1000 year Compositions: Temporal Phenomenology

Ive seen this one shared around t’internet quite a lot recently

It reminded me of something I heard nearly one year ago: the 1000 year composition. I quite liked that, but after listening to one of my favourite pieces of music of all time slowed down I now look at that 1000 year piece in a new light. It’s a composition designed for human audition and intended to appeal to human sensibilitites (or aesthetics, if you must). No one human will ever hear it in it’s entirety and that’s the beauty of it in a way.

Some work that proceeds along a similar track is R. Luke Debois. Debois uses a custom designed algorithm to experiment with “time – lapse phonography”. What pray tell is that? In the words of the artist himself…

“I thought it might be interesting to try to find a way to compress sonic time, not simply by speeding it up, but by using statistical averaging of the sonic information in the sound in a way that preserves what I feel to be many of the cues we need to appreciate sonic detail… This process generates an overall impression of the sound fed into it, blurring and fusing its features into singular, sustained, and very rich tones”.

The track which best exemplifies this method is Billboard, care of his ‘Timelapse’ album. Billboard uses the above methods to present every track from the Billboard charts for Aug. 1958 until Dec. 1999. The length of time each track gets compressed into is contingent on how long it rode the charts, it gets a second for every week it topped the Billboard Top 40. It’s an interesting experiment in human perception and also a deliciously ironic commentary on the music biz: a compression algorithm condenses the near 40 years of Billboard chart before .mp3, another compression format, changed the rules of the game considerably via the explosion of Napster.

(story courtesy Stylus Magazine)

There is also this project which also works with the conception of sampling and time lapsed audio, this time attempting a much closer parallel with time lapse video methods. (http://plainfront.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/experiments-with-timelapse-and-audio/) Both projects are interesting experiments with how temporality can be perceived, and it’s clear that audio waves do not lend themselves as well to sampling as light waves, at least as far as our auditory apparatuses are concerned.

But speaking of anthropocentrism I started to wonder if you were going to do a composition that was THAT long (1000 years) why not play with the notion of what entities would appreciate a composition of that length.

Like redwood trees. Some plants apparently respond well to Music, and sympathetic vibrations could account for a lot of that. But I wondering if there are patterns of recurring frequencies which would play out at temporalities that are less sensible or apprehendable to the human perceptory apparatus.

I guess thats why the Museum Of Acoustic Geology appeals to me. It plays with all sorts of epochal auditory experiments and flirts quite well with the feeling of soundscapes designed for different phenomenological appreciation!Take for instance the ‘Carboniferous Era’ explored thusly:

A pirate radio station is installed somewhere in the bowels of Cockatoo Island, broadcasting acoustic translations of carbon spectra



~ by Stephen Fortune on February 13, 2011.

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