In this new guest blogging series “Sound +”, Laura Haapio-Kirk will discuss why sound is important and what it means to different professionals in various “sound-focused” industries. This week, her focus is on “Sound + Technology”.
Advances in technology have completely changed the way that we create and consume sound. You only have to look at the wealth of talent on SoundCloud to see that sound is now truly a medium of expression for all. Everyone carries a microphone in their pocket in the form of their mobile and editing software is more accessible than ever.
Sound creators have an almost overwhelming array of new technology to work with. Björk’s Biophilia tour was packed with covetable technology, including the Reactable (pictured) – a tangible music maker controlled by moving objects on its surface. But it is not only experienced musicians that benefit from technological innovation. Currently in pre-production, the gTar with its light-up fretboard and iPhone dock can be picked up and played by anyone regardless of experience. In this second installment of the Sound Series videos we ask sound experts including Moby, Imogen Heap and Julian Treasure about their relationships with technology.
A fascinating form of sound technology that has been about for over 100 years but has recently experienced a resurgence is binaural recording. Sounds are recorded using microphones arranged so as to produce 3D renderings of a soundscape. Listening to a binaural recording immerses you in an environment built of sound. Jon McLeod is a London-based playwright and sound designer whose most recent play, titled ‘Organs of Little Apparent Importance’, puts the audience inside the head of the main character. Listen to Jon talk about binaural recording and how it can add a new dimension to theatre. The clip is accompanied by binaural sounds recorded by Jon and a trailer for the play. If you have ever been to an English seaside town you may recognise some of the distinctive soundscapes! Headphones recommended for the true binaural experience.
I recently went to Music Hack Paris, organised by the Google Cultural Institute and Joshfire. It was an intense weekend of hacking, jamming and impressive innovation! One of the participants, Bruno Verbrugghe, was there with a new invention called the Dualo – an accordion-like instrument designed with a completely new key layout to make learning and playing music easier. Here is Bruno discussing the instrument and how technology can free us from traditional constraints.
I also spoke with Nicholas Charriere about his project – a fun app for musical collaboration with friends called Friendly Loops. Hear more about the project and how technology and sound bring people together.
This is an exciting time to be working with sound simply because of the sheer amount of innovation in technology. There’s no excuse not to share your own sounds on SoundCloud!
Thanks to all interviewed! Also to Steren Giannini at Joshfire and other participants of Music Hack Paris whose sounds are featured.