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.
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].
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.