Sound artists have experimented with everyday noises for centuries. Now this music is making a comeback.
The Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson uses music as a key focus of many of his performance and video works. In the work entitled A Lot of Sorrow (2014) for example, he staged a performance at MOMA PS1 in which he invited the American band The National to play their well-known song Sorrow repeatedly for six hours.
Maryanne Amacher was an experimental sound artist who composed music and created site-specific sound installations. Early in her career she played music on multiple tape machines and mixed them live. She was interested in the experience and perception of sounds in particular spaces.
To celebrate the exhibition of the Lindisfarne Gospels on Palace Green, Durham from July to September 2013, award–winning wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson has researched the sonic environment of the Holy Island as it might have been experienced by St Cuthbert in 700 A.D.
John Oswald’s piece de resistance. Twenty minutes of some of the most insane editing, cross-fading, beat matching, cultural name dropping and sampling. No other work even comes close to the intensity of Plexure. John Oswald proves he is a virtuoso of Pro Tools, over a thousand different artists edited, spliced and mixed together.
Long before sampling, hip hop, needle drops and mashups John Cage had created his incredibly dense magnetic tape cut-up masterwork Williams Mix (1952).
Here’s an example of a more cut and paste style of editing by the experimental outfit P16.D4
The microphone alters listening. The mere comparison between how our ears listen and how the microphone picks up sounds in the environment, brings alerted awareness to the soundscape. Not only the recordist’s listening is intensified, often also that of people witnessing the microphone’s presence. It creates an occasion and new significance of a place. Sometimes…
Michel Chion – Les Mots (from La Tentation de Saint Antoine 1991) La tentation de Saint-Antoine: a concrete melodrama in one prologue and nine tableaux adapted from Flaubert’s novel and composed in 1984
The conceit behind the 1989 edition of Luc Ferrrari’ “Presque Rien Avec Filles” is that a concealed composer/photographer records some girls having a picnic. If that sounds potentially passive and prurient, it ends up being neither. The opening nature sounds are soon elbowed aside by isolated words and exhalations, which are in turn blasted by bursts of a very late ’80s-sounding drum machine.
Using archive and field recordings, Chris Watson recreates a passenger ride across the country on a line that no longer exists. It’s been more than a decade since the last service operated by the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM). Watson spent a month on board one of the trains as a sound recordist working with a film crew documenting a BBC TV series on Great Railways Journeys. The atmospheres captured with sensitive microphones in the country reveal the environment at its most open, intimate and natural setting. An additional post-production of looping train samples, turns this mere field recording into a mesmerizing trip. This is more than just a sound portrait lifted off a television show. Watson composes a cinematic narrative bringing the listener (and the observer) into a setting unattainable alone.
[In the early 1960s] I was noticing that things didn’t sound the same when you heard them more than once. And the more you heard them, the more different they did sound. Even though something was staying the same, it was changing. I became fascinated with that […] In those days the first psychedelic experiences…
The idea of “sculpting” sound is a critical aspect Henry’s “approach” to composition. In 1981, Henry himself said, “The origin of this music is also found in the interest in ‘plastifying’ music, of rendering it plastic like sculpture.”
The Intonarumori were a family musical instruments invented in 1913 by italian futurist painter and musical composer Luigi Russolo. They were acoustic noise generators that permitted to create and control in dynamic and pitch several different types of noise.
The Well is constructed from sounds recorded in Istanbul: voices, machines, footsteps, tunnels, but also bronze cymbals and electric guitars. But it is not purely phonographic, it’s a personal journey through layers of narrative, memory, sounds and music – an attempt to uncover the secret well that lies deep under the city.