Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category


Monday, July 20th, 2009

Underwater sounds, and sounds beyond human hearing range present a fascinating area of research and raise particular musical questions about the nature of our material. I have been working with these ideas over the past months, and at the studio at Steim I’m pulling together sounds and images collected on a recent residency in Florida with Alvin Lucier and David Dunn, recordings of space and underwater sounds including dolphin. A recent visit to the Bio-Acoustics Lab at UPC in Barcelona brought my attention to the applied nature of sound research in science, and the complementary reliance on vision to see sounds and patterns that might otherwise be missed in enormously complex data. So I’m looking further at the relation between sound and image in environmental conditions and trying to gather material for live performances that include acoustic instruments as part of the sound environments.

Sons de Mar – research in underwater bioacoustics

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Cetaceans (whales, dolphins) are considered bio-indicators of changing environmental balances at sea because of their highly evolved acoustic perception and communication in their environment. The sounds in the ocean have dramatically transformed over the last 100 years due to anthropogenic noise made by our technologies – listen to this transformation at Sons de Mar. The noise pollution is so great that it interferes with Cetacean sonar and causes deafness which in turn increases the possibilities of collision with vessels at sea. The research group LAB Laboratori d’Aplicacions Bioacustiques, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, led by Michel Andre, has done several projects of passive acoustics – developing a way to detect whales by listening to the sound fields already present rather than adding more sound to the noise. There is also a clear acoustic map visualization with sound of the sea on the coasts of Catalunya and Spain.

Satellite Sounding – data and language

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

The Composer uses Sound to Articulate Relationship with Environment.

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Composers engaging with the mental, physical, collaborative and environmental processes of music making, embody concerns that are recurring in music and sound art today. The use of technologies to generate, simulate and sonify sounds in the environment is also pointing beyond issues of performance practice and instrument design. The environment? Humans are part of complex interconnected ecosystems in constant flux. The composer? Organising sound and making audible the inaudible, can help articulate these relationships through music rather than human language. (more…)

Landscape with Alvin Lucier

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Landscape with Alvin Lucier  “With and without purpose” : excerpts from the interview by Robert Ashley in his Music with Roots in the Aether (first text edition 2000 MusikTexte Cologne, but made for television 1975?)

I’ve selected these comments on the following topics from the interview:

  • technology and feeling – emotions in music
  • functionality and musical choice
  • distilling ideas, like pure alcohol
  • two-dimensional notation, three-dimensional sound in space
  • technology as a landscape
  • physicality of fly-fishing and sound
  • in and out of balance, with and without purpose (more…)

Gregory Bateson on Cetacean Communication

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Gregory Bateson Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972 Ballantine Books, New York)

Notes on “Problems in Cetacean and other Mammalian Communication” (first published 1966, written while working for John Lilly and his dolphin centre in the Virgin Islands. pp 364 – 378)

In the problem of understanding Cetacean communication, mammals such as Dolphins and their sound production, is the difficulty of us as humans approaching communication that may have completely different goals and importance. Bateson describes the predominance of communication of relationship (love, hate, dependency etc) in non-human / non-linguisitc mammals, where there is no need for a language of data (humans have hands and manipulate objects and language is built out of this ability and necessity). The communication of relationship in humans is less explicit in language but can be found in gesture – proto-linguisitc communication – common to all mammals. (more…)

A Jackdaw In-Between (sound)

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

MP3 file: jackdaw in-between

A jackdaw (bird) has flown onto my roof and is making a series of complex sounds that appear to articulate something I can only try to understand. Its inflections of tone and timbre that irresistibly seem like language have drawn my attention and I have begun recording the sound. In doing so the jackdaw’s voice has made me shift my focus and listen to the environmental sounds outside my room in Amsterdam. My internal space – my concentration on the thoughts – is located in my physical room that is remarkably quiet, the only sound being my computer keyboard whilst I type this. The voice of the Jackdaw comes from just outside my space, I can’t see it, only hear as it sits and sounds the in-between space, so close as to be almost in the room. The sounds of Amsterdam then become clearer and present, although distant. The sound of the jackdaw is articulating an in-between, the intermedial, a moving back and forth between the internal, inside, to outside.


Thursday, October 30th, 2008