How authentic is electronic music?
A conversation with Petri Kuljuntausta
Petri Kuljuntausta is one of the most important figures in contemporary Finnish electronic music. An eclectic composer, he achieved international notoriety as performer and recording artist in many European countries, Australia and the USA. Kuljuntausta tackled a wide variety of electronic music styles, besides those discussed in the present interview, including also digital music for experimental films, visual art and dance projects, media and sound installations in museums, galleries and concert halls. Among his many collaborators, the experimental film director Sami van Ingen, the urban architecture group Ocean-North, composers Morton Subotnick and Atau Tanaka, sound artist Richard Lerman, zoomusicologist Dario Martinelli and musician/philosopher David Rothenberg.
Kuljuntausta is also active as a musicologist, being, a.o., the author of On/Off, an 800 page-long History of Finnish Electronic Music. In 2005 he won the prestigious Finnish State Prize for Art, from the Finnish government as a distinguished national artist.
Talking to him, one gets the comforting idea of an artist who does not pretend not to know where his art comes from and what are the aesthetic values it relies upon (as instead many composers snobbishly do): Kuljuntausta knows how, and likes, to talk about his music and his artistic program. His competence and theoretical awareness made the following interview dense and pleasant.
PERFORMING, PLAYING… ALL THESE TERMS SEEM TO BE A BIT ‘SUI GENERIS’ WHEN ELECTRONIC MUSIC (ESPECIALLY THE TYPE THAT YOU DO) IS INVOLVED. WHAT IS, IN YOUR OPINION, THE DEFINITION OF ‘MUSICAL PERFORMANCE’, AND HOW DOES THAT APPLY TO YOUR MUSICIANSHIP?
I would define musical performance as a context where the performer has the possibility to affect the inner parameters of the musical work, and s/he may do it during the event. When these conditions are met, then we have musical performance (and not just playback of a musical piece). So, basically, if there is room for interpretation and participation in music, then we are dealing with musical performance. But, of course, the amount of participation and interpretation could vary quite much depending on the style or aesthetic of an electronic work.
WHAT TYPE OF “ELECTRONIC WORK” IS THEN YOUR WORK?
My repertoire contains very different kinds of work, but if we think about these from the perspective of musical performance, they could be categorized in at least five ways. In some categories the performer has more freedom to express his/her musicianship, especially in live contexts, but on the other hand works like media installations, do not need a musician. These five categories are:
1) studio compositions with live electronics
2) live electronic performances and improvisations
3) acousmatic compositions (fixed media works)
4) music for media installations
5) sound walk and soundscape compositions
THIS IS ACTUALLY A VERY INTERESTING AND DENSE WAY OF CLASSIFYING YOUR MUSICIANSHIP. COULD YOU DESCRIBE THESE CATEGORIES IN DETAIL?
Sure. The first category, Studio compositions with live electronics, contains the works that I compose in studio, but I do not finish entirely there, as I leave room also for live electronics. Thus, my works in this category, like Noise City, will be complete only at the concert performance. From the point of view of musical performance and musicianship, these works in my musical activity could be quite easily identifed as performative in traditional way. I am on the stage, I have my musical instruments, live electronic equipments, there, and with them I create, process and play sounds live. I play live material along with precomposed (studio) material which will be played from the computer or other data player.
WHAT DEGREE OF “INTERPRETIVE FREEDOM” IS LEFT BY A PERFORMANCE OF THIS KIND, WHICH IS ALREADY ‘FRAMED’ BY THE STUDIO MATERIAL?
When I play these works, studio compositions with live electronics, I have a “performance strategy” in mind. I operate inside the restrictions that I had created, but some of the performance details are left open. If I operate with the feedback sounds, as I often do, and generate these sounds on stage, it is impossible to reach precise control on these undeterminate sound subjects. So, I am prepared for this and have left room for chance-process in my compositions. I compose sections for feedback sounds, but the exact content of these sections will be always different, and the content will vary from performance to performance. Thus, the level of musicianship and performative activity is high and important in the works belonging to this category.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE SECOND CATEGORY OF YOUR LIST: LIVE ELECTRONIC PERFORMANCES AND IMPROVISATIONS?
The works in this category most clearly deal with the traditional concept of musicianship, as I have my electronic music instruments on stage, I play them in front of the music audience and create live sounds (or improvise spontaneously) in the concert situation.
SOME MAY OBJECT THAT YOURS ARE NOT NECESSARILY “REAL” INSTRUMENTS…
The instruments I play do not look like the traditional instruments (like a violin or a piano), but these are the musical instruments of our modern digital culture. I generate electronic sounds with them, modify sounds, make loops, control feedback textures and so on. There is nothing “unreal” in this.
In the context of a group format I play together with the (usually acoustic) musicians and process and sample their acoustic sounds live, electrify them, generate my own ones, and communicate with the other musicians by means of sounds. Thus the level of musicianship is extremely high in the works within this category as the live electronic performances are actually based on musicianship, the active role of the performer. I have also done few experimental DJ gigs where I have mixed CD music and sounds with my own music.
… AND THAT IS A RATHER INTERESTING POINT, WHEN TALKING ABOUT MUSICAL PERFORMANCE. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT DJ’ING? IS THAT “PERFORMANCE” IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE TERM?
A DJ is like a metaconductor, who conducts records instead of musicians. The discs contains the orchestras that the DJ leads. The musical repertoire and tools for the performance are canned on the discs, sound banks, and electronic boxes, and from there s/he activates the material that is needed in the performance: musics, loops, sound textures, sound effects, processing tools and so on. A common DJ just plays records, but for sure a creative DJ can raise something really creative out of his/her’s source material.
NUMBER THREE IN YOUR LIST: ACOUSMATIC COMPOSITIONS (FROM FIXED MEDIA WORKS)…
These are compositions that I have composed and finished entirely in studio, and they do not contain live or performative elements. I might collect environmental sounds for my work from outdoor spaces, but after this action, the basic composition work continues in the studio. When the work is finished, it can be listened from a CD disc or through loudspeakers in an acousmatic concert.
IT IS THE LEAST ‘FLEXIBLE’ CATEGORY, SO FAR.
This is fixed media music, and composed purposefully for loudspeakers and without a performative element, and thus the performance strategy (if we may still call it so) follows the original meaning of the concept of ‘acusmata’.
However, despite of the nonperformative aesthetics of acousmatic music, you
don’t have to stand unemployed by the mixer when playing mixed media works at the concerts, as there is still something you can do live with the material. For instance, you can move the sounds around the concert hall, and there you generate a proper performative aspect.
ANY EXPERIENCE OF THIS KIND THAT YOU COULD TELL ME ABOUT?
Well, a fairly recent one. In November 2008 I was in the Visiones Sonoras festival,
Mexico, where I played my fixed media music (acousmatic music) in a concert. I didn’t create any new (or live electronic) sounds at the performance, as the idea of the concert was to stay in fixed media, so I focused on spatializing my two-channel music live in the concert hall of the Morelia Culture House. I could dispose of an eight-channel sound distribution system surrounding the audience, and I was at the center of
the space with a multi-channel mixer. From there I would let the sounds move around the listeners. I didn’t want to make a too dramatic sound choreography for my music, so I used the idea of terrace dynamics. I simply thought of the eight-channel sound distribution system as six stereo pairs, and altered the dynamics of the music between
these six sound areas in the concert hall. Thus, here and there the listeners would notice these changes, how the gravity of the music moved to another area in the concert space, and the music sounded slightly distant, until it came back and the music sounded full again.
CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE DEGREE OF VARIABILITY IN ACOUSMATIC MUSIC? AFTER ALL, I MIGHT HAVE A SECOND THOUGHT ON ITS RIGIDITY…
You see, in real life the things are not always as simplified as the categories might suggest, so we should not understood these too strictly. Let me tell you about some exceptions in acousmatic music. When I am going to give a concert, I feel the need to do something fresh during the performance, not just play my studio material. So, I
need room for some fresh decisions that I could take at the very moment I am performing. If there is no room for that, I’ll get bored soon. I certainly don’t want to repeat myself or play the same (already composed and finished) material too often for
the public. So, whenever it is possible, I want to continue the creative process on stage too; no matter if I am playing my already finished studio works. I want to do something lively with their sounds.
In late 1990’s and early 2000’s I often played my studio compositions (or “fixed media” works) live, but in the concerts I made alternative versions of them (like in the case of Vroom!!, Deep Blue and the compositions on the “Momentum” album). On the stage I usually had a sound bank of concrete sounds, and I mixed these
sounds live into the already finished compositions. I also used real-time sound processors to modify these works slightly at my concerts. This was my way to perform my studio compositions.
THIS WAY YOU KIND OF KEEP YOUR WORKS FRESH, DON’T YOU?
Yes, and I’ll tell you more: there is another side in my creative work that keeps me in move: I don’t listen to my old works once I have finished them. I am more interested in the future and in taking the next step to the “unheard world”, rather than returning to the old material. When a composition under work is finally ready and I am satisfied with the final result, that’s it: I leave the work behind and start to work on a new one. Sometimes I even start to compose something new when I am still working on the previous composition.
The making of the”Äänen eXtreme” DVD (Transl. eXtreme Sound, 2006) was
actually an exciting project, exactly because I hadn’t heard many of the included pieces for years. When the DVD was ready, this was the first time I could get an overview on my own progress as a composer, starting from my compositions from the early 1990s.
WHAT’S NEXT IN YOUR LIST? MUSIC FOR MEDIA INSTALLATIONS.
This is another case when we don’t often concentrate on the performative aspects of musicianship. And the reason is simple: there is (usually) no human performer in the installation art, as computers, electronics or mechanics do the job.
But then again: what if we looked at the machine and understand it as a music performer, especially if its actions can produce results (musical substances) that are not programmed?
IT’S ONE OF THE HOT TOPICS IN CURRENT MUSICOLOGY: CAN ACTIVE MUSICIANSHIP BE ALSO ARTIFICIAL? HOW DO YOU POSITION YOURSELF IN THIS DISCUSSION?
During Autumn 2008, my music could be heard at Korjaamo Gallery in Helsinki, as I composed music for “Eight Rooms”, an audiovisual installation by visual artists Minna Rainio and Mark Roberts. I composed music for the eight speakers of the
installation, surrounding the listener in a circular shape. There is no human interpreter between the listener and sound source, as the computer takes care on music playing.
The music has eight parts, each part having its own sound subject (sound theme). There is no other sound employed than just one short sound sample for each part, and in each part, the sound is looped and distributed to all eight speakers. Thus, the eight speakers multiply the sound and generates the field of sound. In the eight parts of the “Eight Rooms” the sound subjects are the scratches of locked-grooves
(of old vinyl record), ticking of clock, speech, footsteps, breathing, birds.
Now. When the computer repeats the short, cloned, sound patterns in eight speakers over and over again, and let them gradually go out of sync, these sound transitions (of multiplied sound) create sound illusions in human ear. We start to hear sound patterns and timbres that are not in the original sample. These sound phenomena are generated in the listener’s ears. If the human ear was more selective, we could hear only eight identical samples repeated in eight speakers, but due to our limitations, we hear the total network of the eight identical sounds and the illusions it creates (incidentally, this technique is also known as ‘phase shifting music’. I have composed works of this type regularly over the years. (See Violin Tone Orchestra, 1996, The Words, 1998, and When I Am Laid in Earth, 2002).
I UNDERSTAND YOU ARE HINTING THAT THE MACHINES WERE “COMPOSING” NEW MUSIC…
Exactly. The loudspeaker system of the installation created musical substances that were not actually composed by me. I organized the “installation performance”, created the environment where these sound phenomenons could be born, but I did not compose these miniature level musical phenomena that the loudspeaker system created. Thus, “the music of the loudspeakers” is true in this context as this music could only be performed by the loudspeakers.
I am not saying this brings the discussion to an end, but the question is to be taken seriously: Could we look at an installation from the perspective of performance,
and think at the system as a musician?
IT IS INDEED A SERIOUS QUESTION, AND I’M GLAD WE HAD THE CHANCE TO RAISE IT IN THIS INTERVIEW. BUT NOW, LET US MOVE TO THE LAST CATEGORY OF YOUR CLASSIFICATION: SOUND WALK AND SOUNDSCAPE COMPOSITIONS. ONCE AGAIN, IT LOOKS LIKE THE ‘PERFORMANCE’ ASPECT IS RATHER LIMITED, BUT BY NOW I’M NOT SURE OF ANYTHING ANYMORE…
Indeed… Let me see, now: where is the musical performance in this particular context? One way to answer the question of course depends on how broadly we understand the concept of ‘musical performance’ and how we may accept the idea that the musical performance is happening when the composer is playing the microphone and searching for source material for his/her’s work. The making of sound walk compositions is a musical act, but a special one, as it happens at the beginning of the composition process, long before the composition is ready. In my sound walk works the creation of the work starts from the planning of the recording route, which goes through different acoustic situations and environments. Then, I take my mobile recording equipments, go out, travel the planned route (by walk, train, car or bus) and at the same time I record all the sound actions that happens in the environments during my trip in motion.
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC MODUS OPERANDI (OR WORKING PHILOSOPHY) TO CREATE YOUR SOUND WALKS?
When I start the trip I put the recording on, and I don’t stop it until I have done the whole (planned) route and came to the end stop of the trip. During the sound walks I am not standing still at the street corners and wait until the things happen around me, but, instead, and that is important in sound walks, I am in motion, and I am recording while I am moving.
After the sound walk, I go to studio with my recording, where I listen to, analyze and edit the sound material. I do not use all the material recorded. At the studio I compress the timing of the original recording, shorten it, which also means selecting interesting sections from the recording and using only these in the final piece. I might also process and “alienate” the environmental sounds with computer or add electronic sounds, like in April Fool (1997) before the work is complete.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON THE TYPE OF INTERVENTION?
It really depends on the work itself and its aesthetics. I was mentioning April Fool: there the length of the original sound walk recording was circa 1 hour, but after the editing and the compositional input the final length of the work was 28-29 minutes.
When the editing and composition work of the sound walk is complete, then, finally, the original “performance” (recording trip through different environments) is ready to be performed, in modified and compressed form, in the concert halls or at the radio.
IT IS CERTAINLY A RATHER UNCOMMON METHOD FOR COMPOSING…
I think so. In the sound walk pieces the main focus is in changing sound environments, but the composer’s presence is very clear in the work, as the listener could hear the composer’s moving, walking sounds, or even body sounds (depending on where, and how close to the body, s-/he has carried the microphone). The sound walk composing method offers me an exceptional way to play the common instrument, the microphone, and this technique, recording in motion, is actually quite a new method in the history of electronic music.
SO, WITHIN A SOUND WALK CONTEXT, DO YOU RATE YOURSELF AS A COMPOSER, OR AS AN INTERPRETER?
I feel it is kind of a mixed form of both. As a composer you have a plan and intention to do the sound walk, and when you do this in practice, you are a musician and follow the plan of the work. During the sound walk you carry your instruments, you play your microphone and capture sounds of the environments. With a microphone you have the possibility to affect the balance of the sounds; you can go closer to the particular sound source so that it comes clearer in the recording, or you can stay far from the individual sources if you want to record the acoustics of the spaces. When you go to the studio with your recorded material and start editing it, then you are a composer again, you continue the work and create the final composition.
I WOULD LIKE TO STAY A BIT MORE ON THE CONCEPTS OF SOUND WALKS AND SOUNDSCAPES. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT MURRAY SCHAFER HAD A CERTAIN IMPACT ON YOU. CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU RELATE TO HIS WRITINGS, AND PARTICULARLY TO HOW HE DEFINES THESE TWO CONCEPTS?
Well, it is actually a bit more complicated than that. The discussion in fact involves three, rather than two, similar but not equal composition methods: concrete music, soundscape music and sound walk music. I will try to describe the differences across them, and explain what they have offered to my music.
When I am composing musique concrète, I will record individual sounds, instead of soundscape textures, as a source material for the work. The listener could hear, for example, a sound of a car in the composition. That sound represents the common real world object, *the cars*, but the sound of the car is actually not contextualized in the concrete work, it lacks the connection to the exact time (recording date) and place (recording environment). In concrete work the sound of the car is just a sound of a car, it is sound material that I will modify during the composition work.
YOU MEAN THAT THE RECORDED SOUND IS IN FACT AN ABSTRACT SOUND, IN THIS CASE…
Yes, the recorded sound is abstracted (processed) one way or the other in concrete work, and I might modify the sound so strongly that when listening to the final work, it is sometimes difficult to recognize the origin of the sound. The sound of the car is alienated from the environment and forced under artistic manipulation.
So, in concrete music I might use environmental sounds, and it doesn’t matter where I have recorded the sounds or when I have made the recordings, as the original context of the recorded object is not important in the aesthetics of concrete music. The sound is recorded from the environment but that sound (and its modified forms) in the
final work is missing the direct connection to the real world context and its situations (time, place, actions).
I might even use anonymous archive recordings, and create the work without keeping the information about the origin of the sounds. Actually, Pierre Schaeffer, the father of concrete music, stressed that the connection between the object and its sound should be eliminated in the concrete work. We should listen to the (recorded) sounds as sounds, hear their beauty without thinking about the source of the sound.
AND IS THAT ABSOLUTE ALIENATION TOTALLY POSSIBLE, IN YOUR OPINION?
Well, not really. For various reasons, this is practically speaking impossible, as when we hear the sound of train, the basic sound in Schaeffer’s Étude Aux Chemins De Fer (1948), we’ll immediately think about the train, the object, the source of that recognizable sound.
Anyway, this was Schaeffer’s idea, which was beautiful and radical at the time when the concrete music was born, in late 1940s.
WHAT ARE THE ‘PURE’ CONCRETE WORKS IN YOUR REPERTOIRE?
I did do concrete compositions, like Hysteria (1999), St. Virus City (2000), Navigator (2004) and others, which are based on environmental sounds, but the listener could not hear that and might suppose that these works are electronic music, based on digitally generated sounds. You cannot really tell the origin of this kind of processed sounds, unless I tell you. I was free to decide whether to use electronically generated sounds or not, but in the end I did not, as this was not my intention.
WHAT WAS THE ATTRACTING FEATURE IN CONCRETE MUSIC FOR YOU?
The reason why I have used the concrete sounds in these works is the colour of the processed environmental sounds and the process behind the work. I like what I can do for the environmental sounds with my computer: cut the recording in pieces and process it sometimes so heavily that the origin of the sound has disappeared.
Yet, after all the processing phases, the colour of these sounds has still qualities that comes from the original source. This source sound (behind the work) could unify the sound material and connect all the sounds used in the composition. Just one short sound source (sample) could give a life for a whole work.
Sometimes it is just nice to try how far you can go with your sound material, use a common (easily identifiable) sound source and try what you can do to it with a computer. In the world of computer music you have unlimited amount of possibilities from where to choose, but I believe in what Igor Stravinsky once stated. I don’t remember the exact phrase, but the idea was: If you have all kind of musical possibilities in front of you, the composition work just doesn’t get started, but if you limit the possibilities, the restrictions opens the doors for creativity.
HOW DO WE GO FROM CONCRETE MUSIC TO SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC?
The difference between concrete music and soundscape music already begins before the composition work, it starts from the recording strategy and microphone technique. For concrete music, I record independent sounds, and I do this with a microphone that allow me to make closely miked recordings: I go near the sound source with the microphone. The reason for this is that I want to take that sound out from the environment, and eliminate the surrounding sounds out from the recording. My interest then lies only on that particular sound phenomenon, and I want to record it clearly, without additional (in fact “disturbing”, from the concrete music point of view) sound elements.
SO, THE DIFFERENCE IS ALSO “TECHNOLOGICAL”…
Yes. When I am making recordings for a soundscape work, I will choose a different microphone than the one used in concrete composition. I will take a microphone that will capture the whole sound environment around me, all the sound elements that happens at the moment in that particular space where I am recording. It could be outdoor space, like forest, seaside, field, street, or indoor space, like a factory, a cathedral, a concert hall, a ship, a room… anything, really.
Or: the recording could have been realized in a less ordinary place, like an underwater environment, or the sounds could have been recorded from 100 kilometres high from the sky, like when recording the soundscapes of Aurora Borealis. In all these cases of soundscape recordings, the point is to capture sound textures, multiple sounds at once, not the individual sounds (what was typical for concrete music).
TO KEEP UP WITH THE METAPHOR, WE ARE NOW MOVING FROM AN ABSTRACT OBJECT TO A REALISTIC (OR REAL) PANORAMIC VIEW.
When we discuss on soundscape, we mean all the sound phenomena that exist in the environment. So, if we concentrate on the soundscape of some particular space, it is not a question about specific sounds (like a passing car), but the texture of sounds – their totality – and the relation between them. Acoustic Ecologists have brought some interesting questions on the problems of sound environment, and this area could be approached from many directions (science, art…). Of course, the reference to Murray Schafer’s writings, like his classic The Tuning of the World (1977), is here more than obvious.
I AM VERY INTERESTED IN THIS IDEA OF THE “RELATION” OF SOUNDS, THAT YOU MENTIONED. “RELATION” SEEMS REALLY TO BE THE KEY-WORD, WHEN IT COMES TO SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC.
In a city soundscape recording you do not only hear a car, but other noises as well, like people talking, passing motorcycles, sounds of car brakes, sound horns… some sounds comes from near, others from far. The origin of some common sounds could be identified easily, but often some city sounds are impossible to identify. However, despite the missing source information on some sound particles in the recording, we are still able to say that this recording represents the sound world of that environment.
WHAT IS YOUR SPECIFIC APPROACH TO SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC?
When I am doing soundscape recordings, I also make notes on the environment and its sounds; I notice the actions around me, analyze the possible sound sources, write about extraordinary actions, and comment on the balance between natural and artificial sounds. If the environment is familiar to me, I might also write down my past experiences, and state how this recording was different in comparison to the recording of some past occasion. The sound information that I get by my own ear is valuable, as sometimes it is hard to tell from the plain recording what is actually happening in the environment.
Sometimes the balance is different on recording, than what you have heard in location. A microphone is an electromechanical instrument, and it does not work like human ear. Microphones always colour the recording. To me, it is important that I write down all the information on the recording, including notes on the exact location, date and time of the recording, and offer this information to the listeners. If possible, I also take photographs, which will tell a lot about the recording place.
TO ENGAGE INTO SEMIOTIC TALKING, ONE CAN SAY THAT THE COMMUNICATIVE FUNCTION OF SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC IS GENUINELY REFERENTIAL.
Theoretician and composer Barry Truax has stated that soundscape music is the first music style where the sound material of the music work refers, concretely, outside of the context of the music work – meaning how the sounds of the music work has direct connection to the environment, to that context where they are taken from.
So, from the point of view of compositional methods, there are clear differences in working methods between concrete music and soundscape music. In concrete music I connect independent sounds together, but in soundscape music I connect sound textures together. In concrete music the composer eliminates the original context of the sound out from the composition, but in soundscape music the composer refers directly to the outside world of music, to the real world situations, and s/he does not process sounds heavily. In sum, we may say that the aesthetics of soundscape music lies in the area between music and sound documentary, as the soundscape work tells us something truthful from the environment. But of course we should remember the active role of the composer and note how the recording is colored by the composer’s aims and attitudes toward the environment. There is no pure and objective way to capture soundscapes.
FROM SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC TO SOUND WALKS, NOW, THE ROAD SEEMS TO BE SHORTER THAN TO CONCRETE MUSIC.
Yes, you could say so. When I am doing Sound Walk recordings, the method is very similar with soundscape recordings. The most important feature in the Sound Walk method is that the soundscape recording is made in move (“walking”). For the Sound Walk recording I select a microphone that works great for environmental (ambience) recordings, and it is important that this microphone is also easy to carry. When I am walking with the microphone I capture all the sound actions that happen around me. I have often used ear-microphones, as they are easy to carry, the sound is great, and people do not notice that I am recording. Sometimes, when using a traditional microphone, it could be annoying when people turns away or stop talking in front of you when they notice that you’re recording.
But with ear-microphone people think that you are just listening to music, and act normally. So they do not interrupt their talk, and they continue behaving naturally.
With “invisible technology” it is easier to capture the real life situations, as you don’t then manipulate the recording moment, and actions of the people, with your technological tools.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE YOUR MOVEMENTS?
I move through different spaces and situations and I play the microphone. By changing the directions of microphone I could decide about the sound balance in my recording: I could turn towards a crowd and record the sounds of people, or I could turn towards noisy traffic and record the traffic noises for awhile. Sometimes the listener could even hear the sounds of my footsteps, which could be effective character in the work. This very basic sound, footsteps, could tell the listener about changing environments and give a hint about whether I am walking at streets, underground tunnels, stairs, sand (in the seashore), asphalt… or is the weather rainy or snowy. The sound of footsteps could tell you a many stories.
TO USE A RECURRENT WORD IN THIS BOOK, SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC IS AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN GET TO AN IDEA OF “AUTHENTICITY”…
I have often compared the method of Sound Walk music to the filming method of Cinéma vérité. In Cinéma vérité the film-maker takes his/her camera, goes out, and just captures the actions around her/him on film. The film-maker might shoot in the streets, at the seaside, in concert, or in front of a factory or train station (like in the early Lumière’s movies). When the director has enough material, s/he goes to the editing room and starts the cutting work. After this phase, the film is ready. The process is simple, there is no need to hire actors, or perhaps there is not even a manuscript behind the film, if it is not necessary. The fascination in this method is
in the fact that you don’t know what is coming up next in real life, you can’t write down the actions of the real world situations. Reality just works the way it works, and opens up to unpredictable actions. You just capture the samples of reality, and create an art work from your material.