Cities and Memory – Sound Waves project launch (13/07/15)

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Sound Waves project
Cities and Memory launch their Sound Waves project today which runs all week building up to world listening day on Saturday 18th July. The main link for the sound map and playlist is here.
The sound map is live today and all week there will be regular blog posts on individual sounds (usually when people have supplied some notes/background story behind their sound) and with contributions from 38 sound artists worldwide, there’s lots of re-imagined sounds to listen to. Some of these will be selected for the World Listening Day album – a selection of project highlights that flow together as a listening experience for an album too.
And on Saturday Cities and Memory will be launching the recomposed piece ‘Sound Waves’. Constructed entirely from the submitted re-imagined sounds – sometimes whole pieces, sometimes snippets, a coherent 30-minute piece that represents a collective re-imagining of the role water plays in our lives.
I’m a keen contributor to Cities and Memory projects and this one was no exception. I used one of Cities and Memory’s recordings, from Botany Bay, Margate, Kent, UK. There’s something very appealing about the sound of breaking waves and the recording reminded me of the novel ‘The Sea Priestess’ by Dion Fortune.
And that’s how the entry began, the idea to use the recording as the backdrop for a reading from ‘The Sea Priestess’. My first thought was the reading would be more suited to a female voice and Kim (aka Bellyfullofstar on twitter) sprung to mind straightaway because she had been interested in participating but previously hadn’t had time and a collaboration seemed a good way for her to get involved if possible. Kim was very keen on the idea and the song developed from there. Kim had two recordings of rain / storms which fitted perfectly with the theme of ‘The Sea Priestess’.
The background sound comprised of 4 instances of the Botany Bay sample loaded into Polygon by Glitchmachines and processed with varying granulation, filter and modulation effects. One of Kim’s samples was processed in a very similar way with Polygon and also in Subvert by Glitchmachines to create a drone. Kim’s other recording was processed in Convex, also by Glitchmachines.
Kim then improvised a one-take piano piece based on the overtones and also created a reverse track layered on the top. The recorded passage from ‘The Sea Priestess’ was then chopped up in Audacity, stretched and then layered against the clean reading using different delay effects.
The resulting song is called ‘Our Lady is Also the Moon’ after the reading used. It can be found on the soundmap, there are two from the Margate area. I’m really happy with the result and the process went extremely smoothly, especially considering that myself and Kim are on different sides of the Atlantic and use different DAW software. Parts of the song happened by accident, other parts just came together really easily. I’m not sure if that was because of some of the magic that Glitchmachines somehow put into their VSTs or a little help from the Sea Priestess herself.
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