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August 1999

Exploring Sound Through…

Welcome to a bizzarre little world of moods, images, grasping hands and thoughts… and ironically silently, about sound.
The project is called "exploring sound through…" because this assignment deals with how sound is related from one medium to another, keeping mind as well to the interpreting body. I did an electracoustics course with Kevin Austin last year and we did this kind of assignment in class. We would listen to sound pieces and write about them or write to them, draw them or scribble their gestures, transfer them into spectrograms or amplitude timelines, and basically try to see what happens when one tries to hold onto something intangible, invisible, and transient… sound.
It is difficult, it requires a certain plasticity, and definitely a comfortable subjectivity.

I had difficuly starting the project because I was looking for a kind of objective stance. While some of the transformations are quite objective (namely the spectrogram analysis), writing, drawing, image similarities… these all seemed to stem from me, with the piece as my guide… rather than the other way around. This was bothersome at first, but then I got used to it. For I would listen and draw to a piece… but should I then touch it up, make it complete, give it its own life? Or leave it a mere facsimile to the sound piece it happened alongside? (which won't be heard anyway on this site). I decided to try my best… to work to the piece, but give it its own voice too. And, accept that my body's bias of the moment, is also in there… just as the composer's biases are in his or her pieces.

The analyses I did were: writing to sound (stream of consciousness), writing about the sound, drawing or scribbling to the sound, visual similarities of one or more aspect of the sound, piece etc. (these appear as photographs that I have taken which remind me of the sound, piece etc.), and spectrogram representations with written analyses. I chose the spectrogram representations over the amplitude timeline because it had all that and more, was pretty, and shapely suggestive. Some pieces have only one analysis for them, some have up to three. Naturally there were factors that swayed my approaches. For example, all the long pieces I drew too… because the time allowed me to soak in the sound and layer and shape the image. I tried to choose relevent processes for the given pieces. I also must say that I liked some pieces more than others, and that may be reflected as well.

All and all, it was an interesting project for me. I've been interested in synesthesia for a while, and a couple of years ago tried to coin a word in a long essay: "metaphormalism": all things are the same occuring in different forms. That all things are metaphorical. And ultimately it is through metaphor we express. But this metaphor is so linked to our own lives that one can't objectively relate a sound piece, speak about the same things in a painting, or find a universal synesthesic model… but we can present our own metaphorical closeness to whatever it is we like to think is the cohesive. And move each other. Enjoy,

Sophia Male

Links to individual tracks:

disc one:

disc two:

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