Trip Three: Discussion with Anders Tveit

One of the people who inspired me to come to NOTAM in the first place was Anders T whom I met in Paris in January 2013 when we both presented works at the GRM’s Akousma festival.

Unfortunately he’s proved to be a little elusive over the times that I have been here in Oslo, but I was finally able to meet up with him for a conversation about the project, and he also showed me where I could find good beer (though frighteningly expensive).

I can’t quote any wise statements directly from our discussion but I can present my thoughts on the project after our discussion, which I jotted down while Anders was off buying drinks at the bar.

Reflections

Composition One takes the sounds of the studio and highlights the divergent compositional approaches that this theme (of “Quiet”) encourages.

  • Is a more naturalistic approach adopted? (Presenting quiet sounds quietly, in a more natural state).
  • Or should a more interventionist approach be used? (Whereby quiet sounds are taken and amplified into the foreground).

The two subsequent works in the project might each explore one of these trajectories. EITHER ambient / soundscape OR highly gestural and developed.

Natural or Processed.

  • Quiet sounds in its natural state.
  • Or quiet sounds highlighted to draw attention to their beauty.

Now, time for some hard thinking [sic].

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Trip Three : A Dramatic Arrival

I arrived in Oslo and had to collect the PNEK apartment keys from a locker in the railway station.

It all felt very much like some kind of spy thriller. Enter the code on an electronic keypad and the door swings open to reveal a solitary key to the apartment (PNEK could also very easily be some acronym for a cold war spy agency).

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And so, I need a secret mission!

This trip I will be investigating the small, tiny, “quiet” sounds of the city. I’ve heard a few on my previous trips so I will retrace my steps and collect those, but also head further afield, out to parts of Oslo that I haven’t yet been to.

And certainly to a few places that have been recommended to me by Anders (and reiterated by a few others).

  • Frognerseteren
  • Opera House
  • Vigelands mausoleum
  • And a circular room on the subway system in Nationaltheatret station

Trip Two: Pining for the Fjords.

Back to Oslo on the second part of my residency / project. This time I’ll be heading up near to Lillehammer so that I can record environmental sounds.

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The forecast looks fairly chilly but not exceptionally so, and there does now seem to be light snow predicted (which is what I’m after).

I’m certain that the temperature is going to be a bit of a shock to the system when I first arrive but hopefully it won’t interrupt the processes of recording.

This leg is certainly going to be more of an adventure than last time (which consisted mainly of barricading myself into the studio for late night sessions), and some details about the adventure I’m still not clear about.

But when I know, you’ll know.

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 Two

Preamble

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.

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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.

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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.

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Bring on the next few days of recording!

Trip One: Part One – “Quiet” in NOTAM

I’m currently updating my blog from the aeroplane, at least 10,000 ft above the North Sea (thank you Norwegian Air). Off on my first visit to NOTAM.

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The goal of this trip is acclimatisation and investigation of the centre itself. I will record sounds from around NOTAM (the sounds of the building the people, the technology, the rehearsing musicians), and use these as materials for development of a short work (c. 8 minutes).

I’m looking forward to meeting all of the composers and musicians who are based there (those that haven’t already disappeared for the winter break). And hearing some excellent music.

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Currently however, I’m enjoying some fabulous cloud formations passing below me. I might just have to find a way to use these as inspiration for textural materials and layering. Great depth and variation.