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At CultureLab Newcastle [3]

So it's already Thursday in the second week. This week was much more full than I expected. But in a good way.

On Monday I presented a preview of Vreemdeling for a group of staff members, PhD students, Kazuhiro Jo who will be a research fellow at CultureLab next year and John Bowers who was visiting for a lecture in computing - and received a lot of usefull feedback.
A selection of the various thoughts:

  • I believe most of them liked the lack of artificial reverb - something quite more common in more traditional diffusion works, to exaggerate distance in the sound. I wasn't really aware of it, because (as I realized then) in my work I generally don't use artificial reverb (or any other 'regular' effect like delay, compression). That has been in fact some of the criticism I received on my live electronics work, that it is very dry and close. I like that ;)
  • What was also generally recognized is that the work is mainly playing with sound coming out of separate speakers - not so much exposing the space. This is again my preference for dry sound I guess. The day after I opened all the curtains to see how it would sound to let the space reverberate more - I didn't like it. Too fuzzy, unclear.
  • Talking about how and why moving sounds around the general idea was that I could do a bit more with diffusing 'active' sounds, sounds that suggest a lot of gesture lend themselves (and in fact are expected) to move around more in space.
  • John liked the volume level - I have been stuggeling a bit with the levels. I like them quite high, but the Genelec speakers disagreed at first. Rolling off the bass on the speaker itself didn't do much, but applying a lowpass filter in the software, before it even gets to the speakers, allowed me to boost their volume. The low frequencies were dealt with anways by the two subs.
  • On my question on alternative speaker setups we talked a bit about how that could be made a bit more interesting than the more or less traditional all around setup I have now. Jaime mentioned (and we talked about that the evening before during dinner) using different speakers, putting them in various places, under tables, in boxes. But that's not feasible for now - especially since I'd have to reprogram SuperCollider and Resound. Not enough time. But it would be interesting working on this at another time.
  • Regarding strategies of diffusing - I guess that's for one just gaining experience. I'm curious to hear James' treatment of the various groups during Friday's concert.

The days after that I've been working on details regarding the difusion strategies - trying out various gestures with the various soundlayers in the composition, moving some speakers around, repairing a breaking down joystick by re-scaling it in SuperCollider. In Nuendo (where the piece is played from) I added markers with descriptive titels as a sort of diffusion score. When performing the diffusion I'm zoomed in in Nuendo so I can visualy see some of the movements in the sound and anticipate its position in space.

Next to this there were the social gatherings of course - meeting with the staff of CultureLab and the local arts scene for dinner, having some discussions with Jaime , Sally Jane and Atau.

Last but not least I've been playing a bit with Bennett (Hogg), Paul (Bell) and John (Ferguson) as a 4tet for the concert, and quite a bit in a duo with John on guitar - we've also recorded some, and I'm very curious to hear what we put down, as it felt really good while we were doing it.

(not even mentioning dealing with emails - the first week I could pretend for a little while that STEIM and the current situation there were far away, but not this week, with all the activities next week when I'll be back)

Finally here's a video with me explaining the current setup with the diffusion system (also see Wikipedia - acousmatic music).

Some interesting links from last week: