Acoustic World Atlas by Thomas Gerwin
Installation at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany

Produced by
Electronic Music Foundation

Ear to the Earth 2006
Global Mix

Thursday, October 12, 2006, 8pm
3ld Art & Technology Center
Greenwich Street

During the last decades of the 20th century, we came increasingly to view the world as a global village in which all of our lives are intertwined. That view generated a new approach to mapping the world in sound (as well as image) where all of the sounds of the world could be mixed, sampled, and heard within one composition. This concert presented several representations of that holistic view. John Cage's Williams Mix was the first musical composition to represent the whole world. Thomas Gerwin presented a new version of the Acoustic World Atlas. Robert Rowe devised an algorithm to read through the Freesound catalog of sounds from around the world. David Dunn created an imaginary ecology of sounds from around the world.

PROGRAM

Williams Mix ..............................................................................................................................John Cage

e-Scape No. 3.....................................................................................................................Thomas Gerwin

Freesound Mix.........................................................................................................................Robert Rowe

Driven Behaviors.......................................................................................................................David Dunn

ABOUT THE MUSIC

John Cage : Williams Mix
In 1951, John Cage and David Tudor, with financial support from their friend Paul Williams, launched the Project for Music for Magnetic Tape. Tape recorders had just become available and Cage was eager to explore their potential for music. Cage's Williams Mix, composed with assistance from Earle Brown, was finished in 1952. It was the prototypical world-at-a-glance composition, for which Cage, with the help of Louis and Bebe Barron, had collected a library of bits of tape cataloged as city sounds, country sounds, electronic sounds, manually-produced sounds, wind-produced sounds (including voice), and soft sounds requiring amplification to be heard. Selections from the library were chosen randomly and edited randomly and then placed in a succession according to a randomly-devised plan. Eight tracks were originally made, then eventually mixed down to one two-track tape.

Thomas Gerwin : e-Scape No. 3
"I am keen to merge, mix and counterpoint the wonderful sounds of the world which are part of the AWA instrument ..." The Acoustic World Atlas is an interactive sound installation that Thomas Gerwin created in 1997 for the Media Museum of the Center for Arts and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. It enables a performer to spontaneously access more than 200 pre-composed soundfiles from all over the world. In this way, AWA is both a compendium of the sounds of the world and a musical instrument at the same time. Gerwin will perform a new composition, created especially for Ear to the Earth.

Robert Rowe: Freesound Mix

"Freesound Mix is composed from live processing of sampled sounds submitted from designers around the world to the Freesound site in Barcelona, Spain. Contributors have been tagging samples for this performance over the preceding six months, and may well be doing so during the performance itself. Tagged samples are automatically downloaded from the site and blended into this mix, using effects processing, mixing, and synthesis techniques programmed by the composer. As such, the work represents the communal effort of all those contributors, who are submitting sounds that represent their sonic environment. The names and locations of contributors will be shown on a monitor as their samples appear in the mix."

David Dunn: Driven Behaviors

"Several years ago I spent time living on a houseboat deep into the Atchafalya Basin of Louisiana. Nights were spent making forays into the swamp to record continuous night sounds without interruption. One of the most striking features of this sound world was the abrupt transition between distinct collectives of sound makers. One group would hold center stage for hours and then suddenly fade to silence. Within minutes a whole new cast of sonic actors replaced them. The dynamic quality of these dense soundscapes, their abrupt transitions, and fantastic spatial motion, impressed upon me a sense that, beyond the communicative agenda of individual living sound generators, there was some underlying emergent logic at work to drive them into a global patterning. "