Scattered Voices: Part 1

duck-rabbit is an improvising trio exploring the use of acoustic and electronic instruments. Scattered Voices will document the development of the electronic side of duck-rabbit over the coming months. For this first instalment we travelled to a desolate beach on the south coast to collect sounds and images. These sounds became the source material for our electronic improvisations and they are inextricably linked to the images that accompany them.


We have worked hard over the past few months to develop an electronics setup that affords us a spontaneity and range comparable to our acoustic performances. We quickly recognised that a trade off exists between flexibility and the hands-on control required to make musically informed decisions. In designing our instruments it was important to provide enough variables to offer sufficient variety and adaptability, whilst also providing a limited enough scope to offer the tactile immediacy essential to spontaneous decision making. Within the environments in which we worked (SuperCollider and Max/MSP) we were careful to enforce certain limitations so that we could develop a strong connection with our instruments. We view these recordings as the first step on a journey and at each stage we hope to build on the experience we have gained, gradually adding further layers of complexity. Each part of Scattered Voices will involve a thorough exploration of our tools as we document this incremental development.

The idea behind Scattered Voices is that each recording uses sounds derived from a particular location. No other prerecorded sounds are used and the performances themselves are entirely improvised. In this sense the music is a kind of improvised musique concrète where each recording is bound to a particular place. The first step in this process is recording the sounds themselves. We set about doing this armed with a range of implements to strike, bow and scrape objects that we found. The beach, itself a picture of desolation and decay, offered a great variety including disused shipping gear, makeshift structures and various grains of sediment. After collecting the sounds we set about categorising and refining our selection. These were then loaded into our instruments and we proceeded to record a series of group improvisations.

Listening back to the recordings, it is striking how connected they feel to the atmosphere of the place. Our performances seem to draw upon our experience of the environment itself as well as the sounds that were collected there. We are excited to see how other locations will inspire our music making and look forward to recording the next part of Scattered Voices.

James Opstad
11th June 2014

Listen to Scattered Voices: Part I on Bandcamp

Watch Slumber on YouTube

Max/MSP was used in the recorded improvisation in conjunction with SuperCollider and a custom built feedback instrument used for playing and manipulating the recorded samples.
Max/MSP/Jitter was also used to edit the accompanying video. Jitter was used to cut between 20 camera angles, and control colour properties and effects in the video. Max/MSP was used to derive data for these parameters using the stems and overall mix of the audio recording.

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