My work is a four-channel sound collage, inspired by Christian Marclay’s work with vinyl records, and which explores a number of “unwanted” sounds using “incorrect” digital audio processes. My overall goal was to challenge and break “the rules” that I was taught as a music and audio student in the past, while also finding updated digital equivalents for Marclay’s processes in working with sound.
This rule breaking began with the sourcing of the sound material, which was recorded specifically for this project using “poor” microphone settings, as well as “cheap and nasty” homemade microphones. From there, the sounds were roughly chopped up, with no neat fades or other attempts to polish them, and were then manipulated and arranged experimentally to explore different sonic possibilities. Some of the intentional “mistakes” included in the work make use of clipping, extreme distortion, unsynchronised looping, high noise floor, haphazard panning, non-musical pitch manipulation, and “incorrect” speaker placement.
The work is through-composed, consisting of four main movement-like sections:
1. Rhythm, which makes use of a sampler constructed from a number of the more percussive sounds,
2. Noise, which begins with a cacophony that fades into loops reminiscent of Marclay’s vinyls,
3. The Birds, which emphasises the four channels and utilises some of the more unusual aspects of the sampler, and
4. Slow Death, which introduces increasing amounts of silence that lose their rhythm as the work comes to a close.
Recording with my Zoom H4n and homemade mics
To record the sounds for this project, I used both the built in condensers on the Zoom, and two homemade mics. The homemade mics were made in 2014 when I was studying Audio Engineering at the Australian Institute of Music. You may remember my video about Mr Microsaurus: https://youtu.be/jcu3WtS3AYA
The other microphone was called “Transfat Fishy” and formed the basic circuitry for my CYLON-M microphone that I submitted for my electronics class: https://youtu.be/hssbnz91XnE
I then used Audacity to separate the tracks from each other, since the Zoom creates stereo tracks rather than giving each mic its own track, and I also chopped up the audio in that program as well. Audacity is a really simple audio editing program that’s also free! You can’t do as much on it as you can in something like Logic, which I used to put the track together, but it does let you play around and do a lot of basic stuff really easily. If you just wanna muck around with some sounds, it’s worth checking out: http://www.audacityteam.org/