Other Tiny Magic
February 2017 | Fixed Media, Stereo
Other Tiny Magic is part of a series of artistic collaborations with custom software called Isomer using a process I call spectral deconstruction.
How this process unfolded during the creation of Other Tiny Magic is described below…
Other Tiny Magic started life as a short recording (~3 min) of an actor reciting a dramatic monologue. This particular recording was chosen for its sonic potential (extreme emotional range and spectral variation) and served as an experiment to test if an expressive human voice might translate into a reasonably coherent musical experience.
Instead of relying on analysis and resynthesis techniques to directly transform audio, custom software called Isomer was used to deconstruct source sounds into corresponding models. The software then interpreted the resulting layers of the sound models as musical language and generated output that could be shaped into a complete musical work by the composer.
To help present a familiar musical setting, I separated the material into a solo instrument (marimba) and accompaniment (concrète). I selected several active partial areas within the vocal range to provide material for the solo marimba, while numerous layers of upper partials (sibilance) created trigger points for the concrète sources.
Given the frenetic surface created by the marimba and the heavy presence of concrète sources, it was necessary to separate the sounds into layers using various spatialization techniques.
The marimba tracks were routed to two separate buses: one with a fairly direct signal and one that contributed a dramatic, ghost-like effect through some fancy phase shifting and resonant filtering. The concrète sources were routed through four buses with varying degrees of spatialization.
The resulting effect is that of an otherworldly marimba performance shadowed closely by hundreds of familiar (but out of place) sounds swirling around the listener.