If Only (2021)
The sound design has been a vital element of the choreographic work. It was generated during the performance by sound designer Mike McCormick. Boundary microphones placed around the performance space captured specific sounds originating from the performers body. Voices, breath, the body in contact with surfaces were transported from their original context into sonic landscapes that highlighted the intricacies of the mundane, familiar, banal. The live nature of the sound design introduced an element of risk, uncertainty, spontaneity that created a heightened listening experience for both performers and the audience. A collection of speakers spread throughout the space allowed McCormick to diffuse, steer, and move the sound around the audience, creating an immersive auditory experience that connected closely with the performance and further engaged audiences in the work.
Our original plan involved using five handheld microphones with 30metre long xlr cables. We wanted to use microphones to highlight the voice, challenge the power that they had as an object, deconstructing the expectations of what will be said. Once we moved onto the stage, we realised that the acoustic voices of the performers didn’t need to be amplified. (Discussed further in the reflection.)
As McCormick was present in every rehearsal, he had insights into the choreographic material and understood the essence in what was being worked with choreographically and in language. The sound design employed a combination of synthesised sounds and manipulated recordings influenced directly by the text employed in the performance. After structuring the work into modules, we realised that the sound design played a vital role in how each module was perceived and understood. This discovery came after a rehearsal of Module:G-score together with supervisor Ingrid Berger Myhre, who suggested that we try to place two module after each other and do them twice with different explorations in the sound materials. When seeing the choreographic material with different sound examples after another, it became apparent that the sound needed asymmetry — if the beats became too close (like drone sounds) it created a heavy concentrated atmosphere that affected the playfulness of the performers in a negative way. However, with the asymmetrical sounds there were shifts, glitches and changes in the sound design that were complementary with the core value of the performance: creating unforeseeable specificity. This realisation came quite early in our production period, and gave us time to experiment and develop the specific sonic complexity that was integrated into the text and movement materials. The human voice was explored through digitally processed recordings, live input, and sounds created from its decomposition into its fundamental parts - pure sine tones and noise.
photo by: takumi morozumi
photo by: takumi morozumi
When working with the dramaturgy of the whole performance it was also important for us to weave materials together and facilitate a space for listening in the audience. Many interesting conversations arose about how the sound came into play with the movement and language material. How it moved through space. What power it had and how it added, supported or challenged the atmospheres being created. There were also discussions about to find the balance between giving the sound design space for impact, yet finding a balance so that the acoustic voices could be heard through McCormick's composition. An important quality of the sound design was that it didn’t override the acoustic voices and text material. We wanted to create an experience of the sound design being woven together with the text and movement— that all materials in function interacted equally. This core value affected our collaboration, resulting in close contact and open communication from early stages of the creative process. This approach tried to echo the democratic nature of the materials in the works.