Exploring Sonic Textures with Everyday Objects

Introduction to exploring sonic textures using everyday objects:

After talking with my PhD advisors about my current research, we decided the next course of action would be to create some sonic textures to pair with what I have learned so far. After recording the sonic textures and compiling them together, I then compared the noise/sound to different areas of recent research focus, including sonic affect theory, western meditation practices, drone music, music association, and more.

The process of discovery:

Since the University facilities are not available, travel is not advised, and we are all in self-isolation from the pandemic, I decided to record sounds and noises made using everyday objects in my home. Some of the tools I used include spoons, bottle caps, computer mouse, keys, pens, and doors. After recording, I compiled the sounds/ noises together using Audacity.

Asking the questions:

My research has led me to explore sonic textures on my own, along with endless rabbit holes of definitions, philosophers, musicians, and theories. Through exploration of different subjects and categories, I am left with many questions unanswered. Likewise, I am left with a lack of knowing how to view or explain my current research. I think this is normal with the PhD process. Afterall, a PhD usually consist of exploring an area of research that is currently lacking in a particular field. The end result usually introduces new terms with definitions and a new way of viewing  the field of study, offering a new direction for future researchers to build from.

As I am listening to the noises created from everyday object, I ask myself:

  • What is the difference between noise and sound?
  • When everyday objects stand alone as a sole instrument, would they make noise or sound?
  • When these objects come together to create rhythm, or other musical structures, how would I define this noise/sound?  
  • Is music comprised of sound or of noise?
  • How would I define the music I am creating with these everyday objects?
  • How do binaural beats fit into this definition?

The way I view and explain my research to others will depend on the terms and definitions I use.  After all, the languages we use are the building blocks to understanding the world around us.

Taking a term used in everyday vocabulary might be hard to re-create. However, using the associations with words could potentially give a better understanding to the research topics I am trying to share with the community.

Music is the same way, or even sounds/ noise. We associate a song to a past memory. We even use noise to associate with emergencies, like fire-alarms and police sirens. Music, noise, or sound provoke nearly the same response as language through these associations. Likewise, music communicates with us and can prep us for internal or external experiences.

Though it is still early in my research, I find myself using the word ‘sonic texture’ as a way to define the music I am creating now. My goal is to play around with sounds/ noise in various ways and find the sound/noise that would mesh with the binaural beat music I intend to create later in my research. In the future, I also plan to explore more of sound vs noise and come up with some theories of my own. Finally, I hope to come to some answers from to the questions posed above.

The sonic texture experience from everyday objects:

After listening to the sonic experience I have compiled using the everyday objects from my home, I am very excited and keen to use keys, bottle caps, or spoons in my future music.

I would like these to be overlaid with tribal drums and have developed some interesting beats in my mind that I can’t wait to develop. However, the keys, bottle caps, or spoons would help keep a beat rather than create a melody. I feel these sounds/ noises are strong enough to hold a beat but would loose charm or structure if performing a melody. I think this is because the sounds/ noises they make, though slightly similar to wind chimes, have less predictability or peaceful pitch. By using them as the beat-keepers, it gives a level of predictability and would make it easier for the listener to appreciate the music instead of constantly searching for where the spoon, bottle caps or key noises/sounds would go in the piece.

Other sounds/ noises like the door closing, I could use as a non-verbal way of allowing the listener to enter or exit the musical piece, much like the way someone enters or exists a room. I feel that it would be fun to create music that guides the listener on a journey. Maybe a journey of leaving the room, picking up the keys, and going for a drive? Likewise, I plan on making verbal guided music. Perhaps I could compare the verbal guides to the sound or noise assumption guides and see how the listener is sonically affected.

Listen to the sonic textures:

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