Communauté électroacoustique canadienne
Canadian Electroacoustic Community
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Works » By Title » F » Fantasie for Horns I & II (14:00 / 1978)

Hildegard Westerkamp

for horn and tape

The sound sources for “Fantasie for Horns” are taken from the acoustic environment. They are: Canadian trainhorns, foghorns from both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Canada, factory and boathorns from Vancouver and surroundings — horns that Canadians hear in daily life. Additional sound sources are an alphorn and a creek. Most of the material is taken from the World Soundscape Project's environmental tape collection at Simon Fraser University, some of it I recorded myself. When I first listened to various horns in the collection, I was fascinated by the way their sounds were shaped and modulated by the surrounding landscape. Some horns would echo only once, others many times, their sound slowly fading into the distance. One foghorn had an echo that was an octave lower than the actual sound, another was an octave higher. A trainhorn's echo was half a tone lower as the train approached, but the same pitch as it passed. Each horn acquires its unique sound from the landscape it inhabits. This strong interaction between these sounds and their environment inspired me to work with the horn material. Additionally I have always been interested in these types of horns — they rise above any ambiance, even that of large cities. They are soundmarks that give a place its character and give us, often subliminally, “a sense of place”. For this piece I took two different approaches toward the sound material. One was to leave the horn sounds as they occured in space and time, and mix them with others, the result being various types of “hornscapes” with interesting pitch relationships as we may hear them throughout an entire day. The other approach was to isolate the horn sound and its echo from its environment and temporal rhythm, and to convert it into a new sound by means of tape manipulations, such as delayed feedback, variable speed and filtering. In this way I created continuous sounds that, in the piece, may linger underneath, weave in and out, or overpower the “hornscapes”. HW

  • Studio: Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia)
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