Clarinoise!

a. Title and Overview:

Clarinoise.  This noise machine will incorporate a microphone and a speaker to amplify, delay, and distort the unintended sounds that the instrument makes.

b. Detailed Description:

Clarinets are designed to create a specific musical sound, but there are other by-product sounds that most people tune out and ignore.  These sounds include the metallic mechanisms rubbing against one another, the keys being depressed and lifted, and the action of the fingers on the tone holes of the clarinet.  I plan to isolate these sounds and create a unique noise from them.  The machine will be built upon an already existing model (a clarinet). I have an old clarinet with a resin body and nickel keys.  The mechanisms have been updated recently and it is in good working condition and therefore will provide an accurate model of a typical clarinet.  I will have a small microphone inserted in the clarinet in the middle of the instrument where it will be able to pick up the most noise.  I will also have a speaker in the clarinet that acts both as an output for the microphone and a sound source for the microphone to continue picking up sound.   The intent is for the clarinet to be held as a clarinet would traditionally be held, but for the sound to not be produced by the user’s air.  Instead, the user plays the keys of the clarinet and the microphone picks up the sound of the physical actions and amplifies them. These sounds are then transmitted to a program that delays and distorts them and plays them through a speaker, also in the clarinet.  The sound from the speaker will then be picked up from the microphone and become part of a continuous cycle of noise.  The intent is for the noise to be initially percussive and become its own culmination of percussive non-clarinet clarinet noise.   Viewers of this noise machine are more than encouraged to use the machine and play with it to create their own unique sound experiences.  It is meant to be an accessible instrument.  I find that my instrument as it is can seem rather inaccessible because people are afraid that the musical sound they try to create will sound “bad.”  This modified instrument will take away those inhibitions as it is based upon everything but the ideal sound that clarinet makes!  On display in Ellis Gallery, I imagine the piece to be sitting on a clarinet stand (I have several) ready to be picked up by the user.  I would be sure to include a short explanation and a “please touch” sign by the instrument.  Due to limitations of products and my personal programming experience, it may be necessary to have a computer connected to the noise machine as part of the display.   Another ideal place I could see this noise machine being used is in a composition itself.  The non-musical sounds a clarinet produces are often totally ignored, and incorporating a noise machine into a work would be a unique way of using a clarinet in a more holistic manner.

c. Influences:

1. First, an influence in the delay/feedback environment: http://vimeo.com/46326678  This is one of the first things we watched in class, and it inspired me to create a user-controlled noise machine.  I was originally inspired to create a larger environment like this, but lacked the appropriate space and resources.

2. Next, an influence in using unconventional sounds that an instrument creates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSoOSmWaco8.  This is a piece for unaccompanied saxophone that I had the opportunity to hear one of my professors play a few years ago.  It was a really captivating and interesting performance.  The saxophone is used in a way that creates a lot of percussive noises in addition to musical tones.

3. Last, an influence that Abby sent my way that inspired this whole project: http://vimeo.com/70406154.  I love that the clarinet can be played without the traditional air-produced sound. The clarinet in this example can still be played by the user – I think I will discourage this at least in the gallery setting for sanitary reasons.

d. Tools and Resources:

– Clarinet

-Microphone

-Speaker

-Computer with Max/MSP

e. Early experiments and research plan:

I will first experiment with different microphones to see what microphone is ideal (sound and size) and how microphone placement affects the sounds produced.  I will also research information on avoiding/controlling feedback and experiment with different setups that will create the ideal amount and type of feedback.  Once I have an ideal setup, I will begin experimentation with delay and other effects.

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