My Sonic Art
Insights and Techniques for Composing Sound-Based Music
Windsong is an installation that converts wind pressure and direction into music in real time. It features three levels of synthesis: wind sound, aeolian harp tones and wind chimes. All sounds are tuneable and scalable allowing the user to customise sonic properties such as wind strength and intensity, fundamental pitch, harmonic series, number of chimes, etc. The result is an energy re-balancing musical texture that can be played in any house on a continuous basis. A glance at the plants outside and position of the wind vein provides a visual indicator of the complexity of the wind, which forms an isomorphic relationship with the sounds produced by the sensors. While creating this work, my partner and I were experimenting with soundtracks to help our newborn baby sleep. We found that increasing the white noise content of the wind sound immediately had this effect, and that the gentle undulating sounds of the aeolian harp brought a deep sense of peace to our home. The adjustable tuning also allowed me to 'play along' with taonga pūoro and guitar. What started as a creative idea turned out to have purpose in our lives.
Wavesong makes use of environmental sensors that measure the flowrate of breaking waves at Muriwai Beach. The operator’s interactive session begins with the experience of standing in the waves, seeing and hearing them race towards her/him, and feeling them break over her/his body. She/he will also normally experience outgoing waves as an increase in pressure and water flow on the back of the legs together with an undermining of sand and stability at the base of the heels. Sounds that are naturally produced through this already arresting and dynamic interactive system are primarily experienced in combination with other multimodal perceptual affordances. Augmentation of this experience develops slowly over time, allowing a process of sonic metamorphosis (heard through headphones) to occur. Wavesong presents musical sonifications of incoming, outgoing and still-water wave-flows, converting natural energies into sound, which in turn promotes a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural forces in play. In making and experiencing this work, I have learned a great deal about incoming and outgoing waves - which, I now know, occur simultaneously!