Task 1. Close Micced Musique Concréte.
Report for Task 1: Musique Concréte
The objective for this task was to use close or contact miccing techniques to explore hidden sounds or sounds not usually heard. The piece uses the sound of a rattling component of an electric heater, a toilet cistern, contact miccing on a guitar string, contact miccing with a microwave fan, a boiling kettle and contact miccing across a speaker cone playing a low-pitched sine tone.
-Adopted Composing Approaches:
For this first task I adopted an approach used by Karlheinz Stockhausen in his 1964 piece Mikrophonie by using the microphone to scrape along the surface of an instrument, i.e. the top E-string of a guitar, making sure that the edge of the microphone head found some of the gaps between each coil which created a pitched, fast iterating scraping sound. I have also used many of the approaches used by Pierre Schaeffer in works such as Etude Noire(1948), heard at 1:14″, of repeating sounds by looping the audio which can heard in my piece at 0:16″. This method was adopted in a more concise way by only looping the sound twice to avoid it being repeated too often in any one instance. My piece also uses pitch changes of sounds by speeding up and slowing down audio, as well as plate reverb, both of which are approaches used by Schaeffer and Pierre Henry in movements such as Prosopopée (plate reverb heard at 0:03 and 0:06″) from the piece Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul(1950) and can be heard in my piece at 0:00″, 0:02″ and 0:08″.
-Note one particular audio technique you applied in this task not applied before:
One particular audio technique that I have not used before is the adjustment of a sound’s pitch by speeding up the audio after plate reverb had been added, so that the reverbs decay of the sound also has an adjusted pitch. Heard in my piece at 0:00″, 0:02″ and 0:08″.
-Note one particular music technique learned through this task.
Through this task, I learned that changing the pitch of a single sound by speeding up or slowing down audio can be used to create a disjointed, atonal melody out of noises that may not contain any distinctive pitch of their own. This can then also be the basis for building sounds around others that may already have their own discernible pitch, which can then be arranged to fit in with a collection of pitched noises.
-In my view, how is this task an example of practice as research?
In my view, this task is an example of practice as research because it encouraged me to listen to other examples of Musique Concréte and, through the creation of my own original track, research into the techniques of close proximity and contact miccing to attain sounds and use them in the style of other examples of the repertoire.
-Auto-evaluation: what mark would I give myself for this task and why.
For this task, I would award myself a mark of 55-65% because my piece displays a reasonable base of knowledge and also explores the theory and disciplines behind Musique Concréte whilst showing originality. My piece shows consistency in its compositional direction and demonstrates a structured and reasonably accurate expression of my interpretation of what the task objective required from the outcome of my piece.
Word Count: 501.
- Schaeffer, P and P, Henry. (1998) Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul on L’ OEuvre Musicale (CD). France: INA-GRM.
- Schaeffer, P and P, Henry. (1998) Etude Noire on L’ OEuvre Musicale (CD). France: INA-GRM.
- Stockhausen, K and Kontarsky, A (1993) Mikrophonie on Klavierstucke I-XI / Mikrophonie I & II (CD). Europe: Sony Classical.