2017 in a nutshell

How was your year? It’s always exciting to look forward to a new year, making and setting up a fresh plan with a full of motivation! At the same time, it is very important to think about the past year, what are the achievements, and what I have missed. 

This post is about my memorable activities of the year 2017. I selected 4 activities:

  1. DELETION at International Film Festival Rotterdam


    ‘DELETION’ is a short film made by Esther Urlus, who I met two years ago for Light Leak project with Filmwektplaats. She’s a special filmmaker in The Netherlands, who create DIY 16mm experimental films. The length of the film is around 10 minutes, completely abstract, accordingly there was enough space for me to explore with sounds. The film is about a murder scene -accordingly, a horror movie!- but you don’t see or recognize anything through the screen. The story is behind the complete abstract scenes. The soundtrack therefore has a big role for audience to follow the story line.
    Thankfully this film was nominated at Tiger Competition for Short Films 2017 at IFFR, which gave me a totally new experience to attend the festival, sitting there with other amazing filmmakers and actors/actresses. Even though the film wasn’t the winner, it was for me a great achievement. I hope to have more opportunities working on films. I quite like it.

  2. Azimuth #3

    ‘Azimuth’ is a foundation that their multichannel system offers composers/artists to create spatial music/arts with the system. Azimuth #3 was my first experience with it. The piece I wrote is ‘Punky-Pulse-Pool’ for 32 channels.
    The materials were created from a short theme, a gesture using pulse oscillator, and as in variations on a theme, it was developed, manipulated, and re-synthesized into diverse forms. Then instead of presenting them one after another, they were massively and randomly thrown in time and in space. As if one freely plays a puzzle with multiple different blocks, the layered and squeezed sound materials are then sculpted and re-organized not only musically but also spatially. In that way new relationships between sound events are revealed, and the allied, survived sound parts are newly developed from there with a found connectivity.
    I wrote the blog post about my experience in more detail.

     

  3. ‘Bamboos’ for Bamboos


    Some might remember those Bamboo instruments that I made a piece for some years ago. Then I wanted to do something different with it, and here I made a live piece using them. Here I use(make) them as resonating ‘electronic flutes’ using audio feedback system. When I close the holes, their original tone varies. The feedback works like ‘breathes.’ Then I apply a number of signal processing. Together with it, I attached small metal rings on the holes that are wired to Arduino that gives a low voltage flow. My touch could change its voltage as I am also connected to another analog circuit. In other words, the voltage flows throughout my body and whenever the contact is made between me and the instruments, it changed. The variation is chaotic, unpredictable. Then this signal is added to the feedback sound, which is related also to the movement of my fingers. The program note for the piece is below.

    Notes on “Bamboos”: Bamboos, their bodies, their own resonating voices. Every other gesture drives from there, as the performer continuously tries to distort, differentiate, and control them until the instruments and performer become strongly linked together. The whole space, occupied by bamboos’ stubborn voices whose struggles are running and jumping all over, later on becomes part of the resonating body, singing and breathing all together.

  4. Staff at the Institute of Sonology


    Probably the most surprising news was that I became a staff member in Sonology, where I studied and achieved Master Degree, for which I came here in The Netherlands. Somehow, probably it was my dream, one day, teaching here. Luckily and thankfully I got this opportunity.
    The subject I am teaching is ‘Spatial Music Composition for WFS system.’ The course is designed for students to plan and proceed their project with the WFS system and I give lectures on Spatial music with tons of musical examples of other composers, history on spatial music and spatialization system/tools, the meaning of space, musical space, and practical knowledge on how to use the WFS system. It demands quite some research that I enjoy very much. It is definitely a new experience for me, and there is far more to become better.

Well, that’s it. Now it’s the beginning of the new year 2018. I am very much looking forward to seeing what will come to my life. Hopefully it becomes a very creative, more musical, and inspiring year. It’s mostly up to me. 

I wish all of the readers a very happy new year!

 

Note on Azimuth #3 Concert : a new piece for 32 channels

Rough view of Azimuth #3 setup

Few months ago, I was invited to present a piece for 32 channel system of Azimuth foundation. Azimuth foundation(http://www.azimuthfoundation.net) is an organization of musicians/composers that organize concerts with their multichannel system that its configuration varies every edition. This time, they offered 32 channels: 8 circle outside, 4 quadra up and down at the corners of the hall, 8 circular center up, and down.

Then I thought I must write a new piece for it, although I didn’t have so much time left at the moment. I didn’t want to re-arrange an old piece that is written for a different system as this specific configuration can offer a number of interesting ideas to make a sound journey.

As I have been writing a lot for the WFS system (192 loudspeakers), my brain worked automatically the way I used to when writing for the WFS, which… could be described like : considering the whole space as an opened one, and creating my own ‘drawings.’

It wasn’t too long to realize that I was wrong in my approach, as this system is quite a different one. It is more like a ‘interwoven’ space that is made with a mixed up of different system(quad+multiple octa, and even stereos), accordingly different capacities. I couldn’t say that it is for a diffusion, nor for a spatialization. Rather a mixture of those two, especially with the setup in the center, speakers directing toward the audience, from up to down.

The speakers in the center, 8 up and 8 down toward the audience

The idea had to follow up of the ideal of the speaker setup. Then my composition should have to make sense as well. Then I thought it will be a good idea to have two specific ‘motions’ work together: 1. Some sound sources that are alive, moving, and having strong identities. 2. Clouds that are diffuse and support those main actors.

Previously, actually long time ago, I wrote a series of pieces for the WFS system, called ‘Enfolding Plane(I and II).’ Those are the pieces that I composed in order to study fully what the WFS could do with a variety of different spatial figures, of course with different sound materials. I thought it might be a good idea to add another piece into the series this time, so that I put ‘Enfolding Plane III’ title and gave a subtitle into it, which was ‘Punky Pulse Pool.’

I imagined a giant pool that several selfish pulse-character sounds are trying to occupy the space. It is rather a political fight than a violent one (as sometimes it could end up like that). I created a simple theme with pulse wave that has a small gesture, and started manipulate it into a variety of ways (I called it ‘variations’ in my program note). I had over 200 babies that came out from the theme. I was thinking of categorizing them first, then I thought, why not just trying to listen to them all together. Just out of curiosity.

I randomly placed (threw) all the sound files within 15 minutes time, listened to them, and then I hear a giant mass. (That was the moment that I made the title.) From there, without actually moving the sound files in time, I started cut them off. In other words, I started sculpting it, revealing what’s hidden, and sometimes hiding what’s representative. During this process, I also made decisions of where each sounds or parts of sounds should go and do. Are they staying? Moving? Diffuse? Heavy? Light? Slow? Fast? Overwhelming? Passing by? Supporting? Leading? Timid? And so on.

Localization of sounds is indicated with different colors

After that I moved the result into the WFS Collider, and then I gave them color marks based on my decisions in order to remember and to create the final tracks, and made note of it. This process took quite long. Longer than creating all the sounds.

The tricky part was the fact that I can’t test this in my studio. I wish I had 32 channels myself to try it out but well, I had to use fully my imagination.

Then I made a virtual setup that is similar to the original with the WFSCollider, the software for the WFS system, which, as I mentioned earlier, allows you to create your own space. Then I could have a bit of perspectives how it might sound.

Always very exciting to go for the first tryout with the actual system. This time wasn’t an exception. The most difficult part is to balance all the speakers as they are with different capacity/character. As it was the first time of listening, I spent most of the time making the balance.

Azimuth #3 Concert (22,Apr,2017)

The performance went well. A number of audience of course make the sound quite different, but it was alright. The difference between the WFS and this setup (or course there are many different aspects but if I mention as a biggest part of it) is how the chunk(mass) of sounds is heard; WFS is very good with a sound mass with vivid individuals, while this setup can’t give that amount of detail. However it forces you with much power. It moves you up and down, back and forth!

One of the interesting feedbacks from the audience: “I could feel that I am taking a shower at the giant water fall, but the water came from the bottom, not from the top!”

I feel grateful to have a wonderful experience, not only to compose but also to listen to the system. Multichannel exploration is never boring. There are still a lot to find, reveal. Discovering hidden spaces beyond our imagination.

A broken string instrument into a sound generating electronic instrument

These days, I am more interested in building something  that I can contribute myself, put more of my taste into it. In other words, I love analog synths and some other devices that are already designed by someone. I buy and assemble them because they are worth, and they are ones that I don’t have enough time and knowledge to design myself. It’s a whole different world. But I can probably build something much simpler, yet it is more what I want to do with.

So I grabbed the arduino again after few years. First time when I picked up the arduino, I thought I had lack of understanding in general. I could follow the instructions but I didn’t have enough ideas what to do with it. Now after assembling and building few electronic devices, I kinda wanted to go back there and see if I could do something more interesting.

Then I also had this broken string instrument that I got from a second hand market for 2 euro. The string is simply metal wire, and I could imagine that the electronic current can flow into it, and make something, just something!

So, I tried to feed the voltage into it. The feeding tool is the Arduino. I used the 330k ohm resister in between and simply let the voltage flow. Then I put a piezo into a body of the instrument and it is not to detect the sound of the instrument body as in general use of it, but I connect the wire of the voltage into the piezo, and it more works like buzzer.

Most important element is the human body : this works only with the human body as the conductive object, like a switch, -or could work with any conductive material-. Any part of my body needs to be wired as well (one hand attached to the wire, and the other hand touching the instrument), otherwise there is no current flow between the body and the instrument.

I am very happy with the result. Now I am on the stage of feeding some various voltages into different strings to make some different sound pitches, and so far it works. I put a metal in between and connect that into the ground. By this grounding, it can cancel the voltage, meaning that it can also reduce the voltage in time to generate some glissando effect, or a very distorted noise.

After finishing this design, I am going to make it as a performing tool, connecting with the computer to process the sound as well. This is already on going.