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Having branched out, I now realise how each medium lends itself to quite specific ways of expression, and they truly are not interchangeable. I decided to continue experimenting with found sounds and the subject matter that came to me was times of change and transition. It has been quite fascinating to see how feel different about this medium - I feel that I can express psychological realities in a way that I can't quite do with other media. Sound has always been quite an emotional affair to me and I have been curious about alternative music all my adult life, so it comes as no surprise that I seem to be more emotionally expressive this way. Perhaps that's just my personal impression based on novelty value, however it has still been quite satisfying to me.
I have realised that I really want to champion a greater attention to emotional intelligence, as I feel it has gotten somewhat lost in this mechanical age. It is easy to forget just how multidimensional we are when we go about our day in a typically mindless way. I know many people find this kind of music very difficult and maybe even pointless, but it does require some attention and mindfulness. It's not supposed to be easy, yet I would hope that when given the appropriate attention it would trigger some sense of recognition and connection with the psyche. It's not meant to be "just entertainment", nor is it meant to be so difficult no one can stand listening to it. Why this music is at the intersection of music and sound art is in my opinion because it has a specific concept and attempts to express ideas in a reasonably complex way. One can argue this line but it's fairly clear to me. This music requires reflection, not just mindless consumption. My mom was quite taken by it, and said it sounded just like me, and that it gave her imagery that she remembers from my visual artwork since time immemorial. This musical pursuit really reflects my life long interest in the deeper layers of our psyche - in fact one of the strands of comparative religion that I was focusing on at University was the psychology of religion. It's all making sense to me now...
I have created two new pieces and decided to pursue this project until I have a complete album. I call this endeavour "Music for Liminal Times". The word liminal is to me an intriguing and beautiful word. I realise not everyone has come across it but hey, then it's about time, eh? Liminal is originally an anthropological term that denotes times of transition and change. It's a time that is out of the ordinary. It can be a rite of passage, it can be times of war, it can be crazy carnival time, it can be times of relocation, or times of inner change. These times are archetypal thresholds, usually marked by disorder and chaos until a new order ensues. All of these situations are interesting from a psychological point of view because they help us evolve, on a personal level as well as on the level of collective consciousness. I find that I am really quite fascinated with the way collective consciousness interacts with the individual consciousness, often in a compelling and quite distressing way. To withstand this influence and retain personal integrity is difficult. However, I believe that awareness of this and how we transit from one stage or level to another is quite important to a more fluid experience of life.
In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold", is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes. /.../ The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established. (From Wikipedia)
The two new pieces are...
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The theme for the first one was suggested by old recordings done on an Edison Sound Cylinder back in 1904. The music sounded quite odd and was fun to work with. The quality of the singing was so terrible at times that it made me think of how desperate people enter singing competitions in order to be famous. Fame is another very futile and transient experience that is surely quite nice while it lasts, but as we all know is also of very relative value and a very exclusive one at that. It has little to do with real (ordinary) life, yet even I secretly dream of it..!
The theme for the other piece was one I already had in mind while I was looking for material, as I mean to make a film with my abstract photography ("Traces"). I have already discussed the possibility of showing this film during a themed exhibition at a nearby gallery ("Maesmawr") next year - the owner is planning to show several films on the theme "Journey". Being in transit - transitioning from a to b - is of course a liminal experience. This time, I was inspired by my own efforts to meditate and thus try and rebalance my self. As most people know, when you do you become mindful of many inner events and psychological issues, and that's what this piece is mainly about. I did find it difficult to make it long enough, without it becoming cliched and boring meditation music. It took me quite a while to figure out how to create harmonious depth to the latter part.
I hope it's not too hard to detect my sense of irony and subtle humour in these pieces. After all, if we take life too seriously we will only become depressed and even suicidal.
The first piece took me only two days to create, but after that I had a lot of flawed waveforms to fix (that's a whole new ball game, phew!). The preparations for the second piece took a couple of days (that is, collecting the sounds of the public domain as my rule of thumb is that it must be free, as difficult as it is to find such sounds), then the actual creation took about three - four days. It means I now have more method and experience than when I did the first pieces, but I'm working with very basic and quite cumbersome free software (Audacity).
The making of this music is a process of complete deconstruction and reconstruction, during which I reimagine classical music of the past - one may in fact question whether classical music exists at all today. To this mix, I various other elements of my own liking.
You might like to see how Max Richter has reimagined Vivaldi, and also a project in which he refers to the past through the spoken word, Memory House.