into groups to do our first performance in front of the class. Here is the video of my groups:

The following week we tried sound drawings. These were scribbles we made using our non- drawing hand, with out eyes closed, while listening to sounds or music. I think perhaps we were supposed to listen to sound, but I listened to a Janes Addiction song (viewer descretion advised for those born in the 1800s or the bible belt)

Here is a picture of one of the drawings:

Sound Drawing

I'd post the rest but my scanner has been made obsolete by way of drivers, so this pic is taken from the built in iSight webcam.

We were then to let someone else in the class play it back with their "instrument". One of my teammates played mine with a feather duster. This is the result:

Lidy Plays Chris's Comp by -mung-

I also played her composition:

Chris Plays Lidy's comp by -mung-

I don't have a copy of her sound drawing. It was quite different though, water colour paint slooges.

In the fourth week while coming up with our annoying noise performance we mucked around with a composition:

6 Week 3 Rude Awakening Test Compositionƒ by -mung-

Last of all, we did the actual performance. It was a bit of a fizzer compared to our rehearsal but I still like the idea which was conceptually strong and my group who were bright and fun to work with.

Today we had to submit all of our work on CD and DVD along with a written reflective statement. The cutting of the footage took longer than I thought it would (you'd think I'd have learnt) and I wound up staying up all night. I wrote my reflective statement and realised after I'd handed it in that it had gramatical errors. Not bad English, more of the would double ups and equivalents kind.

I did however make my group proud with the DVD cover (unless they were being polite). Our piece being about noise features a layer of gaussian noise over the top of the composite. The DVD Label, we ran into problems getting printed as I didn't know what specs they wanted and it as an after thought, so I supplied a standard pdf. Turns out they wanted a jpeg... wtf. Could have been converted then and there but there were lines out the door because it's that time of the year. I wonder if Print Sprint or whatever they are called get lines. They are the ones that charge $2-5 to read the data from your USB stick - you know where they can stick the USB stick...

This is the cover and disc label (though the disc submitted was just written on with a marker):

The Rude Awakening DVD cover

DVD label

And the CD Jacket front cover, which we were supposed to incorporate the sound drawing in:

Aural Terrans CD front cover

We also had to hand in our Visual Diary that was to contain "significant development" of this project. Mine didn't really contain much. This is an audio project and short of writing lots of stuff, which I've done in my blog, I really had no need for it on this project. I handed it in regardless.

I notice one small mistake, on the DVD I've called it project 5, but it's really project 6. Oh well.

Now it's on to planning final presentations of this semesters studio work!