Spectral Study for 20 Field Recordings
From the sound recordings sent by the Deputies of the Fictive Committee for the Salvation of the Earth through Speculative Fabulation from their places of origin, Felix Römer was asked to compose a soundscape reflecting the sympoietic event.
The sole basis of what we are hearing in the given pieces are the recordings that had been sent by the participants. No additional material has been added.
My approach was to eliminate all hierarchy between the recordings by musicalizing them to a maximum extend. In the process of transforming the complex sounds into a soothing musical atmosphere, I tried to focus solely on subtractive synthesis and time-stretching, adding (almost) no additional destructive effects. This means: what we are hearing are all the participants’s recordings, but stretched by different amounts (up to 800%) and with only a limited amount of overtones remaining. A simple example: in white noise, you hear all possible frequencies at the same time. By making use of substractive synthesis, you are removing a specific amount of those frequencies, in order for only a limited amount of frequencies being left. These „left-over“-frequencies are perceived by the human ear as musical pitch rather than complex, noisy sound.
If this process is applied to a field recording, you could argue that the musicality that had always been „within“ the recording is revealed; just like a sculpture can be regarded as something that had already been „in“ the stone, and is revealed by the sculptor, rather than created.
As a result, the recordings in their very original forms can not be perceived anymore — however, I was able to remove any sort of hierarchy: I did not downgrade „recording A“ to a simple backround-element, nor did I upgrade „recording B“ to an allegedly superior melodic element. Instead, all recordings contribute to the musical result in the very same way; all of them are on the same hierarchical level.
It may be a questionable choice, which is why I don’t want to consider the composition a composition as such (meaning: a final product), but rather a musical proposal („Denkanstoß“) the aesthetical outcome of which is up for discussion.
Felix Römer is a composer and pianist who mostly works in the fields of film-music, improvised music and sound-art. He studied at UdK Berlin, the Paris Conservatoire (CNSMDP) and the Royal College of Music London and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Composition for Screen at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF. His compositions have been featured in productions for 3Sat, the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg as well as group exhibitions in Berlin and Paris.