I am interested in how the sounds of every day objects as well as unusual noises can contextualise music. For example, if you hear a sound, a noise, that you can’t quite identify, your mind is likely imagine a place for that sound. If on the other hand you can identify the sound as say, a cooking pot, you might imagine a kitchen. But if you hear a sound you can’t really identify, your mind has the opportunity to come up with an imaginary place. This is what interests me.
The type of sounds you choose to work with will have a big effect on the sorts of imaginary place the listener will invoke. So if I use tiny incidental sounds recorded with a microphone a couple of centimetres away, even though you might not know what the sound is, it may evoke a feeling of intimacy and perhaps calmness. Where as if I base the sounds on something large and metallic, with considerable physical movement involved its likely to have a very different effect. Even if I heavily process these so that they sound nothing like what they were, the place they create is likely to be colder, and perhaps even menacing.
What find particularly interesting is the use of sound which are not specific and can’t be identified exactly. This is because it invites the listener to invent a place for the sounds.
There are other ways to invoke the imagination with non-musical sounds. If you collage various sounds that could never fit with each other in real life another interesting thing can happen. It can be like being in one place while thinking about something else, which is something we all do. Or it can be like travelling through places, while various different thoughts pass through your mind, some related to where you are and some not. Collaging sounds can evoke all sorts of interesting things and states of mind, and again often to do with real or imaginary places.
One of the central points of interest for me in this process is that using sounds can engage the listener’s imagination in a very creative way. The place evoked by the sounds is likely to be an imaginary one and this becomes a creative act by the listener. If the music then inhabits this imaginary place, the listener is creatively collaborating with me in the music in an interesting way. Although I think there can be ‘objective’ elements in music, which to me, can be extremely important, the subjective elements present huge imaginative possibilities for the listener and player.
Of course it works in the same way when improvising with or writing for other musicians. If I trigger samples of unidentified sounds or sound collages with the guitar while improvising with another musician, the music they make can inhabit whatever place these sounds evoke in their own minds. This will of course affect how they hear the music and how they play.