Icarus - Compositional Analysis
In my work I attempted to focus on this myth in a symbolic way, using airplane sounds as a metaphor for Icarus (a characteristic excerpt of an airplane seemingly falling down symbolizes the death of Icarus, 0:57 – 1:03). The stone sounds throughout the work provided information about the actual place before the escape – the stone-built labyrinth. The escape itself was depicted through the gradual metamorphosis of stone sounds to sped-up airplane sounds (2:35 – 4:40). The breathing textures section (5:15 – 6:42) was related to Icarus’ reaction towards falling in the sea. At the same time, I aimed to maintain some of the original soundworlds of the actual airplane recordings, in order to attribute a stronger sense of reality to the work. For this work, apart from using the binaural microphone in order to record the airplane sounds, I also aimed to explore this microphone as a tool for recording piano sounds. The stone sounds were captured later, with a pair of condenser microphones in the studio. The work also addresses a key research question: How can real-world source sound materials be transformed variations into new identities?
The airplane sounds were recorded at Manchester International Airport with use of Binaural Microphones, at three different locations: At the airport’s runway visitor park (L1) and at two different locations behind runway 23R: In Ringway Road (just behind the runway) (L2) and in Shadowmoss Road (near the car park) (L3). These three different locations allowed the composer to capture different types of sounds. In (L1) taxiing and distant takeoff/landing sounds were captured. In (L2), I was standing just behind the runway so takeoff sounds could be captured from the rear part of the airplanes. In (L3), landing sounds could be clearly captured as the composer was standing further to the runway, near the car park, under the airplanes which were approaching the runway. [Figure 4]
In addition, the same type of microphones was used for recording additional sound material used for the piece, including piano (1:07 – 1:12), and stones sounds (2:15 – 2:21). This work was characterized by transitions from the real world to the abstract world and vice versa. Both pitched and non-pitched materials were used. The airplane sounds were treated in three different ways: I. They provided an actual real-world airplane soundscape (0:50 – 0:57). II. They were transformed (pitch transformations) and used as background sonic elements, combined with transformed piano sounds (1:06 – 1:20). III. Harmonic elements were implemented on airplane sounds in specific sections through the application of pitched reverberation to non-pitched airplane soundworlds (0:20 – 0:49). At the same time, the stone sounds were also used as real-world soundscapes as well as abstract structures. The relationship between the actual airplane sounds and the actual stone sounds was gradually built via smooth transitions with use of stone sounds gradually changing into speeded-up airplane sounds (2:35 – 4:40), but also via airplane sound events sudden terminations2 (0:56 – 1:06). Stone sounds were chosen to create contrasting textures which oppose the continuously flowing3 airplane sounds. Moreover, transformed harmonic piano soundworlds with intervallic pitch relationships were superimposed over abstract background transformed airplane sounds (0:15 – 0:20). The creation of human breathing effects was achieved with use of GRM Filters4 in Avid Pro Tools5, which led to the creation of ‘human breathing’ effects (5:33 – 5:45), with the proper manipulation of the sound.
2Smalley, D. (1997). Spectromorphology: explaining sound-shapes. Organised sound, 2(2), pp.107–126.
4INA. GRM Tools. [online]. Available from: https://inagrm.com/en/store [Accessed 4/1/2017].
5Avid Technology. Pro Tools. [online]. Available from: http://www.avid.com/pro-tools [Accessed 4/1/2017].