Sonic Saturday curated by Ian Baxter

On Saturday, Ian Baxter curated his first Sonic Saturday at Bank Street Arts, showcasing exciting new works by Sheffield composers working in the electro-acoustic acousmatic tradition, which is the manipulation of sounds in the studio.

I invited a small group of writers to come in and spend a solid hour free-writing while the sounds played in the café atrium space.  The free-writing exercise allowed us to tap into a more subconscious response to the sounds, which we are now working with to create a poem or short text.

I’ve found the process to be quite meditative, and that given enough time, I’m able to relax, to reach a point where I could not have foreseen the content that comes to the page.  These ideas will form the basis of the poem.  There may be specific phrases I wrote that I’ll use in the finished poem, as was the case with the poem I wrote following the art and sound workshop in June, or it might be that the experience is better expressed in other language, but it is this sense of atmosphere that I hope to invoke.

The sounds were from a group of artists, all working individually and then placed side by side on the CD, so one 10 minute segment may have had a significantly different feel to another.  However, I didn’t notice any great leaps from one piece to another.  They moved quite smoothly, and it will be interesting to see if one piece dominated my impression of the whole more than for the other writers.  For example, there were many different bell-like sounds, with some becoming more like a pipe-organ.  This gave me a feeling of being in a cathedral, which taps into many of my own experiences, and fed much of the free-writing.

In January, we will submit our poems to the sound artists, who will record our reading of the poem, and then respond to the text, manipulating our voices, and using other sounds in their response.  This will then be performed at another Sonic Saturday event at Bank Street in February.


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