This post features seven collaborative works between Rhea and composers from the Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. In the Music for the Moving Image (M4MI), module run by Krisztián Hofstädter, the cohort creates original music and sound design for poetry, short films and games using acoustic and computer-based methods of composition. One assignment last semester was to compose music to light-images created by Rhea as a result of her experience of synaesthesia and observation of nature.
My approach to composing this piece largely involved improvisation in response to observation. In Quien’s brief, she said: ‘Allow your mind to relax, open and let images and sounds come to you.’ From this I understood that this piece required an aspect of spontaneity, free from any rigid structure or harmonic conformity. The dance of light project requires a silent mind, quiet observation and a holistic perspective. I wanted to enable each listener to respond to the light forms in their own individual way, so it became a priority that my composition should act in support of the image without imposing bias.
My improvisations collectively build layers of texture relaying the expansion of light and the itchiness of the form. I reacted to the unpredictable nature of the light movement which provoked me to play my violin unconventionally. As colours interweave one another, the musical fragments overlap forming fluctuating layers of harmony. In the same way, the changing shape and size of the light form informs the complexity of the musical texture; expanding and contracting in sympathy with the tension and release of the image in motion.
My initial approach for this m4mi project involved firstly developing an understanding of the video’s structure and emotional intent. Through this I was able to establish my own interpretation for the video and thus helping with the process of planning and composing. The aim was to portray the subtle, free-flowing movement of the light images (LI) through a collection of synths and sound design. The personality of each individual light image is represented and emphasised by a different note in an attempt to give them their own identity. I deliberately avoided incorporating any melodic style or form in order to mimic the random, unpredictable nature of the light images, and instead only used ‘drones’ to create an atmospheric, trance-like mood to the video. The sounds are partially synchronised with the light images, with a new note introduced with the expansion or emergence of each ‘LI’. The overall project provides the viewer with a fascinating visual experience of light movement alongside a swell of layered sounds in a peaceful and calm manner.
Unlike other projects I have worked on, I decided to ignore any side of theory or preparation when writing music for the synaesthesia video. Instead of writing a piece of music which I have rehearsed in order to play perfectly for the recording, I decided to simply sit in a dark room and watch the video a few times so I understood the ‘structure’ of the video. I then plugged in my guitar and played what came naturally to me. I used minimal effects and only one take in order to have the rawest sound possible. I used an open tuning (CGCGGC) which allowed me to keep a natural sustained ‘drone’ sound in the background.
The piece portrays the misunderstood character of a unique, alien figure made of light and movement. The music follows the creature through it’s journey of visual display, from an eerie introduction to a multidimensional climax of energy, light and sound signifying a heart pulsation bringing the creature to life.
My name is Evangelos Alexiou, also known as Alex Sander. I produce Psychedelic Trance or Psy-Trance Music, DJ and I compose music for films and games as well. My approach to the composition of this Light Art show was a combination of both experimentation and communication between me and the Lights. I perceived the movements, colours, and textures of those lights as the sound of the wind. Specifically, it felt to me as if it was a wind that was captured and struggling to escape. Hence, the wind sound starts quiet and gets louder and louder as the light reveals itself. When the screen goes black I wanted to keep it silent and then add a very abrupt sound for when the other light shows up. That second sound keeps playing until the end of the video.
I was aware of Rhea’s interest in nature and conservation. This inspired me when composing to the digital films to see them in a more natural way. I envisaged the lifecycle of a plant. A seed dispersed by wind, transformed into flower, and finally returning to seed. I tried to be guided by my instincts and not let music theory or over thinking get in the way. I used synthesisers and a recording of my own breath to create a futuristic soundscape.
I’m a 20-year-old music producer from Norwich, studying Creative Music Technology at Anglia Ruskin. I personally produce dark electronic music and rarely produce anything in the style required for the task, so it was a welcome break from my usual compositions. My main focus when creating the music was to represent the movement of the light using sound, following it as closely as possible with carefully chosen sounds and synths that I felt represented each light’s individual personality. I’m very pleased with how it turned out overall and I feel the sound ebbs and flows smoothly with the lights.