The Sounds on the Bus

I am really delighted to have had a composition accepted for publication in the Closet Music Travel Pack.

Closet composition HUTCHISON-page-001

What is Closet Music? Concept originator Janet Oates explains:
‘I wanted to explore the imaginative capabilities of our aural sense: what can we imagine hearing? Can we only combine sounds in our mind if we can recall them clearly from real life? Can we imagine completely new sounds? How many sounds can we hear at one time? This is the basis of Closet Music: pieces written to provoke or inspire sounds in the imagination.’

The Closet Music concept excited me straight away: as a visual artist and composer I am drawn to projects which allow me to explore in parallel. We speak commonly of ‘visualising’, but the word ‘auralising’ is not in common use. Composer Pauline Oliveros addresses this in her essay Auralizing in the Sonosphere: Vocabulary for Inner Sound and Sounding: ‘Generally the word imagination is used with reference to all senses. Image of course is a visual term. So there is cognitive dissonance when using ‘imagination’ to refer to hearing or creating inner sound- for example a phrase of a new piece of music’ [1]
In the case of Closet Music, the medium of delivery is visual, so the word ‘Imagine’ becomes again appropriate, covering all the senses. I wished to remain aware of this when developing a way for my images to provoke sounds in ‘the mind’s ear’. I have used sketchy line drawings, inviting the viewer/performer to imagine first the materials and textures of the objects, and second, the sounds they might make, offering the visual images not simply as ‘illustration’ but as stepping stones to auralising as well as visualising.

My work and processes regularly explore the theme of ‘play’ and I combined this with the travel theme when creating my Closet Composition. The Sounds on the Bus invites you to remix a popular, playful song by conjuring up incongruous objects and imagining the sounds and scenes their physical presence would create on a bus. What is your polyhedron made of, and is it rolling around? Does another passenger pick up the airer and start twanging it like a guitar? Acknowledgements to fellow composer Alexander Fox (aged 12) for the humourous conversation which helped inspire this piece.

Update: The Sounds on the Bus was selected for inclusion in Closet Music: Imaginary Soundworlds, at The Proud Archivist, September 2015

[1] Oliveros, P. & Hall, L., 2010. Sounding the margins: collected writings 1992-2009, Kingston, NY: Deep Listening.