THE BELLOWS (5.1) – Composition



The focus of this composition is to produce a work in 5.1 surround sound. All sounds were pre-recorded with a Rode K2 and the sound library consists entirely of sounds produced on an accordion. For this particular composition, I composed a large sample library of sounds including percussive hits and the sound of the leather strap adjusting into position. In contrast to these very gestural sounds sampled with Logic Pro’s exs24 sampler, I have worked with using granular synthesis to produces lengthy textures and drones, to imply the underlying harmony. In the words of Curtis Roads, “Granular synthesis adds a set of distinct and interesting colors and textures to the palette of sounds made available by digital technology.” Other sounds recorded include extended technique for accordion, such as often producing unintentional whimpering sounds made by gentle pressure on the valves.

According to Alistair MacDonald, “When we listen to sounds over loudspeakers, we are dealing with illusion. The illusion may be of something real, surreal or abstract. It may simply be the illusion of stereo – that a sound seems to emanate from somewhere in between the positions of the loudspeakers over which it is, in fact, being played.” This illusion of space, and in particular sound source is what I wish to achieve in this composition. Therefore, much of this composition should not (sonically) sound as if it was produced on an accordion. This should also be the case for spatial elements of the music, as my intent is to create an ‘unnatural’ sounding environment or soundscape.

My main reason for choosing the accordion as the sound source was due to its extensive range of sonic capabilities. Other than it’s obvious uses, these included cluster chords, bellows shake, Ricochet, and vibrato. The more unusual ‘noise’ sounds that were produced included, air-noise, button-noise, register-noise and percussive hits on the body of the instrument.

My main sources of inspiration for this piece were the works of Pauline Oliveros. Her composition, ‘Accordion’ (1966) utilized tape-delay technology, and a demonstration of extended technique on the instrument. My composition is intended to be a development or evolution of this piece in 5.1-surround sound.

(presented as interleaved 5.1 file in soundcloud)

Speakers in the City University studios are:
1 L
2 R
3 LS
4 RS
5 C