Post-Sonorities autopsy, and a confession

Thursday 2 May 2013

I’m back from Belfast and had a great time at Sonorities, even though I’d under-packed for the unexpectedly cold and wet weather. The theme at Sonorities this year was “Beyond Soundscape”, which I shamelessly pandered to by preparing a new mix of Third City: Walking on Red and Blue.

It was only at the soundcheck that it occurred to me, that every other presentation of this piece has been determinedly lo-fi. The original recordings, even though they were made on DAT, were dubbed onto cassette and played through boom-boxes in their original gallery presentation. Other iterations of the piece were highly compressed and played through small headphones in public areas. This mix was put together with only a pair of desktop speakers plugged into my laptop. Now at Queen’s University I suddenly got to play with this:

Forty-odd speakers in multi-level surround sound. Ordinarily I’d expect everything to sound fabulous in such an environment, but because it was my own stuff I was suddenly worried that a vast host of shortcomings would be revealed. Luckily, my piece also sounded (ahem) fabulous which at least meant I didn’t have to cringe so much when keeping tabs on the faders during the performance.

Now, for the confession: I have a real problem with the idea of soundscapes, and field recordings. Even with the new toy, there’s a whole bunch of issues around distortion and mediation which I need to think through before I go any further in working with it in the field. That video I posted starts to address these ideas.

In any case, here’s the mix I presented at Sonorities, now on Soundcloud for your home listening enjoyment.