October 22, 2016

At around 11.00 am yesterday, I thought I could smell my mother’s face powder close by. She used to keep it in a tarnished gold compact on her dressing table. Its a scent that I associate mostly closely, and only, with her. How strange. An olfactory memory, perhaps:


Throughout Friday I rationalised my notes for the conference paper — bringing together divers sources and initial ruminations, developing PowerPoint slides in tandem, and scribbling further marginalia. I’m having to think out this project (and its wider implications) as a whole, while at the same time condensing that whole to a twenty-minute paper, even before its dimensions are properly discerned. Not easy. I already have more material that I can possibly incorporate into a 3,000-word script. However, the residue will provide the foundations for a more extensive discussion about sound and the Bible, which will likely be the substance of a book chapter:


In the evening I began setting up test equipment and putting together a poster for the Dialogues 4 sound project, which will be audible during the next university Open Day, on 12 November. My recent recording of the squeaky print drying rack will be the found-sound source for this collaboration:


I’d set aside today to rigorously test a variety of set-ups for the Dialogues 4 project.  I want to preserve the integrity of the found-sound while, at the same time, exploring its character by isolating, stressing, and extending or enlarging its salient sonic features. In so doing, I aim to articulate (to make comprehensible) the artefact that produced the sound. To this end, the following regulations governed my thinking:

  • Honour the object-basis of the work: the drying rack.
  • Think about the structure of the drying rack: the repetition of a grid in layers, descending and ascending.
  • Stress the reflections made by the drying rack: the reverberation is an essential characteristic of its articulated sound.

The structure of the  rack’s layered shelves were acknowledged by stacking seven versions of the source track one on top of the other on the digital audio software’s visual interface. The pitch of each track was an octave lower than the one above it. A ‘dry’ (that is to say, unmodified) version of that signal was sent to one pair of inputs on the mixer, and two ‘wet’ (that is to say, modified) versions of the same, to two other pairs. In this way, the characteristics of both the original recording and the drying rack’s sonority are preserved alongside the modulated versions of the same:


The resultant sound is reminiscent of a church organ. By the close of the afternoon I’d established three discreet signal paths: one ‘dry’ path; another, a ‘wet’ path via four Eventide modulators; and another, a ‘wet’ path via six Moogerfoogers, an OTO Biscuit bit crusher, an Sherman/Rodec Restyler, and reverb effectors. Conservation and transformation in tension. This was a more than satisfactory beginning.


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