We were interested in influences particular spaces could have on a recording session. The resonant dome in Tårnsalen at the Kode 4 museum in Bergen, and the completely dry anechoic chamber at Haukeland University Hospital, gave a maximum contrast of spatial experience.
Tårnsalen has a prominent flutter echo directly underneath the dome. For the recordings, I placed the soundfield microphone 1 in this middle area, while the musicians performed at the sides of the room.
Our 'Joyce whisperings' were based on extracts from "Finnegans wake". 2 I suggested ways to deal with the text; concrete whisperings of text, whisperings obstructed by the hands, inhaled or exhaled in unpredictable patterns, whispering through an instrument, imitating speech with an instrument, stretching and changing the chronology of the text, and free sound explorations. It should all be at a balanced whispering or barely voiced level. The approach is similar to our "Soto l'imperio" improvisations. We suggest ways of relating to a literary or a musical text, and the detailed composing is done by the musicians.
The musicians walked around, exploring the acoustics of different positions, inside and outside the room. The subtle Joyce whispering could balance louder sounds coming from outside in the hallway. Those outside could create a certain energy of being trapped in or expelled to the hallway. There were outbursts of polyphonic singing and shouting I found highly interesting as a composition, standing against the whispering stasis elements.
My detailed composition "Nuper rosarum flores" has a similar growths of polyphonic life, maintaining arch-like formal gesture at a local level, while on a larger scale, it contains fragmentation and ambiguity.
The anechoic chamber added a near claustrophobic experience. The room gives nothing, recordings are very revealing and can capture a large range of details easily blurred in a resonant space. The soundfield microphone was hanging from the roof. This was the best solution, as the floor of steel wires was very audible with the microphone on a stand.
It is not possible to project this dryness into larger spaces.The performance acoustics will always impose a minimum resonance. For the final artistic presentation at the Bergen International Festival may 2018, Håkonshallen added it's reverberation to everything. As a reconstructed medieval building, it was acoustically and visually appropriate for the "Wheels within wheels" project, while the sound installation at Østre projected more clearly the very dryest ambiences of our recordings.