[full Studies In Static]
To speak about the different species of spectral composition (sonic, gestural, metanoic) requires a language of sound as shape. In Basic Building Blocks 1, I began the idea of a descriptive language of sound that is gestural, architectural, shape based. W e looked at circles and squares, in outline and filled in. The idea is to become familiar with conceptualizing sound not as a harmonic progression, or as a series of notes, but as shapes in space. Objects unfolding in time.
My understanding of Spectral Composition is very sculptural. The manipulation of a sonic material. That material is Static. Noise. So I see a line - and I don't mean 'see', I mean 'apperceive'. Or whatever. I certainly don't mean 'hear' - a line is a very small filter on static. Think of rolling out a piece of play-dough until it is as thin as a filament. What is the sonic equivalent of that action? How to 'roll out' sound into a thin filament. In Flatland, we learn that a Line is the Point in motion (unawares - as we all are). I start to write about that, here...
In these early Studies, amplitude is binary. Later, amplitude will play an important role, when we consider how to subtract one spectrographic shape from another. For now, it is either loud or soft. The value is irrelavant, and can be removed from consideration - as long as it is constant.
A vertical line , a sine wave turned 90 derees, is a burst a full spectrum activity...what we have been calling noise. The vertical line is also the first side of a square.
I mentioned Square Dance, a piece made up entirely of different sized and filled squares in the spectrum. Another piece is "Sticks and Stones", made up of lines and balls. Because of the line, the temporal relationship is exactly clear. It is the visualisation that makes this evolving relationship between the stick and the stone.
I use Photosounder and Sonic Visualiser. I haven't written yet but will in detail on the implications behind even something as straightfoward as deciding what the scale of the axis will be (time or frequency).
The visual relationships between objects is like the language of counterpoint. Instead of refering to themes and statements, I can say things like 'the ball is rolling along the line'. Each iteration is like a page in a flip book. Objects, 'moving' in relationship to each other.
This reminds me of how I composed the first movement of my second string quartet. Here's a picture of the sketch used to figure out the relationships between each instrument.
Each instrument has a set of melodic material which increases or decreases in length by each iteration. The sketch here shows roughly the middle third of the boxes used to calculate duration: shaded boxes represent silence . Each box is set in millimeters, each millimeter representing a 16th note duration.
The fundamental disclosure of the spectrographic line is that width is duration. Distance is time.
The width of a line is important, because the width of the line represents the frequency bandwidth. So there's a mapping between the pixel size of the line, and the window of Fourier analysis.
However,the essential characteristic of the line is it's length. The simplest form of the line is a sine wave. A line is defined by it's length, a sine wave by frequency and duration. It is the purest fundamental, this line that waits for vibration to evolve in to complexity.