Friday, 29 August 2014

FUGUE 1,3,5,7 | Collaboration with HCF and Associates

I have been invited by HCF and Associates to create a multichannel soundscape installation for FUGUE 1,3,5,7 – their half of this years Archifest Pavilion, Singapore. The festival takes place 26 September 2014 to 11 October 2014 and is organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA).


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

An aggregation of distinct individuals in a given space and time, each person at random directions, creating motions dictated by spontaneity and space becomes a ‘Crowd’. Occasionally, they gravitate towards a common cause, for a moment that crowd make an identity that is beyond itself, an identity that is greater and more powerful.

In our pavilion the common plastic stool, the everyman object of void decks and kopi-tiams comes together in an aggregation that makes it greater; into monumental Architectural space, into narrative space. The stool is transformed. The design mirrors the gathering of individuals into a crowd for the festival. The stool of everyman in a CROWD.

Found objects are used in a celebration of alternatives; golf ball clasps tubing conduits, plastic insulation, foil roofs; all unusual and usual at the same time. They are brought together and held in similarly unusual bonding regimes. Yet when the bond is unmade, all can be disassembled and become ‘individuals’ again. 
(text / images above by HCFA)

The crowd is the sum of individuals
The soundscape is the sum of individual sounds

My response to the ideas within FUGUE 1,3,5,7 will provide an opportunity for the audience to immersive themselves in a sonorous reflection of Singapore.

Like the everyday found objects that come together to form the physical space, the found sounds (from my library of Singapore field recordings) will come together to form a variety of aural spaces and ambiances derived from Singapore's soundscape.

How does a soundscape – the culmination of individual sounds – affect my experience of a place?

This is the question (or experiential curiosity) that I would like to embed within the audiences experience of FUGUE 1,3,5,7. In turn, I hope the influence of acoustic ecology – soundscape studies – can broaden the discourse around the urban experience within the festival, and beyond.

Composition + Programming

I have been searching for different approaches to working with the field recordings I have made over the years. For this work I've been drawing inspiration from generative music (with a pinch of indeterminacy), weaving together categorised batches of material within the software Max MSP (listen to video below). One of my compositional aims is to create an ever-evolving piece where, for example, chance relationships occur between different sonic elements and shifts to new 'soundscape themes' are determined by certain programmable rules. In this way I can aim towards creating an aural experience that will be unique at any point in time within the pavilion.

Prototype 1 – from last week

Thus far I've spent most of my time building the infrastructure for the composition within Max. Thankfully with a bit of perseverance things have progressed well, and I found ways to keep it 'processor-lite', so that it can be accommodated by the equipment we have available for the installation.

The compositional challenge is how to maintain meaningful relationships between sounds and a coherent sense of narrative, whilst applying some generative & indeterminate processes. As Barry Truax points out in his response to randomised montages / collages of environmental sounds:

"The problem here is that the arbitrary juxtaposition of the sounds prevents any coherent sense of a real or imagined environment from occurring. In addition, the lack of apparent semantic relationships between the sounds prevents a syntax from being developed in the listener's mind, hence it is impossible to construct a narrative for the piece."

I'm trying to strike a balance by being very particular as to how I organise and prepare my material, for example, before certain randomised processes determine what / when material is played in Max.

When I have more time at my disposal I will elaborate on the details, but for now it's time for me to dive back into the material and enjoy composing!


Truax, B. 2002. Genres and techniques of soundscape composition as developed at Simon Fraser University. Organised Sound 7(2): 5-14