Week 8 (Nov. 6) PROJECT 2





With the ZOOM recorder and Audacity construct two segments of 3 minutes each.

Your chief task will be to use the capacities of sound recording to invert the listener’s semantic/perceptual faculties.

One of your recordings will simulate an unedited capture of a “real”, physical situation, through judicious editing and layering.

The second recording will give the impression of a totally constructed situation, though in reality it is an unedited capture of a “real”, physical situation.

(While making these two recordings, you will take into consideration the fact that even “objective capture” of a physical situation is a construction.)

Questions to ask yourself

Where is the frame? The frame allows for an interrelationship of references, an identification of components. Is the “composition” intended to radiate outwards or is the listener to take the recording as a self-sufficient, internally referential entity?

Frame also implies a level of magnification - i.e. how closely focused in are the recording devices on specific sounds, how wide is the field to be captured?

Frame also implies a beginning, an end, and a duration (middle)

Does the choice of the frame, and the act of framing itself change the perceived material?

Is the recordist capturing an environment in order to capture “reality as it is” (already a slippery concept) or to heighten, highlight, focus in on certain timbral, musical, rhythmic properties which the recordist finds interesting (thereby framing the recording with these elements as centralizing factors)?

What is the relationship between a system of recording / reproduction and the listener’s ability to enter the field after-the-fact?

At what level of “intervention” are the field recordists situated?

Does the artist’s intervention into the field take place during the recording, or after the recording is complete?

Does the recordist assume a static position (stationary mic placement – the environment “does the work”), or move around through a space, experientially? What man-made (and electrically-activated) artifacts emerge from this activation of / intervention within the recorded space?

At what point does “context” begin to recede? – i.e. do the internally relating sound elements (which can be musical, rhythmic) create a intrinsically unified “composition” (an essentially imaginary, abstract soundscape world) which ceases to feed off the contextual/real world situation to create meaning?

The absence of a visual cross-reference makes possible slips away from reality, the creation of folds/dips in time – the presentation of a biased point of view as “reality” becomes that much easier. (Which has something to do with the suspension of disbelief).

What elements can tip you off to the veracity / realism / constructed nature of the field recording?

How does the shifting of a cultural context / frame affect the way we negotiate the realism of field recordings? Have sophisticated (yet gross) Hollywood soundtrack techniques (essentially un-naturalistic) implanted themselves in our minds as real, have they taken the place of real? (Glenn Gould always urged his listeners to find the splices/edits in his recordings – most listeners could not). What does all this have to do with the suspension of disbelief?


1. NOISE / SILENCE listening exercise

Each one of you has been assigned a one-hour (approx.) track or set of tracks to listen to, which will help you meditate on the concepts of NOISE and SILENCE. (Check that you have received the GOOGLE DRIVE folder invitation).

Identify various ways in which noise functions. Is the noise on an acoustical level, or does it pertain to something else? Locate as many meanings of noise within your particular listening assignment. See some possible conceptions of noise below.

Listen to the tracks several times.

Bring to class a list of 3 (or more) perspectives on NOISE and SILENCE, and how they complicate each other.


something which is out-of-place

an inability to accomplish something according to culturally-accepted norms where the non-musical meets up with the anti-musical

the limits of skill drive resourcefulness (of another kind)

is the seeking of ineptitude another form of skill?

trying to fail is not the same as being unable to do something

setting up insurmountable obstacles, performing inefficiency

deliberately making it difficult to make a proper sound

something which was private now made public (the abject?)

an incomprehensible deviation

an excessive situation, a spilling over

a parasite which rides along with the signal

something can be noisy without being loud at all

something which only becomes noisy over time

something which is outside of systems of evaluation

which cannot be immediately read and digested, which sticks in the throat noise is always contextual, relational


Make a 10-minute recording in a space which you consider silent (understanding that silence is not an objective matter).

Listen to that recording.

Note differences. Things noticed in the recording that were not noticed when making it. Things the recording added to the experience. How the recording alters your memory of the event.