Sunday, June 19, 2011

Acoustic Debris #1

As W. A. Mathieu so eloquently put it, we live at the bottom of an ocean of sound and the ambient acoustic world through which we drift and swim is a rich part of my waking life.  I love found-sound work, from the industrial spookiness of David Lynch to the enlightened simplicity of John Cage.  Since I got my DAW, I have fantasized about different found-sound work I might do, but believed I was limited by the fact that, at this stage, I have no decent quality recording equipment and no budget to purchase good quality samples.

Once again, the Internet comes to the rescue:  while trying to find some choir samples that I could use as a base for a good synth-choir voice, I discovered a remarkable open-copyright repository of sound samples called The Freesound Project.  They cover pretty much any sound type one might imagine, from bird and insect calls to industrial noise to biophysical sounds to, happily, choir.  Once I began perusing the archive, I was quickly sucked into their  universe of noise and found myself downloading samples with the thought to play around with building a found-sound work.  The below piece is the result; all of the sounds come from The Freesound Project.


Not having done anything like this before, this is, naturally, as much a study as a work of expression.  Some sounds seemed to want to go together and, when played concurrently, created new sounds, evoking new thoughts and images; some are related and some are very much unrelated.  It's exciting to be able to combine sounds that could not exist simultaneously in the real world and yet nonetheless feel acoustically meaningful when combined.  Sequence was interesting, too, as I discovered what sounds seemed to make sense to follow others, sometimes inexplicably.

There is no story here, despite the concreteness of the samples.  I tried to build something of an emotional arc, following a sense of tension, but this is at bottom nothing more than a mental wandering, or even skipping about, in soundspace.