We Who Believe in Freedom

https://ellawilliamssoundart.bandcamp.com/album/we-who-believe-in-freedom

For this project, I wanted to focus on both the Spoken Word segment and Sound and Narrative segment of Sonic Cinematic.

In going into the project, I wanted to use techniques from the class but create a project that had a lot of thematic depth and meaning, as well as emoitonal impact on the audience. I was inspired by recent events of injustice and wanted to create a piece to show how media can spin facts, and to pay tribute, in a way, to injustices.

The beginning of the piece consists of clips from mainly Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox, the O’Reilly Factor. I searched through videos of him to find specifically uninformed and offensive clips. I slowly layered more and more sound clips on top of each other until it was almost impossible to pick out specific words, then spliced his words together to say “we who believe in freedom cannot…”. I did this because I wanted to twist his words to echo the twisting of facts and ideas.

Then, a song comes in which is “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock. This song is significant because the lyrics are taken from Ella Baker, an activist in the civil rights era. The lyrics read, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes. Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers’ sons.”

There is a moment of calm, where all that is playing is the music, and then the last half of the piece, symbolizing the other side of the story, begins. The clips I used on the second half are of a reporter arguing with Bill O’Reilly, Dorian Johnson (Michael Brown’s friend and eye witness), and Esaw Garner (Eric Garner’s wife).

This project was challenging in the sense that I watched hours of the O’Reilly Factor in order to find the words to splice into “we who believe in freedom cannot.” I hope I was able to effectively juxtapose the illogical and hateful words of the news reporters with the sadness and feelings of injustice of family and friends of two men who were murdered by police.

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What We Don’t Notice

I was in the group Music by Rules: Life DeCoded. For my project, I thought about amplifying the subtleties of daily life that we tend to not notice. For example, things people do when they are not consciously thinking about their actions, absorbed in something other than their body movements, and subtle fidgety movements that people typically do not notice in each other. I examined a friend (the friend was unknowing that he was a subject) for 2 minutes and recorded every little movement he made. I wrote the movements down in my notebook taking note of both chronology and frequency of the movements, then I associated a letter key with each sound, essentially creating a composition using the structure of the fidgety movements. I wanted to use MAX/MSP because for my research group I looked at many algorithmic sound art pieces and was fascinated by the idea of using algorithms to represent something more organic, like human fidgeting.

sound art

Using MAX/MSP, I programmed 7 keys on my computer keyboard to trigger certain sounds that I found from freesound.org. I used mostly sounds in the key of G, just to have a harmonious sense to the piece, but a few are lacking melody all together. I play the keys in time with the movements to create a representation of the subtle movements through sound. I also finally started to understand MAX/MSP, which is a nice skill to have for future projects. I think it would be interesting to take this project to a larger scale and create sound pieces for people of different genders, ages, and other demographics to see how certain people sound when compared to each other. Here’s a picture of what the final piece on MAX looks like.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 3.28.43 PM

I do not have a sound clip to share on here, but I will be performing this piece live tonight. I originally had the idea to perform it live and have it be based off of the class in the moment (sort of an improvisational piece), but I decided to have more of a pre-produced project (it still is improvisation to an extent, because the score I wrote out is not a traditional score by any means). This was an interesting project for me in the sense that being able to interpret subtle human intricacies through sound gives a broader understanding of the fact that we are never truly still. I also feel great about understanding MAX/MSP a little more! Hopefully I’ll be able to incorporate this technology into my future music and future sound art projects.

Sonic Cinematic: How Sound Environment Can Affect Emotion and Meaning

My project went through many different phases, which resulted in a slight change of idea. This tends to be a recurring theme, but I guess the process is as important as the end product. I originally wanted to record people speaking and replace the words with sounds from nature and machines. This proved to be too difficult; as I could not figure out a way to match up the sounds I was finding on freesound.org accurately enough with the shapes of the words. So, I after fooling around on various programs, I decided to change my idea slightly. I would keep the soundtrack, but modify it. I ended up using a short video clip, and creating six different samples of the soundtrack. Using Reaper, I layered effects onto the original sound clip. Each track has at least three effects that I tailored to create the sound environment that I wanted. Each of the six clips has a unique tone. I wanted to create a unique space for the sound to exist in and see how the clip changed in meaning with different sound effects.

I did not want to lose the video aspect of my original idea. So, there are two aspects to my project. The six clips can be heard without video, but I also put the effected sound back onto the video using iMovie. The entire video can be viewed as well as just the audio. The video contains this unexpected sound that creates a strange environment (typically, weird sounds are associated with equally weird imagery. In my video, the imagery is completely normal and expected, with strange and unexpected sounds.) I chose the segment that I did because without context, it seems strange and confusing (similar to how without the context of the video, the sound clips are strange and confusing). the link to the audio is here https://ellawilliamssoundart.bandcamp.com/album/robs-opinions-of-the-prairie-audio and the video is here https://vimeo.com/108821090

How Was Your Day? A Self Portrait With Sound

https://ellawilliams.bandcamp.com/album/how-was-your-day-a-self-portrait-with-sound

For this project I wanted to explore what different spaces mean to me, and the role sound plays in creating and shaping environments. I was interested in which sounds occupy my day frequently and obviously, and which sounds may occur frequently but go more unnoticed. I also wanted to apply rhythm to things that we typically do not apply rhythm to. People often do not consciously notice how rhythm is present in non-musical sounds sounds that exist.

As I worked on my project, I realized more and more that the sounds that are part of my day might not be the sounds that are part of someone else’s day. I wanted to create a self-portrait, document my daily life, and explore how I uniquely experience Grinnell through sound.

I executed this by carrying a sound recorder with me everywhere. I was not able to capture every single environment I exist in during a standard day, but I ultimately captured the environments that are most meaningful to me, or where I spend the most time. For the first track, I layered every single snippet I recorded (without censoring any material) to create an organic, honest representation of every aspect of my day. I played with putting different tracks in the left or right ear to create a three-dimensional experience. The next 5 tracks are single, specific moments that define my current life through sound. I used organic, unedited snippets, along with spliced sounds to create a sense of rhythm and composition.

Ultimately, this project is a compilation of all the sounds I regularly hear and the sounds that define my daily experience. They offer insight into my personal experiences as a student at Grinnell, and insight into different environments at Grinnell that everybody might experience.