Sound-Runs: Sonic Adventures in (mostly) Maçka Park
Since October 2020, I have been collecting audio recordings while I run along a specific path in Istanbul's Maçka Park. The project began as a class assignment to explore a non-human ecological relationship through sound. The process was so enjoyable and so ear- and mind- opening that I haven't been able to stop myself. I have since expanded into recording while I run in other locations as well. Often this source material from various journeys becomes part of a composition. This page is a collecting point for some of my outcomes.
January 2023. "Run With Me / Istanbul Running" This is a composition for percussionists and electronics. The fixed media comes from sound runs recorded in various Istanbul locations, each with a different musical focus. It was premiered 7 January 2023 at Borusan Muzik Evi In Istanbul with sa.ne.na percussion, MIAM Percussion, and guest Christian Benning (the composer was also performing). The following text is from an abstract for a paper submitted about the process of creating the piece:
// This paper is part of on-going practice-based research in the fields of music composition and improvisation. It details a particular recent work which utilizes improvising performers alongside field recordings from the local sonic environment, and re-imagines them in order to offer listeners and performers another perspective on the familiar and mundane. The compositional practice seeks ways in which a concert performance can be used as a tool to encourage divergent listening skills which foster a sense of acoustic curiosity and acoustic community in the audience. The use of a supplemental visual score works in tandem to support this attitude towards curious listening. Here, I present the compositional practice alongside concepts of resonance and atmosphere, re-interpreting and re-situating noise, while suggesting the value of our own lived experience as a model for creative listening. The performers, visual score, and fixed audio media work together as a collective system that can offer a multiplicity of meanings. This experiment offers a simple model for a shared musical experience as a path towards reclaiming some control over our well-being in our acoustic ecologies, and for healing and community-building by better listening.
Fall-Winter 2020-2021. "Knowing the Park Through Running" This was a podcast style introduction to my sonic adventures in the park. It introduces concepts of listening and soundscape from authors such as Steven Feld, Helmi Jarviluoma, and of course R Murray Schafer. I also borrow a passage from Murakami's memoir "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running". This ends with my first composition based on my experiences of sounding in the park. This was shared in the MIAM Colloquium in January 2021 alongside my classmates in Dr Robert Beahr's Sound Ecology class.
Spring 2021. Transcribing, Composing, Improvising Research this semester lead me to think about how to notate the sound environment I experienced in the park. I experimented with traditional music staff notation, I used sonic visualiser to compare the background "noise" over time, and made timeline / event based approaches which looked more at the ecological and social networks that unfolded. My ultimate goal was once again to end up with a compositional outcome. I intended trying to use extended techniques within a chamber music ensemble to capture the sounds through purely acoustic means. This proved incredibly frustrating and I turned instead to the social nature of free improvisation. With the help of the MIAM Improvisation Ensemble, we created - in our isolated online class sessions - a performance that really captured the social feeling of being alone but with others in the park. Each member improvised along with my sound-run recording separately: a purely acousmatic experience where the source material is hidden from view. I combined these tracks in Ableton Live with minimal edits (but quite a bit of work in the mixing) to result in the work: Run With Me.
I am curious to compare the changes in the background / general sound: what RM Schafer would call the "flat line" or Francois Augoyard would refer to as the "drone effect". To do this, I turned to the program Sonic Visualiser. By lining up audio slices from a series of sound-runs and running them through the same transforms in Sonic Visualiser, I could start to see some of what I heard in the background. It is no surprise that there are differences and similarities. Now I am trying to connect these appearances to changes in time, season, and weather - especially the humidity. More on that to come. For more information, see this unpublished paper below.