• Douglas McCausland

Notes / Thoughts on Future Developments

I was prompted in a meeting with Martin Parker, to start working occasionally on a kind of "brain dump" of all the thoughts and content related to this project that may be of particular interest in the context of the final written document. What follows is a raw - stream of consciousness session during which I considered many of the core themes and questions I'm hoping to tackle with this project.


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  • Explore the limits of the traditionalist ‘ontological’ parameters of what a “composer” is - examining how I am adhering to my creative heritage, and also diverting from it. The product I have created really, especially for myself, blurs the lines between traditional creative “roles”. Am I operating as a composer? A performer? A sound designer? A sound artist? An installation designer? An ‘artist’? A software designer? A music technologist? An audio researcher?

    • The fact that none of this work will inhabit a traditional “concert space” is an important node here, all of it is taking place in a gallery, a stairwell, an elevator shaft, in the “digital realm”, etc.

  • Attempting to push the limits of intelligibility of text, fragmentation, and musical form - the idea of ‘liminality’ and the creation of liminal space (as well as the infinite shades of grey therein) as a compositional parameter.

  • Exploring the methodology of the construction of musical material, and its form in time and space (literal space).

    • This project is bookended by two heavily pre-composed performances, linked halves of the same piece - that are ultimately performed separately, and separated in time by a number of weeks. The second half being created in some ways as a reaction to experiencing the first half after it “inhabited” the space.

    • Meanwhile, the time in-between the bookending performances are a sort of “echoing” and fragmented version or iteration of that original impetus. They inhabit the space as a fragmented installation, and the space lends them a sort of further layer of meaning and sonic color / treatment that is specific to the place they inhabit.

    • How would this work be adapted in full to inhabit a different space? Would it change?

      • There are specific nuances to the construction of the TRG that are being used consciously to craft an experience from the perspective of the installation. For example:

        • Both entry routes have two “nodes” the listener experiences. One at ground level, which transitions from a looping “static” state, to an “active” state as the listener approaches - that actively attracts the listener’s attention. Meanwhile, in both routes, the listener also ascends to the second “node” - which is constantly playing in an active state. However, the acoustic treatments applied by the space are altered by the listener’s position, perspective, path, speed, and so on as they approach. In the lift shaft, it’s quite clearly as though someone is slowly pulling down the “wet” knob of a reverb and low-pass filter as the listener ascends - rendering the piece more audible, and the text more clear. The same is achieved (especially the reverb) as the listener ascends through the stairwell - with an added element of 3D-environmental cross-fading occurring between lower and higher sonic elements in the space. As one is neared, it becomes more clear - meanwhile, the other becomes more obscured.

  • The compositional and technological relationship between fixed media, algorithmic treatments (and analysis), and performance in audio as a methodology of creating a performed piece that is neither wholly fixed, improvised, or performed - but rather a blend of all three aspects, in order to lend each performance an important aspect of flexibility and nuance within a flexible Max/MSP environment.

  • How can music act as commentary and critical critique of real-world problems? In this case, how can I openly engage with these problematic radio broadcasts without being ham-fisted, or without being prescriptive? How, through sound, can I consciously explore these concepts from a critical perspective?

  • How does this work operate as a companion to ‘Glossolalia’, and how do its internal parts operate as companion to each-other? My MM thesis explored the concept of paratactic links between thematic, musical, sonic, and instrumental elements as an exploration of form? Is there a similar concept or methodology I am employing which can map the overall formal schema at play? Is this paratactic linking of compositional concepts continued, or is it something else?

  • To what degree have I tried to make this a piece of art, more than just a tech demo? Why is it that I hate “tech demos” so much - is it purely aesthetic reasons, is it lazy, is it that it’s a lost opportunity?

  • How integral is the hardware-hacked concept to this truly? Does it matter in the end, that the radio is circuit-bent beyond a sonic fact - does it matter that the voice odder is utilized beyond a sonic result? Is the fact that they are handmade, that they are hacked devices - is that integral? Short answer: Yes, but why? Is it this concept I’ve been grappling with about keeping experimental electronic music accessible from a financial perspective? Is it my avoidance of using traditional “gear” due to my boredom with it? Is it a product of my lack of financial stability? Does my lack of options due to my financial state, and avoidance of traditional gear, provide me with a unique lens to the creation of my work?

  • How has reading through Denis Smalley’s (and other’s) work on spectromorphology and source-bonding influenced my approach to creating this musically? Have I been consciously trying to create sonic relationships that I think are perceivable to the listener at a “quick glance” while also providing content that is deep enough for them to continue dissecting?

  • How is the medium of a release of music / art intrinsically linked to its consumption and reception for a listener? The release of this work is still developing - the list of final deliverables is growing - what is the best method of synthesizing this in the end as a digital “document” of the work in its totality?

    • EP / Audio Release

      • Track-order?

        • Wave 1

        • Sporadic miniatures, and snippets, installation sounds and fragments

        • Wave 2

        • (Continued…? Post-Compositional Reflections and continuities?)

    • Videos / 1st person walkthroughs (binaurally encoded)

    • Diagrams (create technical diagrams of the space, and the placement of speakers)

    • Technical information of the work: equipment used, speakers, software, instruments made or hacked

    • Code, Max/MSP research done and developed

    • Impulse Responses / Documentation

    • Images and Photography / Spectral Information

    • Written Documentation - more formal

    • Blog Posts - less formal

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