Tuesday, 3 May 2011


As I am essentially creating soundscapes I thought I would research into origins and the definitions of them. The term was first coined by R. Murray Schafer, a Canadian composer best known for his World Soundscape Project. It's goal is "to find solutions for an ecologically balanced soundscape where the relationship between the human community and its sonic environment is in harmony." This refers to "Acoustic ecology" which is basically the connection between living things and their environment through sound. This can be presented in many ways but often having recorded sounds of the environment carried by an orchestra. This is far more literal than my work yet still relevant.
I have found using a wok creates a really nice sound when stationary but also when it's tilted after being struck you can bend the note made as the water changes position in context to the rest of the wok. This is possibly something to look into.

Plastic Experiments

All of the previous experiments have produced very high-pitched sounds. I tried to acheive bass notes with a larger, more hollow object and using a softer material like plastic. Just like the glass you create different pitches depending on how full the bottle is but the sound is always very dull. The fuller the bottle was the better the sound but still very flat. I found using the drumstick was the best thing to strike the bottles with but the sound just wasn't of a good enough quality to use.

More Experimenting

The bottles and jars are my preferred objects to use. They produce bright, unique sounds and the pitch can be altered by simply adding water. As you can see I marked the bottles to show the level with water and 'X-ed' them to show the level at which the sounds were clearest and kindest to the ear.

Some Experimenting

Just a few things from my kitchen which I decided to capture sound from. The sound produced from the plate and bowl is surprisingly crisp. The flat, cirlcular shape gives great resonance much like an actual cymbal does.

Experimenting & Equipment

I have found that whilst experimenting with sound the object with which you strike the 'instrument' makes the sound differ greatly. The carving knife produces a strong, metallic sound but can leave harsh overtones. This is ok for larger bottles but too piercing for smaller objects like jars. The drumstick as you would expect produces a 'woody' sound which is far softer and more appropriate when striking metal. The butter knife is much like the carving knife but less overbearing, suitable for smaller objects. The spoon is similar to this. The fork has less of a solid impact which is ok for very high-pitched sounds but doesn't work with things like woks/saucepans.


I once read a theory that everything has a limit to the amount of heartbeats it has in a lifetime, which is a similar number throughout all varieties of mammals. The theory is that the smaller the animal is, the faster its heart beats therefore it dies sooner than a larger animal whose heart beats slower, thus living longer. The hypothesis was first proposed by a biologist named Raymond Pearl in 1926. The theory is not an exact science and is disregarded as solid fact by the general thought behind it is considered to be true. I liked the thought of a heartbeats counting down like a ticking clock and wanted to show this through sound. Being a drummer I wanted single notes rather than a constant sound to represent each beat, much like the heart itself. This is where I began experimenting with various objects.

John Cage

John Cage is a huge figure in the world of music and art and the combination of the two. He is best known for his 4'33". A piece of music in which during the whole 4 minutes and 33 seconds of 3 movements not a single note is played, yet a full orchestra and conductor is present. This was "unheard" of in 1952, when it was written. It delves into ideas of how sound is perceived and that the environment, the room and the people within it are all a part of the music. This got me thinking about whether absolute silence can ever be acheived. I came to the realisation that even in the deepest most silent part of the world as a living thing we constantly make sound through our heartbeats and breathing. This is how I came to looking at life and the universe.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I've been looking at musicians as a whole. I remembered watching a Terry Bozzio video where he made a huge drum kit that was more of a melodic instrument rather than percussive. All the way through the piece was a heartbeat which I thought made him relevant. Also Terry looks at music, particularly drums in a completely different way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZIoor6guPI&feature=related

Terry is best known for his work with Frank Zappa, famously producing "The Black Page". A piece of music said to be a musician's nightmare because of the frightening amount of notes. When put into notation, the page appears black.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


I really enjoyed the trip. 52 Renshaw Street was my favourite. There were trippy videos in the basement that had me mesmerized for about half an hour. Crazy stuff about American youth. Messed with my head. I couldn't find a plaque anywhere that said who the artist was though. Unlucky. Crosby Beach was nice too. I wanted to see the Gormley Statues for a while now. Finally saw them.


Group activities! "The thing I hate most"-themed party. We decided to have The Pope as the thing we hated most even though it wasn't true in most people. The altar/ shrine we built was apparently originally too offensive (we had a complaint from a fellow student) so we had to change it slightly. I thought it was actually justified as the icons that had to be removed were about money and the gross riches that The Pope is used to and the fact he had just visited Britain which cost the country millions. Even so they had to be taken down and reassure people that weren't trying to cause any trouble. Once we handed out the wine it was all good. The party itself was fun, it was nice to interact with other people on the course. The thing that interested me most was talking to second years. They were talking about how they thought uni was easier to get into this year rather than last. In most cases this course was their second choice. It made me look at the course in a different way, not that I was having any doubts. Still it was interesting to see what they had to say, especially as this was my first choice.
Having to make a sweded version of Avatar was significantly more challenging than hosting. We were put into different groups as well which gave us a chance to get to know more of the group. The filming of it was hilarious. I had a lot of fun but not much hopes for the quality of the actual film. This was until I saw the editing done by Beth, one of the people in my group. I was very impressed. We also viewed all the others. It's nice to see what can be done witth such short notice and with limited resources. Very cool.
Lectures are...strange. I'm sure there's a point and it's impressive to have someone with so much knowledge talking to you but I'm not entirely convinced they are going to help me. I'm sure I'm wrong but either way I'll walk in with an open mind.

The Year Begins.

The first week of uni was enlightening/exciting. The inductions showed off the facilities very well particularly the Mac suite, which I am looking forward to useing. We had the task set to find 5 things in the city: A specialist shop; a good place to eat; A museum or gallery; a "surprise" and a Manchester find. I know the city quite well anyway but I thought that this was a good way to open our eyes a little more as we were actively searching for specific things. I really enjoyed the trip to the Imperial War Museum on friday. I thought the building itself was beautiful although it was a grim day and Fresher's flu kicked in fully that day. The museum experience was different to any other as well by having interviews of war survivors projected onto the walls. Very interesting. Also we got together in groups to present our findings from the day before. Nice way to interact with some people. Very active week coupled with all the Fresher's week celebrations.