Howzat: An Appeal for Nature (2014)

Format: Algorithmic

Commissioned by Arts for Nature to celebrate the ecological diversity of Atherton Wildlife and Nature Meadow, Lancashire, UK. My contribution was to compose and perform a piece called Howzat: An Appeal for Nature (2014) an algorithmic sound composition that transformed environmental sound recordings from the surrounding area. The aim was to raise awareness of the biodiversity of this unique location. Sounds were recorded at different locations around the nature meadow. Muffled conversations, birds, barking dogs, cyclist  children playing, a cricket match and the noise of low flying aircraft humming across the sky. The sounds were edited and transformed in the studio. Listening in isolation freed the sounds from any contextual constraint, blurring their source-cause relationship. A technique of spectral filtering revealed the rich harmonic and inharmonic sonorities. Seeking out hidden musical properties within the sound material, such as pitched tones, resonant peaks and textures. Often unwanted noise or artifacts, inherent in the recording process, gave the sounds unique character.

The live performance took place at Atherton Cricket Club on Monday 25th August, 2014. During the performance the sound was further transformed using a custom built max/MSP algorithm positioned outdoors on a container truck with a PA system. Algorithmic processes in conjunction with a live performer provide a way to alter the inherent musical structure codependent on the environment.

Acoustic ecology recognizes sound as a complex sounding system that evolves in space and time. The way we experience sound affects our behavior and relationship to the environment we inhabit. As a complex ‘entity’, a soundscape presents the listener with significant temporal and spatial variation. Each individual soundscape reveals a unique set of temporal variations that relate both to biological and human rhythms of activities, while spatial variation mainly reflects land-uses in the landscape. The conservation of the soundscape is an integral part of urban and rural infrastructure. Monitoring and decoding sonic activities help us to understand how sound imparts and informs our existence.

  • artsfornature
  • cCC
  • CCCC
  • CC