Trip One: End (Day 5) – ‘Standing in a Corridor’ & Composition Second Draft.

Today was spent polishing the piece in the studio. And while no-one else was around, I got my ‘Alvin Lucier’ on.

‘I am Standing in a Corridor….’

All week I’ve been walking along the corridor in NOTAM and hearing the resonant reflections. I also had a lot of great recordings, but they were too recognisable to be used within the discourse of the piece that I’ve been working on.

So, I decided to combine these two things. It’s actually the first time that I’ve tried to do this, and I’m pretty happy how it turned out.

I tried re-recording many things. The humm and whirr of the studio computer, the clinking of cups in the dishwasher, (my own voice) and the photocopier/scanner that sits in that very hallway. Coincidentally it was the photocopier that was most suited to this location (I guess they must have known this when they put it there).

Second Draft of The Piece

So, equipped with my resonant corridor recordings I was able to get back into the studio and round off the piece. While working on the piece today I was able to recognise the key sound events within the piece and utilise them to their fullest extent. I recognised that the ‘creaking’ sounds were functioning as dividers / flags between sections and so increased their use in this role. And I drew in the resonant sounds at the end of the piece to provide some more pitched material in what was previously a very noise based section.

Other general tweaks were made to ensure that all gestures fed constructively into one another, or at least had compatible energy profiles. EQ, EQ, EQ gave clarity to the sonic materials and reverberation was added to give a sense of depth and space to certain sonic layers.

Where Next?

Tomorrow I fly back to the UK. I’ll be sad to leave but NOTAM is very quiet at the moment with everyone off for Christmas. I’ve really not seen anything else of Oslo other than the apartment, the studios and the 15 minute walk between them. Hopefully January will get me out and about a bit more.

I’m also looking forward to the distance and perspective that January will bring to bear on the piece. There is probably more tweaking to be done, but I’m pretty happy with how this piece turned out. A busy week, but a very productive one.

Have a good Christmas and New Year.


Trip One: End of Day Four – Composition First Draft

Today was consumed by processing of materials and development of the composition. So there are not so many active ‘goings on’ to report.


However, I did manage to sketch out the whole form of the first piece. With a clear (at least it is clear to me) beginning, middle and end (though I think it needs more work to fully polish and emphasise it).

I decided to end with the mill pond on the river ‘Akerselva’, directly outside the windows of NOTAM (photo above).

If you get a chance, let me know what you think about the piece.

There is still more work to be done. I have a few notes of areas to develop and will hopefully discover a few more ideas in my sleep, but if you have any comments I’d love to hear them.

Detailed Compositional Thoughts / Reflections

  • Find and insert more ‘guitar edit’ recordings.
  • Develop / delete ending.
  • Edit and isolate ‘swishing dishwasher powder’. Develop this more.
  • Develop squeaky door sounds: transposition and stretch.
  • Develop dishwasher plates and clinks more?
  • Play and record corridor resonance.
  • Move back second guitar edits so as to cover the keyboard crossfade.

Positive Aspects of Rendering – time for listening.

Okay, so waiting for stuff to render isn’t fun. But it does mean that you can do other things in the meantime.


While waiting for the noise reduction algorithm to remove the air conditioning from my keyboard recording, I took a peruse of the CD collection here at NOTAM.

I found a great record, which was a collaboration between South American and Scandinavian composers – North South Project (


One track especially caught my ear as being the closest to my own project theme: ‘The Hot Dogs’ by Hanna Hartman (track 12).

This is a fantastically compelling and minimal piece. It sounds a bit like ‘Concrete PH’ with people shuffling in the background and a fantastic bell at the end. (I know that this description isn’t great, and it certainly doesn’t do the piece justice. You just need to listen to it ….).

The delicate textures and of the clicking and the background ambience really draw you in to listening to the fine details. And then the tolling of the bell snaps you out of this – reminding you that you have been listening intently to quiet sounds – and emphasising how quiet it was before the bell itself (linking in, of course, with the idea that ‘noise’ and ‘quiet’ are interdependent binary states, where you cannot have one without the other).

Trip One: End of Day Three

Today I began the piece, with some very ‘Simon Atkinson-esque’ filtering via the GRM tools. Many of the Norwegian works that I have listened to have contained very discrete sustained pitches, so I wanted to reproduce these in my composition (caveat: I should point out that Jøran gave me a CD of works by the composer Arne Nordheim, so these are the ones that I have been listening to. But appropriate for one working in the ‘Nordheim Studio’ at NOTAM).


The main question that needs to be addressed is the extent of abstraction that should exist within this piece:

  1. If the processing renders the sounds abstract then why does it matter that they were recorded in NOTAM itself?
  2. If the sounds are left unprocessed then how can one work with them creatively, unprocessed they seem to simply form a document of the spaces and environments.

One possible solution is to begin abstract, slowly reducing the level of abstraction. To end up at raw field recordings. This will probably direct the overarching form of the piece, as I have an idea of where to end up.

Not being quite as restrained as Simon A, I have impetuously rushed in other more gestural sounds to accompany the slowly evolving filtered sounds. These work, to some extent, as triggers for the shifting filter processes (a gesture occurs and provides an inferred cause for the filter shift) but are perhaps too prevalent at the moment.

I should always remember the theme…..

The Illusion of Quiet


‘Under present conditions men are beginning to lose the capacity to discriminate between sound and noise – between the desirable and the irrelevant…

The problem of isolating undesirable sounds is technically so hard to solve that acoustics engineers now recommend the simpler expedient of providing artificial background noise in one’s own domain as an acoustic cushion or muffler.

Making more noise is the only economical way, apparently, of drowning out unwanted noise and of not being overheard. It seems that the illusion of quiet can only be maintained in noise.’

CHERMAYEFF, S.; ALEXANDER, C.; (1966) Community and Privacy, Penguin. pp. 96 – 98.

(taken from –

Trip One: End of Day Two


Today began a bit later than I had intended, It took longer to walk up from Grünerløkka to the studios than I was expecting, but it was a very pleasant route along the river (lots of exciting recording possibilities for future pieces). And I arrived just in time for the famous communal lunch.


Inspiration through Lunch

I met and chatted with Jøran Rudi (we plotted about a field recording trip in January / February up near his cabin) and Anders Vinjar (key member of EAU: Electric Audio Unit, who organise and run electroacoustic concerts here in Norway). Both talks were very positive and bode well for the future. I look forward to talking more with both of them.

The communal lunch meeting was really great, it was fantastic to see everyone sit down together, talk and then vanish back off into their individual studios at the end. I also knew from then on that I had to reference this within the piece that I’m composing about NOTAM itself (I had heard about the lunch in advance and thought that it might be an important NOTAM feature). But, I didn’t want to simply document the event. To record it might disrupt it and is probably a bit ethically unsound.

Recording Solutions

So I decided to record the remnants of the lunch. The signs that people had been there and that many people had partaken, the dishwasher.

I had heard it running the previous day and noted that it was fab to have one in the studio, the MTIRL at DMU would be much less likely to breed mouldy cups if we had a dishwasher in there, and it seemed to me to be a nice reference back to the lunch, without the hustle and bustle of the actual event.

The project is themed around the idea of “Quiet” after all….

Trip One: End of Day One

I reached NOTAM in the early afternoon and was given a tour by Cato Langnes (Studio Manager). I was able to quickly catch Gyrid (whom I met through the Compose With Sounds project) and to meet some of the other composers working in the studios.



Gyrid introduced me to the Sound Devices field recorder, and once I’d had a crash course I started making some recordings.

Many of these are just test experiments, as I work out how the field recorder and microphones are suited to my needs. But I was rather pleased with the sound of the cable cabinet. I knocked into one of the doors and then decided to play them percussively.


Bring on the next few days of recording!