Monday, October 25, 2010

what is a microphone?

What would the results for recording and 'sound art' be if there were as many different kinds of microphones in the world as there are pairs of ears? If, indeed, it was possible to use a pair of ears as microphones, and to feed whatever resonated in those inner cavities and nerves directly through the inputs of a recording device?

The thought was prompted by a friend talking about the experience of hearing the world with inner ears full of fluid - the result of a respiratory virus. Apparently certain frequencies are blocked, making all pianos sound honky-tonk and out of tune, and causing some women's voices to sound high and squeaky/'little-girly'. My voice is apparently unchanged.

Speaking of filtering, I'm loving the effects of my Korg MS20 synth on the vocal signal from my Beyer Dynamic mic. Every time I change the settings it's like I'm working with a new and 'differently-abled' microphone.

I think I'm attracted to sonic experiences of mild disorientation. Such as the slightly hallucinogenic interaction of my treated voice with the 'clean' signal in among the cycas, my chant-like interpretation of Jen Craig's micro-story Perspective.

As in my piece Over the River the audio and text converge on a shared experience of the Shoahaven river  during our Bundanon residency, but unlike the other piece, among the cycas has no field recordings in it. It relies instead on the inflections in my vocal and synthesizer improvisation in the acoustic of the Dorothy Porter Studio at Bundanon. The text captures a shared experience of looking at the river through trees from a rock high above the water. Something about the perspective subtly undermined our sense of which way was up.

My performance of Jen's text at the time was completely in the moment. But reflecting on it now it seems to me that the play with tuning, overtones and shifting pulses aims to suggest a similar disorientation of aural reference points around a very simple, almost montonal chant. Perhaps while you're listening to among the cycas you may feel like you've got fluid in your ears...

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