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WATER SOUNDSCAPE COMPOSITION CONTEST

 

UPDATED 19th September: The Jury has selected the winners of the competition and the audience vote has ended. The results will be revealed today at the EAH seminar at Tampere (Werstas auditorium), 5 pm (+3GMT) and posted to this website (front page>news>composition winners).

 

UPDATED 3rd September: The Preliminary Jury has selected the compositions to present to the Final Jury

Out of the 52 compositions received the Preliminary Jury selected ten compositions that best reflected the given theme of water invoking different listenings of soundscapes in Europe. The compositions were evaluated anonymously but with the description of the composition attached. The quality of the received works and varieties of foci were a pleasant surprise to the Preliminary Jury who would like to thank all the participants for making the contest possible.

The works presented to the Final Jury are (in random order):

  • Clay Gold: A Furious Devout Drench 5’21” 

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  • Edu Comelles: Sínia 9’54” 

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  • Jono Gilmurray: Badock’s Wood II – The River Trym 5’40” 

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  • Minna Hagman: Kylpy / Bath 5’50” 

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  • Craig Burgess: Etude Drop (Liquid) Collisions 4’10” 

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  • Becky Grajeda & Charlie Schneider: Pedal-boat in Prague 6’25” 

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  • James Andean: Radiate 9’59” 

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  • Alejandro Montes de Oca: Underwater soundscape II (Ruissalo) 8’06” 

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  • Rutger Zuydervelt: The Breaking Water 9’57” 

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  • Jukka Lappalainen: Processed Water 8’00” 

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For the audience voting form click here (one vote/person please), online until Tuesday 18th September, 12:00 pm (+2 GMT).

The descriptions of the compositions and composer bios are below.

 

Clay Gold: A Furious Devout Drench

Bio: Clay Gold is a British sound recording artist living in Canterbury, UK. In March 2011 his 5.1 surround sound piece ‘Airtight Orange Plastic Coffin’ – a filmless Horror soundtrack – was presented in a completely dark cinema environment at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City as part of ‘UNSOUND’, a festival of experimental music and sound art. Clay Gold’s recorded, performance and installation work considers the collection, processing, application, destruction and preservation of information, within and without the constraints of the human mind. His live and recorded output incorporates extensive location and nature recording, creative use of Foley and sound effects, and subtle instrumentation, which are part of an exploration into actively collected, suppressed and promoted opinion; or censorship and propaganda.

Description of composition: Water is the great eroding force of nature, defining not only the shape of countries, but also the societies which have settled in their most fertile regions and around their sculptured riverbanks and coastlines. Water is the genesis of life and threatens to be its nemesis, as polar caps melt, oceans rise, islands vanish and continents shrink. As with an ice age, water again offers encouragement to evolution. ‘A Furious Devout Drench’ takes inspiration and its title from a line in the poem ‘Water’ by Philip Larkin and uses field recordings from across Europe and ethereal piano to compose a soundscape evoking movement and erosion. Beginning in an English garden in December, the piano takes its rhythm from rain falling on canvas before civilisation brings drainage and irrigation systems, in an attempt at harnessing the flow of nature. Thunder, people playing in puddles; a quiet day in Venice. Spent ocean waves drag back across pebbles, recorded from below the surface, before the “furious devout drench” of a waterfall in Zurich washes us away with its wall of white noise descending. Cleansed, we are left with the last few drops of rain on dry leaves, blending with the sound of melting ice in south Moscow during the Spring; the mud, the debris and the new green growth appearing from beneath. The last icicle drops onto a wooden roof below and shatters.

 

Edu Comelles: Sínia

Bio: Lives and works in Valencia, Spain. Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona. MSc in Sound Design (Edinburgh University) MA in Visual Arts and Multimedia from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Edu Comelles worked since 2006 in sound composition. His works have been published by several netlabels, such as Resting Bell (Berlin), Test Tube (Portugal), Impulsive Habitat (Portugal) or Audiotalaia (Spain). He has been on festivals in Stockholm, Vienna, Madrid, Mexico, Edinburgh, Valencia and Barcelona, presenting its solo project or with cellist Sara Galán on Cello + Laptop project. He is currently involved in several individual and collective projects involving soundscape composition. He is also the curator of Audiotalaia a platform dedicated to publish and promote experimental music and sound art from all over the world. With Juanjo Palacios co-directs LEA Editions a label focusing on spanish field recordings. In Valencia he runs an ongoing series of concerts held on various art spaces of the city trying to bring together a small but very prolific experimental music scene. Comelles is also part of LOM an electroacoustic music ensemble formed by seven valencian musicians.
Description of composition: Sínia or Sènia, in catalan, is the given name for a noria, a wheel-like machine used for lifting water into a small aqueduct or for the purpose of irrigation. It consist on a vertical iron wheel with a chain of buckets attached to it. Norias used to be driven by animals, turning another wheel to make the vertical one to spin, and therefore lifting the water. On the outskirts of Torredembarra (Tarragona) there is a substantial concentration of those water machines, probably due to a underground aquifer that supplied water for the agriculture fields around. Those machines that were used on the past, now a days are out of order and even abandoned, allowing the iron to rust as time goes by. The local government has put some effort on keeping it or even restoring it, still those water constructions are just a witness of local agriculture now gone. A sound that used to shape countryside water soundscape in the Tarragona region is now gone after years of implementing big and ambitious hydraulic plans bringing water from hundreds of miles away. This piece is based on the idea of making the rusted iron wheel to work again. The piece is a recording of a sound improvisation performed spinning the wheel. The outcome is a sound piece that evokes the long gone sound of the noria by using it again, without water and without animal traction, anything but an aesthetic exercise as purpose.

 

Jono Gilmurray: Badock’s Wood II – The River Trym

Bio: Born 11th January 1981. An electroacoustic composer, currently studying MMus Creative Sound and Media Technology at Bath Spa University. My compositional work stems from my belief in the potential of soundscape composition to inspire a vital reconnection between human beings and the ecosystem on which we all depend, and of which we are all an integral part.

Description of composition: This piece uses as its source material close-miked recordings of the River Trym as it flows through Badock’s Wood, a small area of 400-year-old woodland in the city of Bristol, England. Only 4.5 miles long, the River Trym gets its name from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “firm” or “strong one”; however, in recent years its flow has been significantly weakened due to large quantities of silt being sent into its system by a large shopping centre nearby. Nevertheless, it remains one of the key soundmarks within this small patch of ancient woodland, its gentle babbling serving to calm the mind and soothe the soul. Over the course of the piece, the sound of the river undergoes various electroacoustic manipulations: it is slowed down and filtered, individual ‘plops’ are isolated and their natural fundamentals emphasised, and short, naturally-occurring rhythmic phrases are looped, all with the object of teasing out and highlighting the river’s natural harmonic and rhythmic characteristics. The piece thus aims to encourage and assist the listener in coming to a heightened musical appreciation of the sound of the river. Additionally, in the second half of the piece, the river sounds are combined with a sung vocal part, constructed from isolated words chosen for their ‘watery’ characteristics; this reflects the way in which the sound of the river may be heard as made up from lots of individual plopping and bubbling sounds. The harmonic and rhythmic interplay between the vocal and the river sounds aims to articulate the potential for a fundamental reconnection between human and environment through a common musical language.

 

Minna Hagman: Kylpy / Bath

Bio: Minna Hagman has been working as a sound and video artist since the year 2005. Her works have been shown in several solo and group exhibitions, screenings and happenings in Finland, Denmark and Germany. Before starting to make sound and video art she had studied architecture and music and during her studies she got interested in the soundscape studies and started to think about the connection between sounds and architecture. This connection she has been exploring in her recent sound works.

Description of composition: The first inspiration for this work were the sounds of water drops dropping to the washbasin in an empty house. Every drop made a unique sound with its own pitch and this already sounded like a simple music. The second starting point of this work is the description of the city of Armilla in Italo Calvino’s novel “The Invisible Cities”. There are only water pipes left in this city, no floors, no walls, no ceilings. The pipes end in taps, showers, spouts, basins and bathtubs that are hanging like fruits from the boughs. The only inhabitants of the city are the nymphs that are bathing in the water which is running from the pipes. Sometimes you can hear them singing.

 

Craig Burgess: Etude Drop (Liquid) Collisions

Bio: Craig Burgess is an electroacoustic composer, sound designer, lecturer & audio engineer based in Manchester, England combining found sound, musical textures & aural stimuli to create engaging compositions & innovative sound design pieces. Craig likes to experiment with recorded audio material of various form and composite to explore the creative possibilities of sound & compositional techniques & strategies. Capturing material of varied source from field recordings to found sound & controlled environments, Craig likes to combine source audio material with processed, transformed, manipulated, synthesised, effected & diffused outputs to research potential creative ideas & concepts. He is currently studying for an MMus in Electroacoustic Music Composition at the University of Manchester under the guidance of Doctor Ricardo Climent and Professor David Berezan. Presently Craig is playing & experimenting with MaxMSP, field recordings, graphical scores, sound object transformation, Pro Tools, speakers, microphone techniques, SPEAR, the concept of spectromorphology, a guitar effects pedal, Ambisonics and some MIDI controllers.

Description of composition: Etude Drop (Liquid) Collisions was composed as a study and exploration of captured water/water droplet audio compositional content. The aim was to create transformed material that could be layered and combined for compositional purposes, enabling interesting arrangements, relationships and structures to develop and form both through and within the source material. The Etude Drop (Liquid) Collisions piece is inspired by the theme of time and in particular Simon Emmerson’s concept of the changing now. An important aspect of the piece is how this relationship influences, as Emmerson states, “the listening experience through our apprehension of the present and its apparent trajectory within an immediately perceived environment. What happened an instant ago may influence what I am hearing now.” Within the structure and framework of the Etude Drop (Liquid) Collisions piece this concept relates to both the way water droplets interact with various masses of water and also how the material interacts and the relationships therein form. A study and exploration of captured water/water droplet collisional content to create transformational material for compositional purposes.

 

Becky Grajeda & Charlie Schneider: Pedal-boat in Prague

Bio: Becky Grajeda is a sound artist based in Chicago. Grajeda is interested in field recording, sound assemblage and multi-channel installation; of particular interest are the sounds of machinations, moving bodies, and vocal inflection and intonation in speech. Charlie Schneider is a California-based interdisciplinary artist interested in ideas of impermanence and change, and of human relationships to people in place. Within this context, he is particularly interested in water as subject, material, and metaphor.
Description of composition:  As the Vltava River pushes, shivers, eddies, and inexorably makes it’s way through the ancient city of Prague, it embodies nothing less than the deep sense of space and time that the city has simultaneously inhabited and shaped over the centuries. The river’s appeal is perhaps most apparent in the summer, when locals and tourists alike are drawn to its banks to drink and socialize with family, friends, and lovers as afternoons ebb into evenings and the heat is dissipated by proximity with the water: the Vltava is the lifeblood of the city. Recorded near the pylons of the Most Ligii, “Pedal-boat in Prague” aims to capture the ever-present but ephemeral human rhythms, represented by the varied and overlapping cadences of the pedal-boat, that interact and surround the Vltava. “Pedal-boat in Prague” is two-channel field recording-based composition. The structure is two-point musical counterpoint. The material in the right channel is a duplicate of that in the left channel (the right enters at 00:01:19) delayed by four seconds. At times the audio in the right channel raises in amplitude, and when combined with the repetitive rhythm of the pedals moving through the water captured in the recording, the right channel seems to be ahead of the left. The contrapuntal structure and interplay of the audio channels between left and right reflect and accentuate the bipedal action and effort which powered the boat.

James Andean: Radiate

Bio: James Andean is a musician and sound artist. He is active as both a performer and a composer in a range of fields, including electroacoustic composition and performance, improvisation, sound installation, and sound recording. He is a founding member of improvisation and new music quartet Rank Ensemble, and one half of audiovisual performance art duo Plucié/DesAndes. He has performed throughout Europe and North America, and his works have been performed across Europe, North America and Asia. He is currently completing a doctorate in acousmatic composition at the Centre for Music & Technology of the Sibelius Academy, in Helsinki, Finland.

Description of composition: Radiate offers a unique soundscape experience, taking a single watery sound source and placing it under a microscope, exploring it from the inside out. The work is composed from a single recording of water flowing through a leaky radiator. The original material is stripped down to only a few bare partials, forming a kind of strange melody, which builds towards a counterpoint of increasing complexity as more and more partials are added back, eventually building back up towards the original soundworld of the radiator. Thus, while technically the piece works by adding layers back to a sound stripped bare, the listener experiences the work as veils slowly being pulled aside, finally revealing the source of the sound that we have been listening to all along..

 

Alejandro Montes de Oca: Underwater soundscape II (Ruissalo)

Bio: Alejandro Montes de Oca (1980, Mexico City) is a composer, performer and sound artist. Inspired by the physical materiality of sound, our contemporary soundscape and different time perceptions, he focuses on organizing sounds in space and time with the use of self-made electroacoustic instruments and applications. Alejandro received a bachelor’s degree in guitar performance from the Superior School of Music, Mexico City, and a master’s degree in electroacoustic composition from the Royal School of Music in Stockholm. He studied computer music and media electronics in Vienna, and followed the ECMCT (European Course for Musical Composition with Technologies) Helsinki-Barcelona program, organized by the IRCAM. He has received commissions from the “Instrumenta Festival” (Mexico), IMEB (France), CDMC (Spain), ICST (Switzerland) and the Sonic Seascape Terraces project presented at “Turku 2011, European Capital of Culture”, as well as scholarships from the UNESCO-Aschberg, FONCA, the Cultural Minister of Spain and the Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM). He was awarded the 10th Electroacoustic Composition Competition Musica Viva prize and the Franz Liszt Stipendium 2011 prize. His music has been released on various compilations and has been presented in different festivals and concerts in Europe and America.

Description of composition: Underwater Soundscape II (Ruissalo) is an extract from a real time soundscape composition commissioned for the site-specific installation of Ruissalo Park (Turku, Finland) for the “Sonic Seascape Terraces” (project of Hanna Haaslahti and Marianne Decoster-Taivalkoski for “Turku 2011, European Capital of Culture”, Finland. Premiered on May 29th, Turku, Finland 2011). This soundscape composition is a counterpoint that interlace in space and time and that is conformed by natural soundscapes, human influenced soundscapes and abstract soundscapes that born from the transfiguration of the first two. The aim was that one can hear the real-time underwater soundscape of the seascape visible from a specific view-point. The view over the seascape is framed from the terrace to the place where a number of hydrophones are located, so that a viewer/listener standing at the terrace can link the seascape and the soundscape to each other. The task as composer was to emphasize the particularity of the underwater soundscape of the area. To do so, strategies such as selecting the material through the choice of precise points of hearing that provides particular information of the place has been used. The sounds used in this specific composition came from two harbors, the one in Ruissalo Park captures the boats passing by and one in the other side of Ruissalo Park (Pikisaari sailing club) captures the activity around the sailing club. To compose this work it has been used different electroacoustic techniques to reinforce certain acoustic qualities of the material to reveal its originality. The soundscape has be transformed and spatialized in real time through an application, developed by the composer, call Sonic Scape Tools (SST*). Soundscape studies and acoustic ecology form the scientific background of this creative work. Acoustic ecology is a rather new field of research dedicated to the study of the sound-based social interactions of living organisms. The canadien composer and researcher R. Murray Schafer created the term soundscape in the 1960’s in parallel to the term landscape. Soundscape refers to an acoustic environment in which listeners are immersed, including natural acoustic elements as well as those caused by human activities in a specific place of the landscape.*Max/msp application that analyzes, processes and mixes sound signals in real-time to create a live soundscape composition. Designed, developed and produced in collaboration with the Centre for Music and Technology at the Sibelius Academy.

Rutger Zuydervelt: The Breaking Water

Bio: Rutger Zuydervelt was born on 28 July 1978 in Apeldoorn (The Netherlands), but now resides in Rotterdam. He started working as Machinefabriek in 2004. Except for a few piano and guitar lessons when he was young, Rutger didn’t study music. Instead, he graduated as a graphic designer. The sleeves of his releases are practically always designer by Rutger himself, being a crucial part of the music. Machinefabriek’s music combines elements of ambient, modern classical, minimalism, drone and field recordings. His pieces unfold as ‘films without image’, with a sharp ear for detail. After releasing a series of self released CD-Rs, the official debut, ‘Marijn’, was issued by Lampse in 2006. Since then a solid stream of singles and albums was released on labels like Type, Home Normal, 12K, Dekorder, Digitalis, Experimedia and Staalplaat. Rutger collaborated (on record and/or live) with numerous artists, such as Ralph Steinbrüchel, Jaap Blonk, Aaron Martin, Peter Broderick, Frans de Waard, Wouter van Veldhoven, Simon Nabatov, Xela, Simon Scott, Steve Roden, Gareth Davis and Tim Caitlin amongst others. Rutger also works with various visual artists. He scored music for dance pieces, films, video installations and sculptures. He made installations for Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and NAi (Netherlands Architecture Institute).

Description of composition: This piece can be seen as an audio portrait of Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridges, which spans over the river Nieuwe Maas. All sounds are derived from recordings on the bridges and in the water, using regular microphones, contact mics and hydraphones. Although abstract, this piece can be heard as a (somewhat dramatic) audio story, juxtaposing elemens of the calm river with the busy traffic and enourmous ships that pass the bridge, on their way to Europe’s biggest harbour.

 

Jukka Lappalainen: Processed Water

Bio: Last 20 years I have worked in the Oulu City Theatre as an sound engineer and sound designer.

Description of composition: Where it comes, – where it goes, the water of my home. Clean water is a big thing all over the world. My composition tells about water purification process.

 

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EAH Water Soundscape Composition Contest invites composers and sound artists to submit soundscape compositions up to a maximum of 10 minutes to be included in the touring European Acoustic Heritage exhibition and accompanying multimedia book. Entries are open to professional or amateur composers/sound artists until 13 August 2012.

The contest is organized as a part of European Acoustic Heritage project. The project is aimed at discovering and enhancing the soundscapes in Europe, the different soundings and listenings that make up the real and imaginary world and the personality of places and environments contributing to sonic cultural heritage. Ten compositions will be chosen for the final round and the winning three and the winner of the audience vote will be installed and played at the EAH travelling exhibition starting from Galleria Nottbeck in Tampere, Finland and proceeding to France, Belgium and finally Spain during 2012-2013.

The theme of the contest is water. Historically civilizations were built close to water and water sounds defined acoustic communities, as pointed out in the first large scale study on European soundscapes (Five Village Soundscapes 1977/2009). Along the themed Water Sound Map of the project the competitors are encouraged to reflect on soundscapes involving water in Europe. It can be audible in which ever form, as rain, river, fountains, harbours. As ice, freezing or melting or as steam. Or as sewers, a cup of tea or a swimming pool, ect. The composers are encouraged to share their sonic knowledge of cultures and contexts of water and imagine acoustic heritage in Europe invoking different listenings of soundscapes.

Schedule

  • Works received at the latest by 13 August 2012 will be accepted in the competition.
  • The finalists (10 in total) will be announced by 3 September.
  • Final works will be streamed online for audience voting during 3 – 18 September.
  • Winning works will be announced on the opening ceremony of the exhibiton on 19 September after which they will be installed and audible in the Tampere exhibition from 19 to 27 September.

Selection process

The works will be assessed in two stages. In the Preliminary Round, all entries will be screened by the Preliminary Jury, which will make a proposal of the finalists for the Final Jury. Works are evaluated anonymously in this stage. Finalist works will be publicized (with composer biographies and descriptions of the compositions). In the Final Round, the Final Jury alone will assess the works.

Preliminary Jury:

  • Meri Kytö (head of the Preliminary Jury), soundscape researcher, ethnomusicologist, University of Eastern Finland
  • Ari Koivumäki, senior lecturer in sound, TAMK University of Applied Sciences
  • Heikki Uimonen, researcher, adjunct professor of acoustic communication, University of Tampere
  • Juhana Venäläinen, researcher in sociology of art, University of Eastern Finland
  • Susanna Ihanus (non-voting secretary of the Preliminary Jury), contest coordinator

Final Jury:

  • Andra McCartney (head of the Final Jury), soundwalk artist and researcher, associate professor in Sound in Media, Concordia University
  • Simo Alitalo, sound artist and researcher, Turku
  • Petri Kuljuntausta, composer, performer and sound artist, Helsinki
  • Nicolas Remy, acoustician, researcher at Cresson, Grenoble School of Architecture
  • Jürgen Schöpf, ethnomusicologist, Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Susanna Ihanus (non-voting secretary of the Final Jury), contest coordinator

Audience voting will be available on-line. The finalist works will be streamed on the internet during 3 – 18 September.

More information

For any questions concerning EAH Water Soundscape Composition Contest, please contact the coordinator: Susanna Ihanus, susanna.ihanus@tamk.fi, tel. +358 50 444 1220.