CompositionProjectSoundtrack

Precious – Flora (2014)

Sound Installation –

Commissioned by Jasie McArdle and Ellen Bianchini to develop a soundtrack that serves to enrich the visual and tactile aspects of the work and to evoke associations with nature and the environment.

http://www.lcbdepot.co.uk/event/precious-flora



Brief:

To design a soundscape for the installation Precious hosted at the LCB depot Leicester, to use ‘realistic’ sound recordings of nature and the environment in order to create a soundscape which complements the sculptural installation.

No processed material, only a montage of ‘real’ sounds, should be used.


Realisation of Soudscapes:

Winter

The winter soundscape is composed from an array of sounds captured in Norway and sounds received from the British Library Sound Archive.[1]

The soundscape is deliberately sparse and static, to give the impression of open and empty spaces devoid of foliage / leafy materials. The soundscape is harsh and cold reflecting the conditions of the environment.

List of sounds:

  • Mountain ambience, various (recorded Høvringen January 2014).
  • Red Fox Scream (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Footsteps crunching in snow (recorded Høvringen January 2014).
  • Barn Owl Scream (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Tawny Owl Howl (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Finches tweeting and pecking in tree (recorded Høvringen January 2014).
  • Wind whistling past telegraph poles (recorded Høvringen January 2014).

Summer

The summer soundscape is composed from sounds captured in Kent and Leicester, with additional materials provided by the British Library Sound Archive.

The soundscape is more active than winter and full of life, from insects to birds to dogs and humans. The climate is also more dynamic with a shift in weather and situation from fine to stormy. This further reflects the general transition of Spring -> Summer -> Autumn (though it wouldn’t really be a British summer without rain).

List of sounds:

  • Ambience and birdsong (recorded in Clarendon Park, April 2014).
  • Insects and bees (recorded in Leicester, Spring 2012).
  • Park ambience (recorded Victoria Park, Leicester in April 2014).
  • Cuckoo call (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Dog Barking (recorded at Formby Beach, nr. Liverpool December 2012)
  • Wood Pigeon (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Swift (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Swallow (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Dry Leaves blowing across tarmac (recorded near Formby in Liverpool December 2012).
  • Rain and Thunder (recorded in Leicester, Summer 2011).
  • Rain and foliage (recorded in Kent, Summer 2010).
  • Stream (recorded in north Oslo, February 2014).
  • House Sparrow (from the British Library Sound Archive).
  • Leaves Blowing through the trees (recorded in Kent, Summer 2010).
  • Crunching through leaves (recorded in Kent Spring 2014).

Installation and Experience

It was intended that the loudspeakers and technology be as un-intrusive as possible to the aesthetic of the installation and be as robust and simple to use as possible so as to reduce the chances of technological failure.

The equipment utilised were four Genelec 8030 loudspeakers (two stereo pairs – Winter / Summer) and two mp3 player devices for looping audio playback.

Loudspeakers were positioned at the four corners of the room pointing inwards. The two ‘Winter loudspeakers’ being sat flat on the floor, while the two ‘Summer loudspeakers’ were reclined backwards at a 45º angle, pointing up towards the visitors. This provided a more general wash of sound for the winter soundscape and a more stereophonic and present experience for the summer soundscape.

The soundscapes themselves differed in duration (Winter = 7min 41sec, Summer = 13min 12sec) which meant that the two soundscapes would constantly move in and out of phase with one another, creating an evolving and constant diversity of sound combinations within the space (and this further reduced the complexity of the installation as the two could be started independently with no absolute or essential start point).

The sound level (amplitude) was set low within the space, so that individuals moving within the space would be able to clearly hear each of the soundscapes independently, creating their own relative ‘mix’ of the two soundscapes by moving back and forth within the space.

Special Thanks British Library Sound Archive (http://www.bl.uk/soundarchive), NOTAM (Norwegian Centre for Technology in Music and the Arts), Jøran Rudi, Cheryl Hill and Simon Smith; who all helped with the collection of sounds used in the project.


[1] http://www.bl.uk/soundarchive

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