EARS 2

Discover the exciting world of electroacoustic music and learn to make music with sounds.

Composing Textures and Gestures

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Compose with gesture and texture.

As explored previously, sounds can be either GestureA Gesture is an energy trajectory (pathway), moving from one point to another.More infogestures or textures.

Each performs a different musical function and they complement each other well through their differences.

Using our knowledge and skills in transformation, we can combine and edit sounds to create both textures and gestures.


Creating Textures

Some sounds are naturally textural, others can be transformed in order to create textures.

LoopTo loop a sound is to continuously repeat it. More infoLooping sounds can transform individual gestural sounds into larger textural sounds. The looped sounds blend together creating a larger texture.

Time-StretchingA manipulation in which the Duration of a sound is altered. Time stretching can be used to make sounds longer or shorter.More infoTime-stretching stretches out sounds. The more a sound is stretched, the more textural it becomes.

FilterA filter changes the frequency makeup of a sound by making parts of it weaker. Filters allow you to focus on parts of a sound that are of interest to you, or to take away parts that you don't like.More infoFilters can be used to transform textures over time. As the bands of the filter move, the texture can be changed and developed. Combined with AutomationA tool that allows you to change the variable parameters of a sound over time.More infoautomation, this can be a very powerful tool in constructing movement within your pieces.

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Creating Gestures

Just as with textures, some sounds are naturally gestural. Others can be edited together to create gestures.

SpliceTo cut up a sound file.More infoSplice can be used to cut out chunks of different sounds in time, which can then be combined together to make new gestures.

FilterA filter changes the frequency makeup of a sound by making parts of it weaker. Filters allow you to focus on parts of a sound that are of interest to you, or to take away parts that you don't like.More infoFilters can also be used to cut out or eliminate different chunks of sound, not within time but within frequency (pitch). For example, filters can be used to remove or select just the high or low elements of a sound, these could then be combined with other sounds to make new gestures.

Reverseto play a sound backwards.More infoReverse can be used to discover new gestures within existing sounds or to flip gestures around, making them run in the opposite direction.

AutomationA tool that allows you to change the variable parameters of a sound over time.More infoAutomation can be used to dynamically construct gestures. An automation naturally creates a gesture when applied to almost any effect, e.g. TranspositionA manipulation which changes the pitch of a sound. More infotransposition, Time-StretchingA manipulation in which the Duration of a sound is altered. Time stretching can be used to make sounds longer or shorter.More infotime-stretching, FilterA filter changes the frequency makeup of a sound by making parts of it weaker. Filters allow you to focus on parts of a sound that are of interest to you, or to take away parts that you don't like.More infofilters, etc.

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Composition Tip

Think about energy and the natural properties of objects, this will allow you to relate sounds together gesturally in a way that sounds/feels natural.

For example: think about the swing of a bat, the thwack of it striking a ball and the final trajectory of the ball as it flies off and slowly loses energy. These actions are all related by a transfer of energy and the transfer of energy, in this example, can be used as a model for our own composite gestures.


Extra

Envelope plays a key role in defining whether a sound is a gesture or a texture.

When we transform sounds to create textures (using looping or time-stretch), we are blurring the original EnvelopeThe shape of a sound over time.More infoenvelope of the sound, making it less individualistic and strong.

When we splice and edit sounds together in other to create gestures, we are combining smaller elements or changing sounds in order to build stronger and more dynamic EnvelopeThe shape of a sound over time.More infoenvelopes.


Selecting Sound Materials

If you’re struggling to choose sounds to start composing with, then try to pick sounds which you find really interesting, or that have a personal significance for you.

You might find it useful to limit yourself to using only a few materials at first, and then gradually expand your palette as you need new sounds.

You might not end up using all of the sounds that you create in the final piece, but it’s useful to have a wide collection to choose from. Later on in the process, you’ll then be able to make new sounds on demand according to your needs (for example, if a sound is ALMOST correct, you’ll be able to hold the almost correct version, while you go back in and experiment with subtle changes in the parameters and settings. You will then be able to compare the almost correct sound with the new sound that you’re creating, until it sounds just right for your needs).

Activity

Pick any Sound Card PacksThese are collections of sound cards. Providing a range of different sounds organised around a theme. (Click 'More Info' for instructions on how to use sound card packs within Compose With Sounds).More infoSound Card Pack (or a combination of Sound Card Packs). Click the image below:

Sound card Pack

Take your chosen materials and begin to transform them by using the manipulations in Compose with Sounds.

Composition Tip

Use the export function to create permanently stored copies of the processed sounds.


Listening Modes

Try to use sounds according to their musical properties, rather than their contextual associations (i.e. use the sounds as sounds themselves). Transform your sounds to edit, and move them away from their original source associations.

Composition Tip

Contrast gesture and texture against one another.

Denis Smalley described how gestures enhance the impression of time passing. So, if you want to give the impression of forward motion within a composition, then you should use many gestures. If you want to give the impression of stasis, then use fewer gestures.