Geography is a project designed to explore music and location in a symbiotic way. It allows perambulating listeners to decide and improvise journeys through a cityscape led by location-specific music.
Different musical sections are composed for different ‘pathways’ through a cityscape. (Pathways may be roads, footpaths, pavements etc) These sections are location sensitive so they are specific to those particular ‘pathways’. Depending on the decisions taken by each individual listener as they make their journey through the cityscape, these musical sections combine to create a linked composition. Listeners can also affect aspects of the composition by the speed that they travel, if they pause in an area, if they are facing a certain direction and how they interact with their surroundings. Each listener therefore creates their own personal ‘arrangement’ of the music.
The musical sections are designed in order to create a homogenous teleological composition whichever route is taken. Flexibility is built in to the music so that it functions regardless of the divergent times taken on each individual’s route. This flexibility particularly applies to those points or ‘junctions’ where there are options to be decided and acted upon, such as crossroads.
At the end of the journey a recording of each listener’s personal arrangement is then available for them to keep along with a map of the area explored and their route taken.
The music composed is location sensitive. This means that if you travel along Pathway A you will hear specific music assigned to that pathway, and you will hear something different on Pathway B. At ‘junctions’ the music has even more flexibility composed into it, like holding bays before we set off again along a new pathway. The music is guided by a number of ‘strands’ – geographic parameters, location history, field recordings and composer’s ‘flow’. This means that there is a balance between the use of location ‘data’ and artist creativity. This is important. ‘Technology’ is central to the project but compositional creativity should drive the outcome rather than concept-driven aleatoric results.
Geographic Parameters – Each pathway will have its own character. It may be a wide road, straight, with tall buildings, running north to south, constructed in the last 40 years, sited within a ‘commercial business’ area, or it may be a narrow road, curving, with trees, Victorian housing, sited in a ‘residential’ area. These characteristics provide some of the data for that location and will be reflected in the music.
Location History – Each area has its own background. It may be sited near a harbour, or near the site of a cattle market, battleground, ancient well, . Or it might simply be that the shoemakers used to work there. The history of an area can feed in to the music.
Field Recordings – In some cases recordings of a Pathway will be made in advance to be used compositionally. For instance if a Pathway is known for its night-time status (clubs, pubs and night-time noise) a recording of that particular ‘energy’ might feed into a composition especially when experienced out of context (i.e. not night-time).
The Instrumentation and Sound World
There are three main sources for the sounds. 1. Analogue synthesis will provide much of the rhythmic and harmonic framework from Moog Sub 37 and Moog Voyager instruments, 2. recordings of individual analogue instruments (wind, string, brass etc) will be multi-tracked and mixed in with 3. audio recordings – field recordings taken in location and any historic recordings.