FOR BEST RESULTS, LISTEN AT MAX VOLUME. (but don’t hurt your ears)
My intention with this piece was loosely to follow in the tradition of maximalist experimental music. In Listening Through the Noise, Joanna Demers outlines how “the use of stasis and noise runs counter to habitual expectations for how elements of musical syntax interact with one another." (2010, 91). My goal was to create noise music which played upon the ideas of affect, natural rhythms, trauma, and soundscapes. The unpredictable screams and drones in the piece represent the dysfunctional human nervous system, always already loud and at the forefront of its bearer's mind, performed through the hardware setup as a sonic translation of embodiment. I hoped to create sound capable of inducing something of a trance state.
Hardware Considerations (see Fig. 1 for setup/wiring diagram)
I chose my hardware for its responsiveness and interactivity. By using the Theremin, supplemented with pedals, as my primary controller and source of modulation, I explored the instrument's relationship with the body and the performative possibilities of play. My body interacts with the Theremin, providing an immediate and unexpected outcome on the sound of the piece. Theremins respond different based on the electromagnetic charge of the room, and thus carry a degree of inherent unpredictability which I found enticing.  The theremin invites spontaneity, dramatic flourishes. It asks that its player be a dance partner as well as a musician. The theremin's ever-present subsonic tone in the recording is a testament to its sensitivity vis-a-vis the environment around it. Like the body, the theremin is perpetually responding to its environment, always feeding back into the atmosphere (so long as it is plugged into speakers). I ran the theremin through a series of 3 Moogerfooger pedals, which I controlled manually during the performance.
In tandem with the Theremin, I ran a mono-out into the Matrixbrute, which I programmed from scratch, such that it generated noise and took the Theremin’s audio as a source as well. I made use of the Matrixbrute’s built-in stereo-delay, which applied to the noise it generated as well as the Theremin’s signal once it had run through the matrix. I also had my expression pedal control LFOs, as well as pitch and delay time, which allowed for the variation in Noise presence/speed throughout the piece.
Last (but not least), I ran PITCH-CV OUT from the Theremin into the Minitaur’s VOLUME-CV IN, such that the minitaur is only audible when I approach the Theremin to actively play. This wiring also allowed the Minitaur to be heard even if the Theremin’s volume-antenna was keeping the latter quiet. I programmed the Minitaur such that it was in drone mode, which means it was always generating a tone, and I decided to make use of a long, slow LFO that makes me feel that Minitaur is taking slow, deep breaths.
Analysis of results + post-processing
In following maximalist tradition, the piece would benefit from (significantly) more runtime, as well as greater subtlety in variation. In my opinion, the speed through which the piece runs its gamut of sounds works against my stated goal. This shortcoming is due in part to my lack of experience with the hardware, which I found quite difficult to control on-the-fly while recording.  I had help from a classmate to monitor levels and operate the recorders. That said, the result is surprising and interesting even if it is not what I originally had in mind.
As stated, all the sounds heard were recorded in realtime, with no loops or overdubs. In order to bring the final audio piece in line with my sonic desires, as well as to fit the piece into the assignment guidelines, I have selected a representative excerpt of my half-hour of raw footage. I believe it is representative of the progression of the piece, as well as sonically interesting overall. I have also mixed volumes, applied eq, and made-use of compression (both self-contained and side-chain) to create a coherent mix without losing the power of the 3 instruments or altering the composition/timing that came to be organically as I played the piece live. See Theremin_Control_Video for the video footage, atop of which I overlaid the recording from the Rolands.
Project Completed at Concordia University's dept. of Communication Studies. Submitted to Dr. Owen Chapman, November 15, 2018
Many thanks to Sue A-C for their aid with recording.
Back to Top