….with Maria Marzaioli
….with Maria Marzaioli
Very happy me. I’m working on a composition for paper and strings. The first movement is called ‘Turner Piece’ using the sound of the paper score sheets, sonically referring to abstract landscape sounds and Impressionistic paintings by Turner.
Just now I finished the sketch for a next movement called ‘Metro’ – about the underground newspaper. This is what inspired me in the first place. One time I was sitting in a crowded carriage, no one uttered a single vowel or cough. All you could hear was the rhythm of the train and the rustling of the free newspaper. I was mesmerised.
While we where walking around in the hills on holiday, we could hear a faint water stream running for a long time. Yet, it sounded a bit odd for a stream, plus we couldn’t see any water anywhere?
After a while walking around the sound grew louder and we could spot hundreds of goats all with their own bells. Just my luck. Beautiful sonic texture.
So what’s this knitting business you’re going on about like forever? Are you a knitter?
I’m someone who often is so disappointed in re-listening to a field recording I took from a place which I thought sounded gorgeous. The recording would sound like a document from the past, much like a photograph. Not the alive and kicking thing I was witnessing, with lots of sound coincidences that make a moment.
I started to dissect the soundscape sounds into little separate pieces. As if Wind, Oystercatchers, Dry Grasses all walked into the recording studio to have their take recorded. If you throw these recordings in a sampling machine or sequencer they will make a nice cheesy house tune.
Hmmm – how to trigger them in their natural-ish timing so they start to sound like the actual thing. It would need very many random little trigger points. A swarm of them. That’s what the needles do.
Imagine listening to the dense ticking sound knitting needles make when many people are knitting at the same time. That’s how many times a sample from my recording can get triggered, that’s what I needed. Record one leaf of a tree, play it back as the rustling of an entire tree.
I had my soundscape in my pocket.
Below is a recording of the soundscape sounds we used in the Millennium Centre workshop of last Saturday. They are sounds you can hear on Strumble Head, close to where I live. Or my sonic translation of them.
You can hear the soundscape change from a subtle wind which rustles the grasses, to breezier weather with the sea in the distant. The sea closer. Closer to hear a flock of Arctic Terns on a rock in the middle of the sea. Walking along the coastal path, you pass a rock and the terns sound further away and other coastal birds come in earshot. The ever-turning Lighthouse is always present. Then it’s early April and the temperature changes between land and sea causes sea fog and the foghorn will sound. Slowly it turns night and the wind, the sea, the lighthouse, the dolphins and sirens all make for a good folk tale.
The workshop will start at 11:30am in the Sony Room of the Millennium Centre. Feel free to come and join in. It’s going to be quite a hoot. Literally.
The concert is at 3pm on the Glanfa stage,also in the Millennium Centre.
All events free of charge.
I need help of my friends with the knitted music project, as I’m not much of a knitter myself.
Fiona has been a star, we’ve been trying out several stitches and what different kind of timing they would generate.
“What’s the most awkward thing to knit, Fiona? The light house knitting need to have pauses in, just as the light shines. Every lighthouse has their own light code.”
“Vertical stripes in different colours, because you have to tidy up the wool in the back, as well, to avoid big loops.”
And we struck upon a great pattern idea that would match the light code beams of the light house visually, in the shape of the vertical stripes, which in turn correspond with the timing to trigger the sound samples of the light house. The whole concept becomes one. To be continued.
The Knitting Music workshop is going to be awesome. You’ll be sitting in a Strumble Head soundscape, which can change from stormy to foggy. From chirping daytime to the a nightime folk tales are made of. All by people triggering these textural field recordings using their knitting needles.
As Bernie Krause said, whilst listening to a recording of nature sounds: “The texture of the recording is as delicate and lovely as a piece of fine Irish lace – an expansive sonic fabric that sucks me deep into the time and space of the original moment, as only sound can do.”
Somebody will be knitting wind and the more regular you knit the gustier it gets. Someone else will be knitting the Lighthouse and has to keep the chirping cog wheels running by trying not to drop too many stitches.
Wind and Light house in place, flock of arctic terns, check, fog horn, grasses, check – just the sea. The sea. Hope I’ll have the sea done in time.
How my music evolves over time often relates to how my eyes wander over a landscape, architecture or an object. In my mind this little nothing piano snippet – which reminds me of another piece, but in this case that doesn’t matter – follows how my eyes would follow the rocky surface of a cliff.
A sketch out on paper to show me what it is I like, is what I get from it. It might translate into the next stage of a work. Or not.
Gwanwyn is a month-long national festival held across Wales in May each year celebrating creativity in older age. The festival began in 2006 and is supported by Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Government.
At 3pm the ‘Killing Time‘ concert will be performed on the Glanfa stage. A concert for piano, simulated guzheng and 5 knitters on prepared knitting needles. More info here http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/knitted-music-2/
‘Killing Time’ performance at MATA festival NYC – photo Daniel Lopera
Earlier in the morning, at 11:30, I’ll be giving a knitting music workshop in the Wales Millennium Center, where I’ll be talking about developing my composition with prepared knitting needles. Followed by a music session: there are spaces for 8-10 knitters of all ability to experience ‘knitting music’. Together we’ll be knitting the Strumble Head soundscape in Pembrokeshire. More info http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/knitted-music-strumble-head-soundscape/
All events are free to attend.
Pwll Deri in Pembrokeshire is a big influence on the composition – photo Philip Clarke
New Music South Africa magazine republished the Sound And Music article about my MATA commission ‘Killing Time’ with prepared knitting needles in their current issue, alongside other very interesting reads and updates about New Music in this part of the world. Thank you very much Chris van Rhyn for sending this down.
This is a sketch true to the background photo you see on this website, all sounds are by the ARP2500. Apart from a bird called William. I was interested in mixing the textures of the tweeting ARP sounds with actual chirping.
I made this music with a laboratory set in space in mind, for my sonic comic book DR.NAUT
On May 16th my piece ‘Killing Time’ will be performed on the Glanfa stage in the Millennium Centre. More info very soon.
This is a sketchbook, right? No sketchbook can be complete without cut outs of some sort. A scrap of newspaper, a photograph, a paper wrapping.
Field recordings like these are my main inspiration, clippings from the ongoing soundtrack I’m subscribed to, called Life – I find them fascinating and abstract and often also witty. About what we Would Like to hear and what life Actually sounds like.
My phone is full of these little recordings, and I don’t care about poor quality, coat rustling, volumes. It all adds to what the sketch will spark in my imagination.
I was looking for a certain recording and stumbled upon these two little gems – we’re in the NYC subway.
Easter holidays have been lovely – glorious sunshine, fabulous company. So much so I felt like writing a love song. I thought “no bells and whistles, be a purist Bard, for god sake stick to a genre”.
There was júst this little break I wanted to fit it…….
…..an entire Sunday later I found myself here, on this musical spot – let’s see if Love can agree on my deafening take on Love. It’s more of a sonic representation what happens neurologically, I suppose. Yet not entirely sure whether it’s going to fit in into the song as the break I was after.
Picture: CD Howe’s Neural Network was created using EEG recordings of the artist’s brain activity in a variety of states. This data was assigned numeric color values and projected onto a standing wave of water which corresponded to the dominant recorded brain wave. http://miascreen.com/archives/419
A study of concrète and instrument sounds – and quite cheerful.
I was sitting in my room in Hotel Monopol in full appreciation of their choice of leather chair. It’s only slightly present in this sketch. I’m sure there will be more celebration of it at some point. In a lead role.
Oh glory! Ha! I was wondering how to print a score on delicate tissue paper, as relatively thin newspaper paper still seems to be a bit too heavy for the sound that I’m after…. the answer came through the letterbox in the shape of a (new) phonebook, today. Put straight into good use.
It sounds particularly nice pre-crinkled. #turnerpiece
Last few days the tide has been very far out, a Spring spring tide. It creates a great opportunity to collect seaweed. While I was clumsily vacuum packing some sun dried crispy Irish Moss, one package wasn’t air tight and starting to refill with oxygen, which created a fabulous sound. I shot up with the faulty package to a mic and recorder, before it finished refilling, and captured it.
This particular sonic texture is something I have a fascination with lately, as such this recording made my day. Tried some effects processing on it. It’s interesting how clearly and metally the bell sound effect rings – using only a filterbank – which is all to do with the versatility of the raw sound.
Often when you want to make a field recording, it’s like the entire world sets out to make sure your recording efforts will fail. At that very illusive moment suprème the neighbour’s dog will bark, an aircraft will rumble, batteries will die, some far too cheerful hikers will laugh right through it, the wind decides to participate – all to obscure my delicate subject in ear shot. Many of us types will recognise this.
Yesterday was different.
I wanted to record the Stenaline ferry hoot. It echoes superbly through a vast area. Firstly, its sound reflection get smashed to pieces at Lower Fishguard harbour, then will reflect back from Dinas Head, followed by Cat Rock in Newport, to a far reflection all the way from Cardigan Bay.
There I was – in time for the Ferry departure, perfect recording location, no sigh of wind, all dogs were on a break, battery was charged, no air traffic. Just utterly utterly perfect.
And then the Ferry didn’t hoot.
This is what it sounds like when the ferry doesn’t hoot.
A knitted piece. Slightly SciFi of course… ;)
(more about knitting music here)
Composing, creating art – it’s a mental game. One moment you spend hours on a piece, next moment you throw it in the corner.
Fished this fragrant piano sketch out of my digital bin. Maybe I’ll iron it.
Current Spring/Summer’15 issue of Vogue Knitting features an article about my Knitted Music and the MATA NYC concert, which is on sale right now as a hardcopy or e-version https://store.vogueknitting.com/p-3245-vogue-knitting-2015-springsummer.aspx
This is an introduction to a further collaboration with Vogue Knitting at their next VK Live NYC event in January ’16.
I’m very pleased this composition is welcomed outside of the contemporary music scene. The piece resonates the natural soundscape that surrounds me in Pembrokeshire, where many sheep graze, growing their wool for knitting ….music.
“Launched to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee, ‘60 Years in 60 Poems’ was commissioned for The Space in 2012. At the very outset Faber teamed up with Somethin’ Else. Somethin’ Else took what started as a fairly loose brief, explored concepts and considered every essential of accessible user-centered design, and assembled a crack production team.
Carol Ann Duffy’s bestselling anthology Jubilee Lines was interpreted using actors’ recordings, sound-based generative design and archive film footage to create an exciting new way to enjoy poetry.”
This is a soundtrack I made for the poem ‘Winged Back’ by Dannie Abse, marking the year 1953 in this project.
Whilst preparing the effects processing for the Shakespeare And Hedgeshear concert in Wroclaw, I got distracted by the fabulous sounds developing in my sacred space being my headphones world. You can hear the pingpong balls creating an entire biome.
I have been trying out whether or not to use sound processing on the paper sounds, resulting in a few hours worth of Paper FX recordings, very soundscape-like – stormy, watery, leafy all the way to actual beats and rhythms. Below is a random sound bite from these recordings for this week’s Sonic Sketchbook. It’s just fascinating how one source of sound can change into so many different guises.