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ORCH: 104 - Compose a soundwalk


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Instructor: @Monarcheon
Writing Requirement: Soundwalk
Special Requirement: Compose a general soundwalk

soundwalk is a composition intended to guide a reader along the path you prescribe. These compositions last generally last around 30 minutes to an hour and are intended to be the most sonically engaging possible. Soundwalks are composed as lists of instructions to guide the listener on their journey. Normally, soundwalks are composed with specific locations in mind, but it is more fulfilling and viable to compose general soundwalks, where the instructions should be able to be applied in most places. For example, a normal soundwalk I would compose would have the city I live in, Seattle, in mind while I write instructions, and would mention specific places, like the University campus, or the light rail stations. A general soundwalk would be more likely to include compass directions, indoor vs. outdoor specifications, and times. 

Here is an abridged example of a normal soundwalk, with the University of Washington in mind:

Striking Sounds about the Stevens Loop
by Alex Sanchez
This soundwalk calls for the traversal of stairs.  If this is not possible for you, simply enter the stairwell, participate in or simulate some of the activities suggested, then take the elevator to the destination floor, if necessary.
“Striking” is both a verb and an adjective; we will treat it both ways.  At various points during the soundwalk, you will be asked to strike objects.  Also, you will be asked to reflect upon or simulate the sounds you create--and stumble upon--during your walk within the various ambient and sonic environments you encounter.
Carry various objects made of various materials with which to strike other objects found during the walk.  Also, if possible, leave behind any delicate electronics so that your backpack becomes a “striking-sack” with which to create “booms” in reverberant stairwells.  Your hands are also valuable striking tools!
Also, it is recommended to wear socks and (fully to semi-)waterproof, but absorbent shoes.
For best results, this soundwalk should occur during a dry, somewhat windy school day, at or slightly before the main lunch rush.
Begin the soundwalk outside Music room 216, our meeting spot for class.  Take a minute or two to explore the sounds of the lockers in the hall.  Try opening and closing them with varying degrees of force, striking them in various locations with your striking tools, singing into them to find their resonances, etc.  What are the “highest” and “lowest” sounds you can make?  Which sound is the most striking to you?  Which aspects of that sound are distinctive and make that sound striking?  Remember your favorite sound; you will attempt to recreate it later.
Walk up the stairs, listening to the sound of your footsteps.  Try to explore the variety of sounds you can make by stepping lightly, heavily, dragging your feet, etc.
Exit through the doors leading to the Drumheller Fountain.  Walk there, and take a lap around the fountain.  Listen to how the sound of the fountain changes as you walk around it, and also to how the ambient sound around you changes as you move to different areas in the space.
Upon completing the lap, walk north towards Red Square and try striking the ground as go to see how the ground reacts to your striking tools.  Upon arrival, find pairs of conversations between people in Red Square.  Stand exactly between the loudest of them, and face one of the conversations, watching their mouths as speak.  As you do this, focus on the sound of the conversation behind you, ignoring the sound of people in front.  Do this for 2 more pairs of conversations: one at farther distance, and one at closer distance.  How does the experience of listening change at these distances?
Walk into Odegaard, noting the change of ambient sound, and up the stairs to the 3rd level quiet work area.  Sit there for 3 minutes, reflecting on the sounds you heard so far in the sound walk.  Which was your favorite and why?  Which details of the sounds can you remember?  Which were the most striking and why?
Leave Odegaard the way you came in and walk to the sculpture by the Law School we saw in class.  Strike it with your striking tools.  Try different locations. Does the fundamental pitch of the sound change depending on where you strike it and which striking tool you use?  What about the timbre and the resonant overtones?  Can you recreate the sounds you made with the lockers here?  What about other sounds that were striking to you?  Which sound of the sculpture is most striking and why?
Walk back to Music 216, and try to recreate your favorite sound on the lockers by any means necessary.  If your favorite sound was from the lockers, use your next favorite sound.

Here is an example of a general soundwalk, with no specific location in mind:

Soundwalk – Polymorphism
by Greg Bueno

If you are indoors, exit. If you are outdoors, remain so.
Choose west, but go south.
Walk till you find a spot where the trees do not obscure the sky. If you must deviate from south to reach this spot, do so. Remember that you have already chosen west.
Find a suitable place to sit. Optional: Remain standing.
Fix your gaze at a single point. Do not strain your eyes. Begin listening.
Count slowly to 23 or until you perceive the passage of one and a half minutes. Do not use a timepiece.
Note: You may fall short of that duration. Conversely, you may exceed it if you are distracted by thought. These outcomes are acceptable.
You may stop fixing your gaze. Continue to do so if it helps you to listen.
Identify the sound that captures your attention the most. You must not refer to this sound by its name. Until instructed to do so, refer to it as POLYMORPHISM.
Ignore POLYMORPHISM but keep it in your heart.
Resume listening.
As you continue to listen, take your pulse. Suggestion: You may find your pulse easier on your neck than on your wrist.
Do not listen to your pulse. Feel it instead.
Count slowly to 17 or until you perceive the passage of one minute and 15 seconds. Do not use a timepiece.
Reject POLYMORPHISM. Optional: Regret the act of rejection.
You may stop taking your pulse. Continue to do so if it enhances your experience of listening.
Resume listening.
Concentrate on a steady sound. Note your reaction to that steady sound.
Remember a time you should have felt sad but did not.
Concentrate on the steady sound again. Note whether the memory of the previous step affected your perception of the sound.
Resume listening for a length of time you perceive to be two minutes. Do not use a timepiece.
Acknowledge POLYMORPHISM has forgiven your rejection. Accept it back in your heart.
Hum to the pitch of the same steady sound on which you reflected about not feeling sad. Optional: Forgive yourself for not feeling sad.
Recall the original name of POLYMORPHISM.
Say the original name of POLYMORPHISM to the pitch of the steady sound.
Think the word POLYMORPHISM as you say its original name.
Stop at a comfortable interval.
Resume listening.
Go north, but choose east.
If you were indoors at the start of the piece, you may return there. Optional: Seek another destination.
You have concluded the piece.

I would like to see some general soundwalks if you have time to write one, but understand if a normal one is required.

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