Sound Worlds

About

Soundworlds is a composition project consisting of four quasi-acousmatic orchestral pieces inspired by fantasy environments.

Sound Worlds was my final bachelor’s degree project and explores a combination of synthesised instruments with recorded and manipulated material. The piece was originally designed for 8-channel surround sound, but is currently only available as a stereo listening experience.

This composition project features a set of 4 pieces which take form using acousmatic surround sound and scored orchestra. In a performance setting, the orchestra will play alongside the acousmatic soundscape which is played through speakers using a DAW. The orchestra will be cued by the conductor who has a stopwatch and timestamps on a score which correlate to the soundscape. There are two orchestral episodes per piece which will be played.

The material used for the soundscapes is made of both recorded sound and electronically produced sound. The electronic sounds were created with software instruments using a DAW, and are used to produce atmosphere and sounds that are not produced by conventional instruments. The recorded audio utilised a studio setup and a portable handheld audio recorder, to record the sounds of birds, rain, wind, trees, the ocean and other natural environments. There are also recordings of a variety of percussive instruments and sounds.

My objective for each piece was to create a ‘sound environment’ using soundscapes combined with the orchestra, which allowed me to create an atmosphere that would not be achieved with a conventional orchestra. Using 8 channels has been paramount in encompassing the audience or listener within this sound environment, as the atmospheric sounds surround them and bring their attention to a full audible range where sounds develop and travel around the speaker setup.

For example, a tweeting bird may enter at the front speakers and be panned across to the rear speakers behind the audience, creating the audible illusion of the bird soaring above or around them.

The inspiration for the initial ideas of this project came from the James Horner and Simon Franglen soundtrack Pandora: The World of Avatar (2019) which is featured as a soundscape at Disney theme parks but also released as a studio album. In particular, the third track Pandora Walkthroughwas a source of inspiration to blend the recorded soundscape into the orchestra and have them both overlap.