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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sculpted Sound, Mental Landscapes...

image Last night I went to Audium with a couple of good friends who just returned from two weeks in Hong Kong. It was a very nice evening, as those kind of evenings are wont to be.

So anyway, Audium. Interesting. Very interesting. Picture a small circular room with sound panels hanging from the ceiling and speakers in the walls and hanging from overhead. As the "music" begins, the lights slowly go down until its so dark that you can't even see your thoughts. There are tiny arrows on the floor that are lit from below that you could use to find your way out, but they were so tiny that their glow nearly eaten by the darkness...yes, it was that dark.

Seats were set in concentric rings with each being about two feet from the one beside it, so as the music began, and moved through the room, there was the sensation of being alone in this void...but there were things in the darkness...memories and mechanical bugs, and birds flying over purling water. The sounds seemed designed to trigger the inner eye.

The complete darkness enhanced the experience, though I couldn't help feeling that the soundscape could be even better...more movement...more focus on little sounds that ended up having the most impact, and you guessed it, more unease.

I wanted to feel like there was something beside me, in the darkness, just out of sight, breathing down my neck. Certainly not through the entire presentation, but every once in a while. And I wanted a score that moved through me. The music was little more than a series of sound experiments strung together, ehich is fine, but not as emotional.

That's not to say that that it didn't move me, just that it felt disjointed, like when he composed it, it was merely a series of "how will this sound" moments, rather than a cohesive whole.

Did I enjoy it? Yeah, a lot, but there's so much potential with the format, I came away wanting more. At the end, during a questions and answers period, the composer was asked about other people working in the space. It was obvious that over the 40 years he'd been working with this, he's been a bit protective. But it appears that he's now giving it some serious thought...I for one would be interested in hearing what other composers would do with it, even listening to like a play, designed to play in 3-D space. Lots of possibilities...


Charles Gramlich said...

I've come to appreciate complex harmonic music more as I've gotten older. But it's still an intellectual excercize with me. It doesn't generally move me emotionally.

Sidney said...

Sounds like a great experience!

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This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.