resonance ensemble

resonance ensemble


Resonance Ensemble is an exercise in physical interaction with material objects, challenging human perception of acoustic phenomenon and guiding peoples intuition of group dynamics. This type of sound action? is carried out in a workshop context with a group of 10-20 people. The participants of the ensemble take everyday common objects such as rocks, jars, bowls, leaves, bells, etc. and transform them into acoustic sound-making devices. When a set of uniform objects is “played”? by larger group of individuals the sound is multiplied and takes on new and unique qualities. The objects are shaken, moved or rubbed in a repetitive, sometimes rhythmic fashion, to bring out the acoustic properties of the objects. From the resulting sound, overtones, voices and patterns often form out of the “chaos”?. The overall sound fills the space and takes on the character of the group. The focus is not on the individual participant, but on the function of the group as a whole. Outside observers are discouraged. In this manner, the participants in the group are also the audience. In many cases a “sacred”? environment is created as the participants redirect their listening attention to the whole sound in the space instead of their individual actions. Several attempts of 10-20 minute sound actions for each particular object is usually necessary for people to focus their perception on listening and to achieve the “ego-less”? state of the group. The result is often an enriching and enjoyable experience for the participants. The only requirements are the spontaneity and open attention of the ensemble participants.

roof tiles
Resonance Ensemble installation. Stazione Topolo, Italy (7/99)
locally found objects like these ceramic roof tiles were used.

roof tiles
Resonance Ensemble has been held in Austin, Texas and at the Stazione Topolo’/ Postaja Topolove festival ’99 in Topolo’ Italy. Recordings of each action are archived and used in the studio for sound compositions.

A description of the Resonance Ensemble recording sessions this spring in Austin, getting to the mood of each gathering… by Seth Nehil (6.8.99)

Like a young child whose impressions are still forming, these sounds grasp at a sense of tactitlity and recognition, simultaneously eluding it. The crystalline iris-circles are open to deep emotional impressions, seeking out a new contact. These sounds carry their own weight – without the imposition of an internal progression. The processes proceed with their own momentum, moving us forward in time. Softening the skin of the inner ear, opening to the inner dynamics of wave-forms.

(2.21.99 evening)

We gathered in the empty lecture-hall of an uninhabited school building, the crisp echo of the room muted slightly by the presence of our bodies. The rows of empty chairs staggered upwards at a sharp angle – an implied audience. We passed out the plastic reeds and affixed large paper cones to them. We placed the four microphones in a rectangular fashion and distributed ourselves at varying distances. The wavering tones of the reeds pierced through the space like bleating animals or unquiet birds. Playing with vague rhythms, we overlapped and intersected the lines of wavering tones.

We are moving from an interest in specific materials and manipulations towards an interest in organization and acousticality. Organization is a self-producing, evolutionary structure, not an imposed hierarchy. Fields of intelligence and communication between people or sounds occur on a moment-to-moment basis. Influence builds, reaching a catastrophe point and giving way to a new trend which was implied by the one proceeding. Representations of natural processes are also the processes themselves in operation.

Each finding a container of various material – metal, plastic, cardboard, glass – we filled them with handfuls of bean. Tipping the containers created a wave of hushing pink noise. Dropping the beans from a height created pointillistic interspersions. We each travelled throughout the space, moving in relation to the microphones, in and out of proximity.

(3.14.99 evening)

We gathered at the house because of its quietude. The approximately square, unfurnished living-room led into a dining area with a low table, and a kitchen where food simmered. Closing the windows, we gathered in a circle, the microphones among and above us. Humming with closed lips, we started slowly and spontaneously reached a tone that resonated within the dry acoustics of the sparse room. Rumbling through the chest cavity and down through the limbs, up into the nasal cavity and vibrating the head, closed into the body by tight lips, yet resonating within the space of the room, passing through the air to interact with it. Cycles of silence and activity, inhalation and exhalation.

The concepts of consonance or dissonance have been abandoned, yet adjustment of pitch becomes an important element in the final stages of mixing – a fine tuning of the interactions of layers. Pitch has an active role in the defining the quality of moods, interlocking sound bodies into an embrace. Drops of dew in the sweetness of a kiss, as sound bodies merge into a revolving whole, take on mass and weight, begin to breathe…

see also the Sound Cellar Project


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