Another bright and sunny morning in Cootamundra. Prior to heading up to the farm we’d been advised that the wires had been ‘singing’ in the gully earlier and that conditions were very favourable for this trend to continue. However, by the time we’d walked up to the gully the wind had dropped to a peaceful calm prevailing over the valley with just the sound of distant birds and buzzing flies. As most the group had silenced themselves on the prospect of hearing something coming from the wires, it was a good opportunity to do some attentive listening. David had set of one of the monitoring/recording stations close to where some of us were sitting and we took some time listening in on the wire. Though (I am reasonably certain) I heard some very brief ‘singing’, all one heard through the headphones was a beautiful spacious drone with the occasional click and crackle of a nearby electric fence.
After lunch we spent the rest of the workshop discussing more ideas and strategies relating to the arranging and mixing of wire compositions. I was particularly interested in the idea of concepts in wire composition and asked David and Alan whether a conceptual approach factored into the process of planning, recording and composing with the wires. Whilst not ruling out this approach entirely, David and Alan’s mutual consensus was that a logical progression (i.e. following the music) was a preferred approach to conceptual frameworks. Alan suggested that his composition for film was an appropriate example of using a conceptual framework (as well as following an existing narrative and structure.)
Towards the end of the day we tested out a loudspeaker/polystyrene combo that functioned as a customised driver for the wires. On the Test Wire (which is located near the farmhouse) we put the driver and the wire to work – playing instruments through the driver, thus exciting the wire and generating an effect similar to a huge spring reverb and harmoniser. As I’d hoped, someone suggested that a feedback system be set up so that wire would essentially, feedback into itself. It was bloody marvelous…the richness and variation of the tone when it fell in and out of phase made a number of us rapturous and egged Dave on to take the amplifier and loudspeaker to their physical limit. The final pouring of feedback and its subsequent decay will last for awhile in my memory. Beautiful. If the heat generated by the loudspeaker and amplifier post-performance were any indication, you can imagine how loud things got. A perfect way to finish up the three-day workshop!
Saturday will bring a close to proceedings with the Wired Lab Open Day.
More images below.