Saturday, October 16, 2010

anD i wenT to tHis poeT / fillinG puffs

two more improvisations using pre-recorded excerpts of songs/pieces/field recordings.

this is continuing play from last time. as i remarked to marian, maybe they are more 'significant' in the making of them than to the listener, as i have the history of the making of the songs / recordings etched in my physical/aural memory whereas a first-time listener is receiving them as they are - a new 'meaningless' whole.

the first track also includes portions of vaitoa's latest piece 'the land of fun-ness'.

AnD i wEnt to thIs poeT2 by christinewhite

i have been listening to hinemoana's sketches from her 'work in progress' presentation in iowa. she has also been experimenting with the recontextualising of text and sound recordings and inviting the listener to consider the sounds of words over their meaning. you can listen to them here.

it seems that we are experimenting in similar areas - albeit from opposite sides of the world.

i still have some difficulty with wondering how the work i'm doing would be received - or, how to present it in such a way that it isn't just jumble. i mean anyone can randomly put things together can't they? as john cage once said in response to "anyone could do this work"....'yeah, but they don't'.

what makes this kind of improvisation (or any improvisation for that matter) good? we can all appreciate a guitar solo - in some ways because of the skill of the player, and because our ears have been trained to appreciate the licks, the references being made in a solo that draws on years of the foundations for blues, jazz and rock.

how do we integrate improvisations such as these sketches i have here? well - i'm gonna continue to go with the theory that, in the space of a performance, where song snippets are introduced and then re-introduced, the listener can feel that they are on the same journey.

fillinG puffs includes snippets from my two minute sketch songs - powder puff and filling up.

FillinG puFfs by christinewhite

sexy appliances includes powder puff, filling up and casio from vaitoa's piece 'the land of fun-ness'

Sexy appliAnces by christinewhite

and...some photos just coz we like pretty pictures :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

fiL...l1nG uP the {drEamy} heaTer

today i have continued orienting myself in gleetchlab for the purpose of learning how to improvise with recordings.

i'm looking for a new way of making music that feels ignites me. this is taking the form, so far, of a combination of song sketches (2 minute improvised 'songs'), field recordings and sounds from the workbench instrument. i have a sense that, if i were to offer music in a live performance context, i want to combine these in a greater 'arc' of story/song/sound.

i was inspired by a jane siberry concert hinemoana and i went to - in fact - we were able to go to two within a week which was great because we were able to see the extent to which she drew on her song/story material in different ways to create a 'greater whole' - a large story which was 'the concert' and was comprised of the smaller stories we could call 'her songs'.

i haven't known what these 2 minute sketch songs have been about apart from feeling like a case of writer's block ("what - you can't even stay the distance to finish a whole song anymore"?). but now i have a sense of wanting to play with them like cogs of a wheel - sticking different parts together to see how they work.

this what today's play has been about - i have used a guitar improvisation, a recording of the heater, and components of the two minute sketch called filling up.

i look forward to combining more than one song to see what eventuates - i just need to prepare the separate tracks.

for now i have these sketch examples:

1210 fillup sketch1 by christinewhite

ps. these were crudely recorded back through the speakers, still haven't refined this part of the process. good though as the birds decided to join in with this one.

1210 fillup sketch2 by christinewhite

1210 fillup sketch3 by christinewhite

Friday, October 1, 2010

sounds from my neighbourhood - the water tower

the water tower is on a hill at the back of a reserve behind our house. it's pretty much completely made of concrete but i took a contact mic to see what i could find.


a series of pipes run around the perimetre of the tower. i chose one and began tapping it - it has amazing overtones and a long sustain. the pipe itself doesn't make any sound, it's only when it's activated you get to hear the sounds travelling through it.

the first sound is from me scraping the outside of the pipe with my hands.

Pipe 2 by christinewhite

this sound is from circling the inside of the pipe with a stick.

Pipe 3 by christinewhite

steel casing

further around the water tower was the main stairwell to the top. at the base of the stair structure was a metal guard with a steel box mounted on it housing a padlock.

i had a lot of fun with this structure, running the back of a cello bow over it.

Steel box by christinewhite

i also placed the box inside the cavity of the box casing and moved it over the surface. this created a breath-like timbre with tonal changes.

Inside steel box by christinewhite

i was also able to pull a metal sheet around the casing which reverberated through it. this recording is complete with text message (DM tweet) from my partner Hinemoana in the wild west of wyoming.

Rattling the steel by christinewhite

Sunday, September 26, 2010

when flames become music... i'm using a title here which references steve roden's airform archives (one of my favourite sites).

today i decided to continue with the original heater recording - to explore the recording further as visual artists do with sketches - different angles, colours, materials.

which lead me to thinking about graphic score, in particular the meshing of what we see with what we hear. this was fuelled in part by the photographic scores of jez riley french and the recent writings of steve roden, particularly his post when sounds become drawings

i have been wanting to familiarise myself a bit more with the gleetchlab programme i have. gleetchlab allows realtime processing of sound. i decided to have a play with some of the DSPs available in gleetchlab and started with spectrfilter.

spectrafilter is a 128 band eq. using the flame photo as a graphic score, i manipulated the spectra by attempting to simulate graphically the shape of the flames in the photo. the result was as follows:

and the sound result...

Heater132 spectrafilter by christinewhite

next i decided to play with the mephisto which is described as a 'step sequenced delay with down sample'. once again i chose the parameters based on a visual comparison with the flame photo.

the sound result is as follows:

Heater132 mephisto by christinewhite

i was on a fun roll by now so next i loaded another heater recording and eq'd it again according to the graphic. this time i was able to have two heater recordings with flat eq and one with flame-eq - this replicated the flame and the gold bars of the heater.

ok so i needed three gold bars on top and two on the bottom...i was having too much fun to check!

i added two more affects for fun - one was a reversing of this particular heater recording, and the other was a stutter affect. the stutter affect may have been overused - it had no direct graphical reference to the 'score' it was my intuitive addition and i told myself it reminded me of the crackings of a natural fire.

what remained was to choose what parameters were used when - and this was largely intuitive at this stage as i was getting my head around using the application. so here is a demo excerpt and the final screenshots. listening back now it prob needs some smoothing out on the ears - mixing not being my strong point...but it is a starting place for me in exploring place and sound and integrating them somehow.

way over in there heat(her) by christinewhite

Saturday, September 25, 2010

house study 132 - heater

having now moved from a bach-style cottage-on-a-hill to a modernised bungalow on the flat, i am beginning a series of sound studies for our new home...and it begins with the gas heater.

i actually became aware of some beautiful heater drones the day after World Listening Day (18 July 2010). my partner hinemoana's new poetry book 'koiwi koiwi' was launched on World Listening Day - it has some pretty amazing sound imagery coincidentally. you can find out more about it here.

anyways, i got pretty crook that night (not self inflicted no) and so the next morning was partially spent lying on the floor in the lounge recovering. in rest and stillness we can often hear sounds we otherwise wouldn't, and it was in this state that the heater came alive for me. it possibly was made all the more present because my head was resting on the wooden floor and so the drones of the heater travelled from the floor and in through the bones of my head.

on that particular day it was very calming.

so, with homemade contact mic in tow, i have now recorded the heater. my flatmate marian commented that it sounds like a whole haunted house is residing in there...we could hear metallic booms and banging that aren't always obvious in the living room or that otherwise sound like small creaks. i also particularly love the overtones when the fan is on.

i have added some eq to try and minimise the static sounds and tones which seem to be part and parcel of the homemade contact mic set-up i use.

some sounds are of me lifting the cover to turn on/off the fan or to turn the heater up. it's a right playground.

a whole world right there in the heater.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

more sonic creatures....

sonic creatures emerged from the subliminal minds and object-play of a group of volunteers (mainly guitar students). each person was asked to choose three objects that appealed to them for any particular reason. they were then to create sound combinations from these objects, which were recorded (and in some cases manipulated) to reveal a sonic creature. immediately after the object-play and before the final creature sound was revealed to them, the participants were asked to name and describe the creature.

these recordings are some more of the results...


Pinikusball musicato



Blubba Bubba

for notes re: the development of the sonic creature idea read here

Sunday, September 12, 2010

filling up - improvisational songwriting

finally a stretch of time for some sound-making but what it was to be i didn't know....turned out to be another sketch-song. seems to be a bit of a project of mine - to create short songs as improvisationally as i can - as few recording takes as possible. the idea is to come up with something and to record without working out structure or nailing down the part.

this song ended up being just under two minutes long with three guitar parts and three vocals.

i am still sometimes a bit at odds with myself as to why i do these sketches. am i not brave enough or disciplined enough or clever enough to develop a 'piece of substance' ever again? at times i feel torn between music-making, song-writing and, now, sonic art or much to do so little time. if left to their own devices, these pulling thoughts can create havoc with the self esteem.

but there are other reasons to do these sketch-songs that are more about running towards than running away from something. they bring out a type of play which allows for synchronicities and for the working of subconscious which, i guess is what i need when feeling back at the beginnings of making.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ross Bolleter

whilst out one day catching up with myself and wandering through the tributaries of the internet, i happened upon Ross Bolleter and his ruined pianos. Marvellous!

I discovered Ross and the ruined pianos from the video post below (thanks to Everyday Listening):

the excerpt about Ross occurs at 3'30". once again it caught my eye because of the interplay between sound, music-making and site - the 'landscape' of the music-making object and its subjectiveness to time and environment. how this music-making is truly linked to the physical context it appears in - the extent and possibilities provided by nature's tunings and the responsiveness of the improviser to this. unique music-making from unique materials.


Each Ruined Piano is utterly unique with respect to action and tuning (if we can talk of tuning at all). An F# one and a half octaves above middle C on a West Australian Ruined Piano in a semi-desert environment differs radically from the same note on a flooded piano in a studio four floors below pavement level in Prague.

A Ruined Piano has its frame and cabinet more or less intact, (even though the soundboard is cracked wide open, with the blue sky shining through) so that it can be played in the ordinary way. By contrast, a Devastated Piano is usually played in a crouched or lying position.

A piano judiciously left in the open and exposed to all weathers will ruin. All that fine nineteenth-century European craftmanship, all the damp and unrequited loves of Schumann, Brahms and Chopin dry out, degrading to a heap of rotten wood and rusting wire. The piano returns to aboriginality, goes back to the earth where the chirrup of its loose wires blown about by the desert Easterly is almost indistinguishable from the cicadas’ long electric blurt.

However, it’s not necessary (or desirable) to burn, drown or bury a piano in order to ruin it. A Ruined Piano should ideally be an object trouvé – and be played as found.

ROSS BOLLETER from The Well Weathered Piano (WARPS Publications, 2005) as cited on Modisti

an excerpt from the album is found on the above link - i am getting this album! beautiful sounds.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

long time no hear...

well, it has been such an incredibly long time since i have appeared here - it was getting more difficult to do so - but here i am - if only to say hi and start again.

i moved house about a month ago which took me out of routine for a few weeks, but for some reason, this feeling of displacement, busyness-with-nothing-really-to-show-for-it, a feeling of over-emphasis on house/domestic/practical matters etc etc has just continued to elongate! i finally need to stomp it on the head and try and find some semblance of interest in the things i were interested in and involved with - if only to regain sanity!

and - so it seems - combining strange sounds and making little non-consequential movies still seems to reign. the movie below was the culmination of an improvised sound-play session combined with an attempt at small movie-making which combines my love of origami with my budget/material capabilities. hopefully this play and more like it will give formation to a larger piece - but for now this is it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

crude awakening

this piece crude awakening was performed by chris black and myself in 2008 as part of our sonic arts studies at victoria university. the piece utilised radio static and a speaker chain whereby contact mics attached to speakers picked up sounds from speaker boxes and transmitted them to other set of speakers - this altered the sound as it traveled through the chain.

we also utilised contact mics picking up the sounds of guitar strings and wires being shaken and then further processed. we also placed a speaker against a shower bath, picking up this altered sound using additional contact mics on the bath. there was also an old operation game used.

a high point of the performance occured when chris sawed into a speaker - wot fun!

both chris and i loved the raw sounds generated using these materials. this was probably one of my favourite performances throughout the study period. i also thoroughly love working with chris. we did a larger version of this idea using the fixtures and fittings of the adam art gallery which i will post at some stage.

Monday, May 3, 2010

i wanna go home

this is another intuitive composition by my guitar student Vaitoa. i continue to enjoy this process of immediate composition - and who better to explore this with than Vaitoa. Vaitoa had a play with slide guitar and recorded two parts one after the other. he then sang freestyle over the guitar parts - the resulting song was i wanna go home.

we then made a home movie separate from the song and then placed the song with the visuals. the video begins with an improvised dialogue which beautifully leads into the theme of the song.

Monday, April 26, 2010

sound of the day - blind wanderings

well, i was sitting here listening to the backyard compositions of tristan and sebastian when i heard a backyard sound of my own - a kind of knocking and scraping that sounded like it was coming from the backdoor. it was a little unnerving actually as my mind went through all the possible known sounds of the house and tried to ascertain what it might be. the cat doesn't usually knock or scrape at the back door - no it's not him as he is right now staring at me through the front window. the only thing left was to investigate. upon opening the backdoor this is what i found

landscape as musical score - playing the backyard

a fantastic project in line with my house study beginnings - this live improvisation by tristan louth-robins and sebastian tomczak using field recordings from their backyards. the material was processed in real-time using ableton live/plogue bidule.

more information about the work can be found on disquiet and tristan's blog. sebastian also has a blog here

Saturday, April 24, 2010


this is an excerpt from one of the compositions i completed last year during my studies. it is composed from the recorded and processed sounds of chocolate factory machinery.

Monday, April 19, 2010

typhanee spotted in the u.s.a

this drawing was sent by tim from buck creek, u.s.a in response to the sonic creature recording of the typhanee (see below). it was very exciting to receive this from the other side of the world via postcrossing. a very delightful animal and a great description. thanks tim.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


the continuing postings of sonic creatures. these are sound creatures which were made in collaboration with various people. they were asked to intuitively choose three objects and explore their combined sound-making potentials. the creatures were then named and described. i enjoyed this intuitive and organic way of working - some of the sounds were processed by me and i still question this intervention but it was how i felt at the time.

more can be read about the process that led to the sonic creatures here

i am looking forward to collecting more drawings of the creatures based on their sounds. so introducing the typhanee.

the typhanee was created by Caitlin. she used a wine glass with items inside and a spinning top. the resultant animal sounds include sound processing.

Flyus Crackius gallery

the flyus crackius as interpreted by vaitoa - a whole storyboard in fact. i continue to marvel at the genius and creative playfulness of people like vaitoa. he has even added a new creature to complete the sonic wonderland - the beaver lizerd. it includes male and female iterations of the species, stray penguin, and what look like mangled fish.

rather excitedly, i played him the next creature - the typhanee - only for him to say, 'oh i know that one - that's a small mammal'.

you can listen to the flyus crackius here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

house study - deck

introducing maverick the sonic wonder cat - otherwise known as mav the pav, mav the rick, mr fluffy trousers, mr F.T.Rousers, black and white guy...need i go on.

sonic explorations of the house continue with recordings from the deck. in keeping with the sonic recipes of The Domestic Soundscape, i include here the ingredients for this kind of sound-making:

1 deck
1 cat
2 guitar strings tied to the deck
1 bowling ball
several ping pong balls (to taste)
1 small rock
1 metal magazine rack
1 oven grill (of course)
2 contact mics
1 zoom recorder

we set about playing to explore the deck with the above materials...mav specialised in experimenting with the guitar string, i rolled the bowling ball around and bounced/rolled ping pong balls.

here are the results:

The Long Playing Version

deck play1

deck play2

Sunday, March 7, 2010

house study - stairs

this has been my most favourite house ever lived in
. it is a quirky bach-cottage perched on a hill in the seaside village of paekakariki. we have been here four years but it is nearing time to move - we need somewhere a little more roomy and a little more modern - at least where the cold drafts don't come through in the winter-time, even though my old flameshell heater has done a stirling job up until now. there are many things i have loved about this house and i figured it was time to keep some of the sights and sounds of it in memory...beginning as one cannot help but do with the creaky stairs...

the stairs up lead to the one room on high which looks over the ocean vista. the stairs down (only two) lead to the front room. as with all stairs, there are the ever-present creaky be avoided when trying not to wake the sleepers! many a dark creaky-creep has been attempted...

the beginnings of my sound studies here are rough and ready as i get used to this process and getting the best recordings possible. home made contact mics through the M-box and maybe should have used line channel instead of mic as a lot of noise but maybe this is the nature of the grassroots approach...

anyhow - stairs 1


Monday, February 22, 2010

Sound of the day

...whilst on the treadmill at the gym i happened to catch live transmission of the landing of the's a distant memory now...but beautiful night footage - the appearance of a shape in the sky...the cockpit views of the approaching runway lights as touchdown immanent...why is it our ears can't retain memory the same way our eyes can - i can recall many versions of the visual - the graphite-type black and white sketch of night vision, the high definition lights against black, the glowing fire from off the tail...all i can now remember from the sound was the invigorating sense of a powerful drone and a flanging type affect of the sound...maybe i can find it on youtube to help me remember. i remember more the feeling the sound gave me than the sound itself...aaah yes here it is.

humans are so clever - sending mass machinery out into the nether regions of space and then guiding it back to a specific line of lights with pinpoint accuracy.

as i marveled at this i accidently hit the emergency stop button on the treadmill and cut short my run.

oh well.

Monday, February 15, 2010

you can believe in the sky

this is an intuitive composition made by Vaitoa Mallon (7yrs). i love working with spontaneous, immediate composition - everything here was done on the fly...appearing for the first time in the course of the recording.

while listening back to this i made the drawing above using my non-dominant hand and with my eyes closed - a companion piece.

thank you Vaitoa for this wonderful piece and for your permission to share it here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

on finding the play in the everyday...

i must admit - apart from serious delusional episondes of grandeur, i have always been drawn to the idea of play - of making games, adventures, tasks...finding beauty and opportunity to combine, connect, and create using the experiences, discoverings and happenings of the everyday.

my how this impulse can be flattened or worse, damaged - through the need to 'get a real life, a real job, a real *fill in the blank here*.

and yet somewhere down deep - this impulse has been calling...right now...having finished my honours year in sonic arts composition, and needing to regroup from the awesome input from that - as well as needing to earn a crust...i am finding once again these impulses surfacing as if a call to undertake a simple discipline - that of engaging with my everyday - no matter how repetitive or mundane it seems...

this impulse is definitely being fuelled by three blogs i have been following closely - the domestic soundscape, treasure hiding, and airform archives.

i am sure that as i engage with the little ideas that come to i listen to these resonances and allow them to surface, i will find my own playful and creative voice and a place in the world as these above have done for me. thanks to them and the many others who inhabit the world in this way.

i was given a timely unlined book for my birthday - with pen in hand i drew this the next day...have recently been to the yayoi kusama exhibition in wellington so this may have informed the style - she was amazing!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


this is raw field recording footage from our trip to banks peninsula last year. we visited the okains bay maori and colonial museum - a fascinating place which contained a vast array of maori and pakeha artifacts from colonial times...masses of items gathered in several rooms - arranged curiously in a cross between a museum and a crazed collector's shed. the wonderful array was spiced up by the fact that we felt as though we were miles from anywhere...near the sea... with a welcoming young host who played guitar at various points around the place...accompanied by the sheep who were hanging around in the field just near the back door of one of the gallery rural new zealand.

the baa recordings are a gift for felicity of the domestic soundscape fame as she has a penchant for sheep.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

musical cats

aaah....the sing-song of hungry cats dueting with a swinging door - i have to say, i love the sounds of swinging gates and doors and so do, obviously, these cats. accompanied by jellicle-swing-thing pic because i can.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Hinemoana gave me the TILT task some time ago of creating a self has been hectic of late and the internal landscape has undergone some kind of upheaval...of the kind where, as with the weather, tidal changes and earth movements, it can be difficult to trace where it all began and day, it all just as mysteriously reverts back to something recogniseable...

that hasn't quite happened here yet - but i took the opportunity to take a current snapshot of the self.

1. take paper - fold numerous times
2. take drawing apparatus and lay out
3. with eyes closed - draw
4. unfold the paper

the drawing was made to the sounds of the Tim Olive/Francisco Meirino album Eagle Keys. as i compile this i am listening to Phil Niblock Ghost and Others.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

listening to...

Tunguska by 833-45: music predominantly using short-wave radio signal. great sounds - i personally like the ambient, noise only tracks without the addition of beats but that seems to be me right now....

30mins later...

...having said that i do like Pools of Goliath...the rhythm/noise ratio sitting right - phenomenal powerhouse of noise and beat!

also...Green Field Recordings has launched its inaugural releases. Green Field Recordings is a Portugese netlabel which focuses on field recordings. the first two are
MZ-N710 | Paysages Imaginaires 5 and François Emmanuel Fodéré | Hampi.