Alan Boldon

Petri Kuljuntausta: To Alan Boldon

Apr 19, 2008

As I shortly mentioned, I am specialized on soundscape composition. I have made soundscape compositions on urban and nature environments — and on the sound recordings of the Northern Lights. The Aurora works are the first of its kind, as the original Aurora recordings that I used in my works were really the first acoustic recordings of the phenomena. Some other scientists has marketed their recordings as “Aurora sounds”, but this is false information as those are actually not the “sound recordings”, but instead a files converted from geomagnetic data which are not acoustical sound waves.
My Aurora works ‘Aurora Borealis I’ and ‘Northern Lights Live’ were collaborative works with a professor from Helsinki University of Technology. The microphone that was used in the recordings was really sensitive and built for scientific use. It captured the sounds from the distance of over 100 kilometres, the Aurora sounds happened so far in the sky. The price of this microphone was 10.000 euros, so it would have been impossible to get this opportunity to make an Aurora soundscape composition without the collaboration with the University. I performed the ‘Aurora Borealis I’ first time at Tampere Biennale festival and ‘Northern Lights Live’ at ISEA2004 festival.
I have also composed music for underwater environments (swimming pool, sea-shore), the experience of the underwater sounds is tactical, as the listeners sense the sounds through their body and bones (the ear doesn’t work in water). Few years ago an underwater concert was arranged in Sweden where my music was played, now I have my own equipments for the pool concerts.
Since 1990s I have also composed music from the animal sounds. In June 2008 will be released two new CDs, the first one is a collaboration with Italian zoomusicologist Dario Martinelli. This album (‘Zoosphere. A Musical Encryptation Of Animal Sounds’) is based only on the animal sound recordings. The next CD is a trio album of 3Corners of the World group, where I play with David Rothenberg and Robert Jürjendal. The album is based on live concert recordings. In this trio I sample the musicians (guitarist and clarinetist) live, recycle their playing and communicate with them with the sounds. Environmental recordings has important role in this context too. I have played with David since 1998, if I remember correctly…
For the gallery and museum environments I have created media installations. In these works I have, for example, transformed the energy of light beam into soundwaves (‘Wave Motion’). And in ‘Patterns and Waves’ I used low-frequency sounds to move material, water, and this phenomena (movement in the water) was also used to create light patterns on the gallery wall with the help of laser beams (I created these works in collaboration with Sami van Ingen).
I have also composed a sound work intended to be performed on the soil of Saturnus’ moon Titan. In 1997 the European Space Agency’s Cassini / Huygens probe started its travel to Titan and landed its ground in 2005, after eight years of travel through the Space. Inside the Huygens probe travelled my sound work ‘Charm of Sound’. It is not sure what has happened to the probe, but at least we know that it still worked on the ground of Titan when it landed. Perhaps someone (or something?) in the future will find my work inside the probe and will perform the work by following my text descriptions which are captured on CD-rom inside the Huygens.
Besides composing and performing live, I occasionally give courses on soundscape music, environmental art, history of electronic music and aesthetic of sound in art universities and art schools. I am also a founding member and board member in the national association entitled Finnish Society for Acoustic Ecology. In 1995 I founded an association entitled Charm of Sound to promote electronic music & sound art in Finland. We organize concerts, publish releases and produce radio programs.
In 2002 Like publishing company and Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, published together my book on early history of Finnish electronic music entitled ‘On/Off’. There was 800 pages in the book, and the focus was on the years 1958-1963. It is the first book about the history of early Finnish electronic music. The link to the early years of this tradition was almost lost, so it was great to have this opportunity to make that book and especially research the archives of Yleisradio (Finnish National Broadcasting company) and interview the composers and study their personal collections.
In 2006 Like published my second book entitled ‘Äänen eXtreme’ (Engl. eXtreme Sound). The book is about experimental music and sound art of our time and it is divided into two equal parts, which are: 1) presentation on the threads of the present day music and sound art, 2) presentation on my own artistic activity, including detailed background documentation of my works. As a part of the ‘Äänen eXtreme’ book was published a DVD, which included my compositions from the years 1994-2005 — in total circa 9 hours of compositions and sound works. My next book is almost ready. The title is ‘The First Wave. A Microhistory of Early Finnish Electronic Music’ and that will be out around late-summer or fall 2008.
In June 2008 will be arranged the first Nightingala festival, which I have organized together w/ David Rothenberg and Dario Martinelli. At Nightingala the researchers gather together to talk about their latest foundings on nightingale song research. And in the evening program the artists perform music and sound works based on the sounds and songs of the nightingale.