may 18th-19th: field recording workshop, malmo, sweden
june 13th-20th: field recording workshop with Chris Watson & Jez riley French, Iceland
22nd june - 2oth august 2013: audible silence: the tate, sleeping and waking' - headphone piece exploring the hidden sounds of the Tate modern building, Tate modern, London
september 6-8th: field recording workshop with jez riley french & chris watson, norfolk, uk - places available
october 4-13th: installation (room tones / littorals), Spazioersetti galleria, Udine, Italy
october 11th: resonant terrain walk, castletown, portland as part of the b-side symposium
december 6-8th: field recording workshop with jez riley french & chris watson, norfolk, uk - places available
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Matt's work as an improviser often combines field recordings and his own sparse and consistantly interesting approach to the trumpet. More often than not he performs in collaboration with others, such as Angharad Davies, Mark Wastell, Lee Patterson, Rhodri Davies, Kieth Rowe, Ben Drew, Samantha Rebello, Graham Halliwell etc. and has also worked closely with contemporary dance groups. A link to his myspace page (with samples of his audio work) can be found by clicking on the title of this post & his 'field' project can be found in the links list and Matt has also submitted a piece for this blog - 'Rain' (above).
I asked Matt to answer the 4 basic questions regarding field recording:
JrF: when & why did you become interested in field recording ?
MD: At the time it felt necessary to use sounds that existed 'out there in the world', things that were not made by me. I think the feeling at the time was that my trumpet work was too introspective and the personal decisions I was making had become irrelevant and arbitrary. I've always made work which is very process orientated and field recordings gave me an opportunity to get back to working like that - i.e. going somewhere and recording the sound, being led by the sounds rather than the other way round. It also has a lot to do with space - I kind of see most of what I do relates to a perception or presentation of space(s), so playing field recordings was an obvious way of developing that - playing the sound of the space, creating a sense of space with recognisable or non-recognisable sounds. It's something I developed a lot working with some forms of contemporary dance such as Butoh where the music/sound can provide a space without dominating or directing what's happening, remaining very open, like that particular form of dance.
JrF: how do you use your field recordings in your own artistic output ?
MD: I've come to think of field recordings as basically anything - so I can cheat a bit and record sounds that I make deliberately. Which contradicts what I've just said, but there you go. I don't process the sounds much, if at all, and if I do I do it before using them. Performing I use a very simple process of playing the sounds like samples - layering, looping and composing them together. There are very few parameters to deal with, volume and the length of the sound/loop being the main ones. I started by using two or three mini disk players, with a little external effects, and that's basically what I do now except with the possibility to have many more sounds available much more easily.
JrF: do you regard 'natural' sounds as a musical element (bearing in mind that the conventional definition of 'music' is rapidly becoming obsolete) or as sound ? is this definition important to you ? does it matter ?
MD: I don't really worry about whether you can define them as music or not, or whether the output is music rather than sound. It's probably in-between, which is an interesting place to be. It's undoubtedly an important difference but I'm not sure how. There is a difference between sound and music, so maybe we're on the cusp of it. I'd call the recorded elements 'spaces' before 'sound' or 'music'. (A dubious example here is a recording I used a lot from a playground, with Stevie Wonder playing really loud from a stereo - lots of obvious music but more a recording of an event, a space, than a recording which you could say was primarily a musical element.) For singular elements of sound, if they have a sense of focus, enough to get your attention, then I'd say they have a musical quality. I think this music challenges people to listen for this intention, rather than the obvious musical qualities - or just getting them to listen.
JrF: has the act of making field recording had an effect (positive or negative) on the way you listen to your everyday surroundings and how has it affected the way you listen to other music and sound (if at all) ?
MD: In a funny way it's probably made me more tolerant to intrusive music. It was possibly a way of listening to the environment which prompted me to record things, rather than the recording producing an effect.
The piece - Rain.
'Rain' is a piece made entirely of recordings of rain. Last summer, which was particularly rainy, I made quite a few recordings, and also used some I'd had previously. I was attracted to recording rain as it's a kind of white noise of that particular space. As I said I'm more interested in space(s) than sounds, so rain is a nice way of capturing the sound of a space without any particulars. It's like the audible silence of a place, and has a kind of stopping effect - something to do with its melancholy. And each time is different of course. Out of these recordings came an amalgamation which travels through several recordings. You can hear things within it but it's also a dense texture - very much like white noise, although not quite. Playing with something which may or may not have an internal form - which you may just experience as an object of sound, or enter into it as a space in itself. It kind of asks you to stand in two places at once.