EARS 2

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

Manuella Blackburn: Electroacoustic, Musique Concrète

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Name: Manuella Blackburn
Where do you live / work: I live in Manchester and I work in Liverpool
Personal Website: www.manuella.co.uk

Favourite Transformations

FilterCombi- 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 infoFilter

TransposeBadge- TranspositionA manipulation which changes the pitch of a sound. More infoTransposition

Splice- SpliceTo cut up a sound file.More infoSplice

PanBadge- PanningThe placement of sounds left and right between a stereo pair of speakers.More infoPanning

ReverbBadge- ReverbThe multiple short reflections of sound that give humans an immediate impression of space. Reverb effects can be used to impart a sense of space onto recorded or generated sounds.More infoReverb

What makes these manipulations your favourite?

I am able to generate a relatively wide range of sounds that are unusual, unexpected and sonically interesting from these manipulation tools.

1. How would you describe the type of music that you make?

I compose mainly acousmatic music (fixed media) and occasionally compose works with instruments and electronics (mixed works). The music I make is derived from recorded sounds from objects, environments, instruments etc…

2. If you had to use the genre categories to describe your music, which would it be?

Electroacoustic musicMusic in which electronic technology is used to manipulate, eventually generate, explore and combine sounds. More infoElectroacoustic music
Musique ConcrèteA term created by Pierre Schaeffer in 1948 to describe his new music, which started from the concrete sound material, from heard sound.More infoMusique Concrète

3. What types of sounds do you like to use when you compose?

All sounds are recorded and not synthesized. I have recently developed an interest is very short, brief materials as I find these more malleable to work with in the studio than longer more textural sounds.

4. What makes these sounds your favourite?

I enjoy working with shorter sounds as it is possible to create more complex and intricate larger materials from clusters of small sounds. I find this part of the process of composition attractive and fulfilling/satisfying.

5. How do you go about starting or coming up with an idea for a composition? Do you personally use a similar approach each time? Or is it always different?

I tend to start with a particular sound source and then go from there. I take a raw unprocessed sound into the studio and experiment with the sound with many different processing types. The approach is very much a ‘trail and error’ process, discovering new sounds that might work well within the piece or with other sounds.

6. Which composers /musicians are an inspiration to you?

I am influenced by a wide range of genres and styles beyond electroacoustic music. Within the field I think there is plenty of inspiration to be found in early works by Bayle, Schaeffer, and more recently, Dhomont, Smalley and Harrison.

7. What is it about this music that engages you so much?

I’m particularly interest in the level of sonic detail, quality of the sounds, sonic language and the composer’s craft at creating these works.

Switched On (extract)

An excerpt of a piece by Manuella.

8. If you were giving some general advice to someone who was beginning to compose a piece. What is the most important thing to remember when composing?

I think experimentation and exploration are key aspects to encourage when beginning a composition with sounds. Using your ear and finding sounds you like and enjoy is also quite important since will listen to your work in progress over and over until its complete!