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  • Writer's pictureDouglas McCausland

Audio Demo #2 // Exploring the extremes of gesture and fragmentation

Updated: May 30, 2018

As I continue to develop the fixed-media for this installation, I've been asking myself a number of questions in regards to the compositional development of the material. In my previous post, I mentioned that in the excerpt, I was trying to explore the threshold between "real" and "imaginary" sound worlds - to try and craft a liminal space by navigating that continuum between those poles. Other compositional questions I have asked myself have included:

  • How I'm considering sound design from the perspective of space, and the interrelation of nodes that run on a timer with those that are motion-detected.

  • The desired intelligibility of speech in various excerpts - as opposed to its complete obliteration in others, and again exploring that threshold in between, maintaining enough of speech patterns to allow for source-recognition, but not enough to allow for syntax to be understood.

  • The degree to which I am capable of critiquing and dialoguing in a nuanced way with the content both in fixed composition, and in performance.

I hope to address these questions in their own posts in the future, but my topic for this post is the extremes of gesture and fragmentation of sonic materials from a compositional perspective. To help illustrate this in the context of this work's development, I have shared a second audio demo of some of the most chaotic materials I've composed so far - with at times an almost constant sense of forward momentum and inertia which is being continuously interrupted by fragmentations and schisms. Feel free to listen to that excerpt through the following link:

[EDIT: The original link is broken, and has been replaced with the following link:]

At the core of this excerpt, there are three auditory streams occurring - introduced shortly after the opening gesture. The first is a series of harmonic tones recorded from hard-drives using telephone induction coils. Meanwhile, the second is a continuous rhythmic "chattering", which is the result of granular synthesis performed on a spoken word sample from the radio broadcasts. Alone, these two streams occupy a fairly wide frequency; however, the third stream is radio static, adding quite a bit of high-frequency content to the spectrum. In the end, these three streams form a spectrally rich texture on their own - but their perception is constantly being interrupted by spatialized shots of extreme distortion, and extreme high / low frequency tones. With these interruptions of the core stream, I'm trying compositionally to explore and push the limits of sonic gesture and fragmentation of audio. The speed at which fragmentations occur speeds up throughout the short excerpt, but generally the core audio resumes. However, that relationship of interruption and return to source starts to break down as the amount of chaos increases, with the interruptions ultimately returning to silence, or only a high-pitched ringing. Ultimately in this particular excerpt, the fragmentations give away to the source - and allow it to continue. However, in other parts of the piece, this may not be the case - begging the question, how can fragmentation of materials be pushed further? How is that fragmentation augmented by the presence of a performer operating within the existing soundscape, or how is that further augmented by the presence of three other audible nodes potentially occurring simultaneously in the same space?

These are questions which are informing the composition of the various parts of this piece - and I hope through this process, and through these reflections, I can arrive at a result which is ultimately musically fulfilling both for me, and the listener.

Thanks for reading!

**EDIT LOG: The original link in this post to the second demo has been replaced with a link to the full release of [re]Glossolalia // Wave 1.**

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