Articles

Making Sounds

Link to my Sound Sketch Book on Learning Blog:
http://vantageartprojects.com/jennifermawby.com/ma_journal/wordpress/?page_id=5041

In the last two years of the MA program I started making sound artwork, or studies as I prefer to call them. For my third year Final Project I scored a short, stop-motion experimental film in the manner that I’ve been making those studies. The sounds are made by my own voice and simple percussion. I breathe, and speaks, and tap and attempt to sing into the computer microphone. Once I get a simple pattern of sound or a rhythm going, I start to build layers on and modulate the sounds using effects in the simple computer program I use (Apple Garage Band). I think that I approach the building of these tracks like I would approach the making of a painting. Starting with a support and something to grip on to (like gesso on stretched canvas). Then I build up the layers with different “brushes” and add and remove marks in subsequent sessions until the work feels complete. I do not believe I approach the work in a musical way, nor do I consider myself a musician.

I started the first sound studies thinking about “genres” of music, in particular sound track music for films. Such types of scores, songs, and themes with the purpose of creating suspense, introducing the hero, expressing the loneliness of the road ahead. In sound studies recently made “La La La” is in the wandering genre. “Hero” is the theme of the champion. When I made the score for my third year project, The Liquid Gesture, I was for the first time scoring to moving image. (The sound was made after the final edit of the film was completed). I did not want the sound to be just an accompaniment to the images, nor did I want it to follow any kind of scrip. In The Liquid Gesture, the script is a Haiku poem and I think that my final project will likewise not have a script. I assume that I will approach the score for The Healing Room in the same way.

In March, I spoke with a cousin who is also a fledgling composer. Tristan and I had a valuable discussion around the idea of a score and ways to think about creating and composing music. My notes on our conversation are written in my sketch book, however one very interesting idea that fits my simplification of both sounds and genres is that of the Leitmotif, in particular in Wagnerian opera. The leitmotif is a signature sound (sometimes as simple as transition between notes) that announces the entrance or reappearance of a particular character. I like the notion that the audience is prompted in a way they may not even realize to know through sound who in the story is next being discussed. My original idea for The Healing Room is to use two characters – the Seer and the Seeker. However, the first actress that I cast for the Seer role has dropped out of the project. This will put constraints on my ability to complete the work for this character and also cast and develop the second, male character. I am going to try to find a replacement in enough time to also cast the Seeker. However, I am starting to make plans for introducing The Healing Room with a first single character, and then in the future build out the story further in a “ring” of tales, quite like Wagner.

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