Trip Three: Day Two

Back to the Studio

Cato had been able to squeeze me into the studio booking system for Studio Nordheim so I got back in there and began (once again) to work on the initial piece.

It is amazing how each time the perspective afforded by distance and time away from the piece is able to inspire new ideas and provide new clarity on the piece. I recognised almost instantly, just as I had on my previous trip, that the work was still too busy. There was too much variation, change and activity which was not fully developed and little time to breathe and take stock.

One option would have been to extend the piece further, to push everything back and fully explore each section in more detail. But I also recognised that there was a lack of cohesion in between some of the different sections of the work, which might be exacerbated by further lengthening the piece. And I wanted the work to hold together.

So, I decided to remove items (especially in the second part of the work which uses the pitched material extracted from the air conditioning noise) and to cut back slightly on the levels of processed sound. To present enough of these sonic textures and to ensure that I was shaping the materials at all times, not simply allowing the materials to simply exist and do their own thing.

These changes seemed to make some real difference to the work, but I know that the real effect will only really become apparent when I return to the Studio on Monday and am able to hear them with fresh ears.

Detailed Compostional Notes / Reflections

  • Concentrate periods of activity and those of inactivity.
  • Focus upon clarifying sections of the work.
  • Draw similarities between the first and last sections of the piece.
  • Subtract some gestural elements to bring into focus high and low energy sections.
  • The piece should be primarily about texture (though the middle section is more gestural). So make sure that the gestural elements are complementing and not challenging the textures.
  • Try inserting some of the ‘Nordheim computer noise’ in the opening section of the work (this might help to tie this first section in with the last, where this sound is also used). As well as helping to smooth the transition between noisy and rotating pitched sounds in the second part. (It will also provide HF content to this section which is entirely unpopulated due to band pass filtering).
  • Either extend sections of the work, to allow them to develop fully. Or limit the material transformations.

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).