Surface Resonance…

Phase 5.2: Research Detail - articulation of building materials

During Phase 5 I explored new materials and miking techniques, to expand the tonal range and complexity I could employ.


Exploring materials

My previous works involved an interaction between one or two different recorded materials (such as windows and sheet metal) plus other ambiences or effects.

In the 'March table project' I focused on new sounds and textures that occupied a higher frequency register. I also used smaller elements and features in addition to the larger vibrating materials. These included wires on metal, thin aluminium, and glasses and bolts on metal and glass.

I applied less hand dampening and releasing than with earlier works, focusing instead on the miking approach.

Movie - Example experiments setting up window resonance and partial dampening

I used very close miking techniques (a few mm away from the surface) to highlight particular buzzes and resonances from the materials that were specific to points on the surface. I also recorded at locations close to the surface where multiple strong vibration points (anti-nodes) could be heard interacting.

To make a more complex work, I made many recordings, with up to 15-20 to draw from for any one passage.

This layering process presented a new challenge. The resonating materials were largely inharmonic, and the structures of their overtones don't follow neat or even structures. Consequently, with layering, it was difficult to find overlaps that married well, particularly when using different types of materials together.

I spent a considerable amount of time eq'ing and applying effects to narrow or strip down to the essence of each sampled sound, to maximise the potential for using sounds alongside each other.

While the end result was over-processed and dense, these steps helped me to understand the nature of vibration sounds and how to best reveal and inter- relate them.

Example of exploring the range of vibrating materials more fully – trying for most discordant, strongly excited sound from smaller section of metal plate, then moving into sound of large, thin resonant metal sheet, and sound of clips from a case. The latter part illustrated the idea of vibration sound on the edge of sensation – underpinning the sound was a deep throbbing sensation from the table. Note that, with the deep sensation the auditory experience was very different, and more ‘subdued’ than the sound file would suggest.

At this time I moved away from making the most discordant sound available and was trying to bring out the smaller items responding to the vibration. In this excerpt I used very close micing of wires on metal, and objects on glass. I aimed to open up and move away from the windows that I had used earlier. The structure of the work had also dramatically changed at this time, as I was guided by the sound, over vibration.

Here I dealt with the challenge of layering various recordings taken from resonating metal plates. I aimed for greater complexity and interaction than in previous works, but having to carve up/filter out sounds substantially has they didn’t have any naturally matching harmonic pattern. This the ‘loudest’ point in the piece at its conclusion - subdued in comparison to the earlier made sound sample above.

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Reference Material

  • recording glass on glass
  • metal with wire rattle
  • close micing on particular spots
  • vibrating wire
  • working with many layers - top tracks for vibration, others from recordings