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Sound of the Mountain - Residency Writeup

Sound of the Mountain (Elizabeth Millar and Craig Pedersen) spent 5 days on Tone List’s Residency #4 at Spectrum Project Space from December 26 to 30th 2017.

Their improvising-sound-noise duo focuses on acoustic and electronic textures and sounds through the use of extended techniques on acoustic instruments (trumpet and clarinet), close amplification, and self-made instruments. 

The concept for the residency was for Sound of the Mountain to make, perform and collaborate. During the day they worked on expanding their sound-making practice by building low-voltage noise-generating instruments and programs in Max MSP. In the evening these instruments were used in performance and collaboration with local musicians. At the end of every day the instruments and the room were dismantled and returned to zero state. In this way each subsequent performance involved different instruments, sounds and collaborators.

On most days the various sound sculptures or instruments came together within 30 minutes prior to performance. Whilst this was not always a comfortable situation, it was interesting to see how new ideas could materialize at the last minute, given an urgent need. Often the self-made instruments would not function the way they were intended, and grappling with them in a live setting became part of the performance, and informed the music. During the residency the artists explored the limits of an aesthetic-driven practice, as every day they chose to work in new and unfamiliar ways. Through out the residency, members of the community exchanged ideas, practices and sounds, and there was a wide variety of performances.

Below is a summary of each day of the residency, including the instruments built, the performance schedule, and a recording except from each concert.

Sound of the Mountain (Elizabeth Millar and Craig Pedersen) would like to thank collaborators Sage Pbbbt, Furchick (Claire Pannell), Pedro Alvarez and Josten Myburgh, Tone List, Dan O’Connor, Filth Goddess, Eduardo Cossio and everyone in the community, including those who performed during the week, those who lent equipment, and those who helped set up and pack down the space.

Day One

Elizabeth built: Contact microphones, vibrators and bangles in metal bowls with contact mic, massage motor with contact mic trailing on the concrete floor, Max/MSP patch sending a saw-tooth wave into set of earbud headphones inside of a long tube, fading in and out at different rates.

Craig built: Amplified computer fans controlled with potentiometers, fans were left on and Max/MSP patch faded the signal in and out based on semi-random values. Feedback machine: a condenser microphone in front of a bass-amp; microphone signal was routed through audio interface, and volume was controlled by a max patch. Rate of change and maximum volume was set by semi-random parameter, so that feedback occurred semi-unexpectedly, in partially unpredictable ways. White noise generator fading in and out at different rates, outputting into broken JBL single channel speaker. Attached to the speaker cone was heavy tin wire, which carried the signal to a small cymbal that had a tambourine bangle on it.

Audio excerpt: Performance (Sound of the Mountain with Josten Myburgh).

Day Two

Elizabeth built: AM radio, magnetic pendulum amp switch for contact microphone, cymbal and tuning fork 'mobile' in a fan

Craig built: Feedback machine: JBL speaker with tin wire going to a contact mic'd toy cymbal, routed through an audio interface and back into the speaker. JBL speaker could be used with tambourine bangles to adjust sound. Max/MSP patch spatialised the feedback into 4 cymbals.

The day also included an improvisation session with Shoshana Rosenberg, Josten Myburgh, Ali Fyffe, Matt Hinchliffe and Sage Pbbbt.

Audio excerpt: Sound of the Mountain performing to Passages, a film by Shinkan Tamaki.

Day Three - Collaboration with Pedro Alvarez

Elizabeth built: Fan popping with bouncing metal cord, close mic'd. Motorized arm hitting contact-mic'd metal goblet. Milk frother in contact-mic'd metal goblet.

Craig built: 2 computer fans controlled by swithes connected to trumpet valves. Potentiometers to control fan speed, connected together with alligator clips, and tip-bin salvaged wire. One fan in a colander, another fan on top of a cymbal.

Pedro Alvarez used two guitars, with one functioning as a low-gain feedback drone instrument.

Audio excerpt: Sound of the Mountain with Pedro Alvarez

Day Four - Collaboration with Furchick

Elizabeth built: Fan streamers beating on colour-changing LED sieve with contact mic, through octave pedal. Vibrator-controlled circuit switch driving motorized percussion on: metal goblet, cow bell, thunder tube spring.

Craig built: Two toy cymbals suspended from the ceiling; hanging off each of them a 5V hobby fan. Used rare-earth magnet ended wire, connected tip of each motor to a slinky. Slinkies had foam cups attached to the bottom for amplification. Attached contact microphones and controlled through mixing desk. 9V battery connected to old broken speaker taped to a vibrator, spoon attached to battery, circuit completed by touching vibrator clip to spoon. Vibrator created continuous on-off when placed against spoon, and acted as a synthesizer. Speaker was mic'd with another small speaker that had been turned into a microphone, run into the mixing desk for control.

The day's activities included a visit to SciTech.

Audio Excerpt: Furchick with Sound of the Mountain.

Day Five - Collaboration with Sage Pbbbt

No new instruments built - much listening, including soundwalks, and exploration of sounds in the corridor space down the side of the venue.

Audio Excerpt: Sage Pbbbt with Sound of the Mountain.