Graphic score from visual art: speedy soundscape composition - Artist's Talk at ROAR

I was approached to create a short piece based on a cutting taken from a large artwork donated by Ken Horne, member and manager at ROAR. I was also asked to provide a brief explanation of my approach.

My first reaction to the cutting was how familiar the image looked to the style of various graphic scores I've seen, played from and composed. My first step was to tag the work with sticky notes on which I wrote my immediate reactions so I could then spend more time thinking about the soundscape I might create...I was given just two weeks!

Noticing the controlled ranges of colours and shapes and how they seemed to move across the page filled my imagination with ideas of an open wind-swept landscape and the sounds of small unseen creates moving in their own unique way. This prompted me to use a mixture of found objects which included a metal filing cabinet, screws and pieces of wood as well as traditional instruments; I knew I would need to spend time sitting and playing with the unfamiliar sounding objects to find out what they are capable of. I recorded the instruments and sounding objects using a combination of contact and ambient microphones to try and create texture in the sounds themselves. In the end, I edited in some changes of volume and panning, as well as cleaning up some of the chops and gaps using Logic Pro X for the Mac.

This experience has reminded me how much I enjoy improvisation working from a score and also brought back some buried thoughts on improvisation and composition.

Listen to the Unnamed Soundscape

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