We can envision multiple communication strategies to portray the rich sound dimensions of Ethiopia and its acoustic identities, but performance is doubtless the most emotionally engaging approach.
This piece that I conceived as a creative live act takes the form of an instant composition, employing field recordings and footage shot in Ethiopia, then elaborated in real time.
The project, in its outline, aims to explore and to communicate the different emotional dimensions a person can experience while visiting Addis Ababa, its markets, the suburbs, and the rural Ethiopian landscape as well. By superimposing different layers of soundtracks and using live electronics, it is possible to manipulate sound; sometimes even shaping it to a distortion level that makes its original form unrecognizable. The radical gesture of sound alteration wants to expand the evocative potential of ambient sounds, as well as to create a possible experimental synesthesia with the images.
Field recordings are used as source to be manipulated to discover new acoustic textures, but they are also conceived as original sound, pure, without any further handling. The overlaying of these two acoustic elements (original/modified sounds) generates specific aesthetics and triggers new correlations with the images.
The sound treatment is similar to what I describe in the chapter on “Soundscape Composition”, in this case though it relates with the rhythm and the aesthetics of the images.
Images and music coexist in a single communication flow – partly dominated by improvisation – which is shaped in real time according to different factors: the consumption mode, the location’s acoustic, and the viewers’ level of attention.
Considering the different relationships between sound and images, we can outline the following index:
- Original audio coinciding with the footage;
- Different source sounds, recorded in different locations and moments, not coinciding with the footage;
- Slowed down/accelerated sounds, synchronous with the footage editing;
- Slowed down/accelerated sounds, in contrast with the rhythm of the images;
- Chromatic transformations;
- Insertion of visual interferences in order to emphasize the urban chaos dimension.
The live execution will be influenced also by the different technical means used, such as computer technology and related controllers that create a precise “machine aesthetics”.
Images are “played” through controller devices (Lemur controller, knob, fader) that steer Resolume Arena software.
Sounds are performed and controlled with Ableton Live software, which is piloted by other controllers (keyboard, knob, fader).
Among the compositions methods I propose in the present dissertation, the live audio/video performance is the one that mostly is conditioned by the creative act, the execution mode, the relationship with the public, and the subjective perception of Ethiopian culture.