In June, we recorded material that a little later became a new work, “Snake Charmer” (2013). At the Visby International Centre for Composers, Jorge Variego, a composer and (bass)clarinetist was a visiting guest, and he suggested he could record some sounds in the studio. I took the opportunity, although I didn´t have any commission in the pipeline where I would need to record such sounds. But I dreamt of creating my own sound library, and then being able to pick sounds for different projects I work on. For example, for film. I’m most interested in recording “noise and shit” with acoustic instruments, perhaps also exploring some of the playing techniques that I have been unfamiliar before. Later on, I might be able to record voice as well. The possibilities are almost endless. Each voice has its own personality, in a different way than an instrument. You would have to record a lot of people!
Anyway, Jorge was quite open to exploring the sound of the (bass) clarinet, and showed me some new noises. Before our recording session, I wrote a little sketch for ourselves what kind of sounds I wanted to record.
Some examples of sounds we tested: breath-tones without certain pitch (inhale/exhale). Here we tested mostly with “long tones”; then adding whispers to the breath tones, both with short and long consonant combinations, short in staccattissimo (super sharp and short sounds). The best results are achieved if one whispers to half-open mouthpiece, not covering it completely with lips. And vary playing the keys randomly.
The most interesting thing for me was recording multiphonics and bisbigliando‘s, as well as frullato‘s. I got a whole library of them!
Later, I continued working in the studio and the final result was a fifteen-minute piece created musique concrète style, with recorded acoustic sounds. I didn’t try to totally transform them, because I wanted them as they were, without them becoming too “synthetic” when run through filters. The biggest job was cutting, which I did in Pro Tools. Then I ran my usual tools, such as pitch shift and some reverse. Short cut files I split on many tracks.
The basic idea was to start with different kinds of noise, and later more and more tones would be added. The work would culminate in a cloud of bisbigliando‘s and multiphonics, which are layered on top of each other, like a chorus of creaking, complaining ghosts. At the end is some kind of reprise where the noise material from the beginning returns. Later I made a shorter version of the piece.
The finished mix reminded me of some kind of working mechanism, or a factory. I have been stuck in such sounds since I wrote the orchestral piece Turbulence (or even before, with the piece Blow). It is such sounds that attract me. I just hope that not all works will eventually be the same. You should have some kind of variety in your writing.
Some of the sounds, especially bisbigliando’s on the other hand, remind me of an Arab-oriental old man, who lures snakes with his playing, that’s why I chose such a title.
Shorter examples, with a cloud of bisbigliando’s and multiphonics: