February 17, 2015
Stereo microphone setup, four people in conversation
I originally found it challenging to come up with a way to integrate what we have been learning in the class to something musical. However, I realized one day while sitting in section that some people tend to have very musical voices in regular conversation. I noticed that people have certain rhythm and differences in pitch. I thought it would be interesting to record a conversation and use that recording as a basis for music creation. I was inspired by artists who take a more organic approach to finding music and sound. There can be this mesmerizing quality to “found sounds” in nature or chaotic harmony in everyday life such as a bustling city.
I setup an XY stereo pair of microphones in my living room and invited three other people to join in conversation. I wanted the conversation to be as natural as possible so the recording took place during dinner and went on for about 20 minutes. I wanted the people involved to eventually forget that they were being recorded so that I could capture an uninhibited and flowing conversation. The hope was to capture large variations in pitch and find some kind of rhythm as well. I then took the recording and edited out snippets of the conversation that I found to have the aforementioned characteristics. I processed these snippets through some effects to make the composition interesting and somewhat pleasing to listen to. The main conversation pieces are processed with a vocoder, delay, frequency shift, and reverb. I then recorded the piece again while manipulation some parameters of the effects. This was layered over a vocal phrase that was time stretched and pitch shifted down to create a bass drone.
I originally wanted to have the end product be as natural as possible and only added or finding pitches in each word and syllable spoken. However, I became fascinated by the idea of using the recording as an instrument and playing it, if you will, in relation to the drone and with the help of digital signal processing. The final piece is about four minutes and can be found on Soundcloud by clicking the link below.
– Chad Goss