Sonoqualia has been conceived as a workshop in which one experiments with sound material, focusing on the concept of sound effect, which describes the interaction between a physical sound environment, the sound environment of a community and the internal sound landscape of each person. The work of the workshop has been carried out using:
- Symbolic values and emotional meanings of the sounds used daily in interpersonal relationships.
- Previous experiences or "sound culture", variables in each participant, but that are enriched by being shared and put together.
- Sound imagination, with great capacity of development, sophistication and complexity.
- The sound material chosen simply by "How it sounds": aesthetic criteria.
Through Fundación Once, people with varying degrees of visual disability, both adults and seniors, were contacted: a total of 20 people distributed in 2 workshops of 10 participants. In each workshop, two groups of 5 people were created, who were assisted by two technicians, that used Mac Book Pro with 6-channel headphone amplifiers, so that a maximum of 6 people per group could work with headphones, without interfering with the work of the other group. Each group had a sound card, a H4 Zoom recorder, contact microphones and an omni-directional microphone. Both computers were connected via a mixing table to each other and to a loudspeaker system with active tripods of 500 WTS. For the development of the workshop, we used the free and open source software Audacity, a library of sounds prepared specifically for the project, sounds downloaded from the web page of Freesound project and sounds recorded by the participants themselves.
Each workshop lasted 24 hours, distributed in 6 working sessions of 4 hours each. The first five sessions focused on the acquisition of tools, sound vocabulary, experience creation and sound composition. The sixth and final session, shared by both groups, was focused on sharing and commenting together the experience, with the involvement of all the participants in the workshops, and was also opened to the public in general, in order to gather the diversity of opinions, testimonials and sound experiences. In these workshops, the work was based on three paintings housed in the Thyssen Museum in Madrid, which kindly lent us their audio descriptions to be used: Campesino Catalán con guitarra, by Joan Miro, Express by R. Rauschenberg and Woman in Bath, by R. Lichtenstein
Contents of the Working sessions:
- SESSION 1: 4 Hours: Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 September, 16:00-20:00 hours: "Breaking the Ice: launching Questions".
Introductory session, it was requested permission to make sound recordings of all the sessions. As a general procedure, the visual image was not used to collect the experiences performed, but only sound recordings. The objective of this first day was to introduce ourselves, to know the starting point of the participants related to art, to talk about the audio descriptions as a tool to approach the artistic visual works and to listen several soundworks with increased degrees of abstraction: Realistic Recordings, field recordings, sound landscapes according to the concept of Murray Schafer, concept and experimentation of sound objects, subjective sound compositions with metaphorical meaning, sound collages… We talked about sound and meaning: sound as index, emotion, movement, matter, and sound textures.
Participants were encouraged to explain and share their mental images associated with the materials listened, which include both sound pieces and fragments of poetry, as well as practical experiences with sound vocabulary. In addition, and in order to stop being only listeners, it was proposed to perform exercises with one's own voice: sounds associated with adjectives (high, low, soft, strong, smooth, rough, funny, sad...) and modulations between them; sounds associated with graphic descriptions, directions and spatial situations, with forms, associated with concepts: chaos, combustion, constellation, cloud, blocks... ...; and group performance of graphic scores. The library of sounds was also presented and its classification was explained.
- SESIÓN2: Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 September, 16:00-20:00 hours: "Entering the field".
Reflection and practical experimentation on the expressive and aesthetic possibilities of sound, its ability to transform, evoke and create spaces, as well as its capacity to generate mental images. We listened to more abstract sound pieces, increasing the importance of the exchange of subjective impressions associated with listening. We also listened to sound pieces related to the graphic proposals of the previous day, the concept of sound effect was explained. It was heard the audiodescription of the first work chosen: Campesino Catalán con guitarra, by Joan Miró. . Strategies of composition based on the following classification, were suggested and commented in order of increasing concretion: atmosphere or general tone of the table, epoch and context to which it refers, forms or objects that are described, colors that intervene, Textures, directions and positions of shapes placed in composition, perspective planes; Emotion or predominant emotions: how that emotion can be expressed. We talked about the possibility of anamnesis: to evoke personal past experiences, that is to say, the union of sound, perception and memory. The establishment of sonorous or sound-paired relationships was encouraged.
SESSION 3: Monday 1 and Tuesday, October 2, 16:00-20:00 hours: "Hands on: Beginning of the sound composition: the choice of material".
In the third session, two separate groups were made to work, one with each technician, which filled the table attached below with the materials collected in the previous session. The purpose was to promote the searching work of sound material, from a process of brainstorming, beginning with concepts, words emerged in free association, emotions... That would help the participants to choose the material to compose their first sound piece. The possible relationships between colour and sound were considered and there were experienced listening tones with different timbres to share the colour-related impressions. The work was personalized and focused on the intentions of each group. It was very important the close work between the members of each group and the technical facilitator, based on listening to the slightest suggestion in an attitude of encouragement of individual creativity. From the concepts collected, they began to look at the sound library, beginning with the most general, ie, atmosphere or tone. Searching and listening were alternated at this stage. Some of the groups began to compose, that is to say, to arrange the material in a temporal sequence. Every partial result composed via earphones could be tested and experienced in the loudspeaker system if desired, and commented.
SESSION 4 and 5: Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 October, Monday 15 and Tuesday October 16, 16:00-20:00 hours: "SoundComposition 2 and 3: Deepening in sound-language".
These two sessions, focused on the sound composition, were determined by the working speeds of the groups. Two other paintings were presented: "Express" by Robert Rauschenberg and "Woman in the bath" by Roy Lichtenstein, both in the Thyseen Museum. The latter was only made by one of the groups that showed a great facility and hight working speed for sound composition. It should be also emphasized that some of the participants brought sound references searched by themselves on the internet to solve certain transitions or moments; others asked us via mail to get a specific sound piece. The degree of abstraction of the chosen sounds increased, moving from more descriptive sounds to sounds chosen by their symbolic value. During the sessions, some participants made recordings to be included: they recorded their own voices or the voice of of their companions singing or declaiming passages, in a way related to sound poetry. More free and imaginative associations began to emerge, determined by particular readings or experiences that led to more risky decisions, which "negotiated" with their peers. The dynamics of negotiation included passionate and vehement discussions, as it was material related to the subjective experience.
SESSION 6: Tuesday, October 23rd, 16:00-20:00 Hours: "Final Presentation".
This session was common to all the groups and opened to the public in general. After a brief presentation of the project, we listened to the pieces corresponding to each of the pictures generated during the workshops, later the audiodescripción and next, again, the pieces. The objective was to achieve an initial listening not conditioned by the description of the picture. Later, the word was given to every group to explain their work process and to expose what they had wanted to express with their sound work. In general, the participants expressed how short the course had seemed to them and their frustration at having to leave when a new language opened up to them. They made us see that the experience had allowed them to discover unknown aspects, qualities and capacities in them: they felt empowered when perceiving art by the way, both analytical and emotional, that they had travelled within each one of the paintings. The sounds of everyday world were also seen in another way: from an aesthetic point of view and they referred to them as the "Daily Symphony of the World"