Alternative Stimulus for Music
This task asked us to create a sound map of an area as we walked through it. I choose to use Park Campus for its mixture of natural and urban installations. I took a walk around the complex and made notes in my journal about the sorts of things I could hear. An area that interested me above all others was the Lake, for its serenity was broken somewhat by the industrial sounds of car engines and phone alerts. It is always startling to me to find areas of beauty amidst the urbanity of modern life; the two aspects are utterly separate in appearance yet exist together because of our interference. I’ve mapped what I feel are the three main areas of Park, the Lake, the Refectory, and the main reception.
The first thing I noticed at the Lake was the musical call of the chaffinch, along with a symphony of other birds whose calls I failed to recognise. After that, the gentle rustling of leaves as the wind gusts through the trees. The water murmurs softly, and ducks, quacking, create whispers as they swim from bank to bank. The gravel crunches and grinds underfoot and stray twigs snap. In the grass, insects skitter, the loudest being the crickets’ song. Further away, voices rise and fall indistinctly, and engines rumble into life. Tyres roll over gravel and tarmac and cars whoosh past on the road beyond the campus.
The steam wand at the coffee bar hisses enthusiastically, and the till thunks against its bracket, coins tinkling loudly. The cashiers speak to customers and one another, and the conversations of other people settle to a steady roar. Footsteps ring across the floor and chairs scrape, the shrill noise making my teeth tingle. A door creaks open and settles back in the frame with a groan. Plastic rustles, music plays over the speakers and cutlery chinks against plates.
In the main reception, I could hear much of the same sounds found in the Refectory; the chatter, chairs scraping, coins tinkle, the coffee machine hisses. The chamber echoes considerably more so than the Refectory, and the chatter is punctuated every now and again by the metallic clunking of the double door button.
The second part of this task was to create an abstract score that was representative of the sounds we could hear. After considering the sonic characteristics of the various locations around Park I came up with this abstract score to represent the Lake. I feel I must preface this by saying I am no artist, and this work was a process of elimination in terms of shapes and colour palette.
I used oil pastels to create this abstract score, starting with a base layer of green, and grey that I blended sporadically to represent the background noise of the lake, the natural sounds that sink into the background as you walk through this area and go, at almost all times, unnoticed. Over this, there is some quite harsh work with a black pastel that represents the intrusion of the modern world and its industrialism on such a serene area.
The yellow dashes on the left-hand side of the score represent the chaffinch calls that were prominent throughout my visit to the Lake. I chose to draw them as bold lines because the bird itself sang so boldly and consistently drew my attention back to it and I wanted to recreate that fact within the score.
The dots of greens and brown in the centre represent the sounds of the leaves, their rustling and crackling, crinkling and crunching. I used pointillism to represent the way in which the sounds assault you almost out of nowhere. They are a harsh sound that stabs at your ears and likewise, I stabbed at the paper with oil pastels to recreate that feeling.
Beneath all of this are lines that rise and fall gently, yet jut upwards occasionally. This is indicative of the way in which the sounds of the water created a soothing atmosphere which was interrupted now and again by a duck splashing, or somebody throwing a stone to break the surface of the water.