Making Music out of Mountains

On June 7th, the first day of the York Festival of Ideas, we setup in the courtyard of the King’s Manor in the centre of the city of York to perform some of the creations of the previous day in “Making Music out of Mountains”. The event was supported by the York Festival of Ideas. Here we talked about the idea of representing deep geological time in musical forms, we illustrated deep time in a walk across the courtyard, we performed ‘Crystal impressions’ with a background drone which changed according to geological time constraints and we performed an audio landscape of geological sonification in an audio landscape, encouraging audience member to wander among the shifting sounds of volcanoes, granites and sedimentary basins. An article summarises the event here. Thanks to Ben Eyes, Hugo Janacek and a very engaged audience.

[photos to be added shortly]

On June 8th a second day of “Making Music out of Mountains” was an indoor event in a lecture theatre. Here we used visuals to illustrate geological deep time. Then we performed ‘Crystal impressions’ with advancing images of crystal forms. We talked about sonification and how the geological data was turned into several soundtracks and then performed these. Supriya Nagarajan added a new dimension to this day’s event with a talk and performance of rhythmic ‘bowl’ music inspired from sounds of the Earth.

Overall we were impressed with audience questions and thoroughly enjoyed this foray into exploration of sounds relating to geological processes and time.

Exploration Day success

June 2016 saw the start of collaborative work and live performances as well as establishment of the Eonsounds collective of talented contributors. [names to follow shortly]

On June 6th musicians, composers, sound technologists and geologist met at the Rymer Auditorium (University of York) to brainstorm methodologies for generating geology based music. The symposium was funded by the Humanities Research Group at University of York. The day started with introductory talks from Dr Tim Ivanic on the geology behind the idea and the nature of the data available, Dr Jude Brereton on sonification and its many uses. James Cave followed with more on the conception of the project and his experience with the time cycles and rhythmic methods of Indian classical music. Dr Carina Fearnley then shared her experiences with  multidisciplinary projects relating the public understanding of geoscience.

The participants were then allowed to form groups whereby ideas were allowed to come to the fore and spawn into new musical directions. Two main paths were explored:firstly, direct data sonification utilised chronological data from ancient rocks which were turned into sound by MAX software based on age, rock type and location information. The second line of enquiry was perhaps more abstract in that it was grounded on the essence of rock formation itself. Here, images of crystals were used as graphical notation so that improvisers could glean inspiration for the crystallization events through vast geological time and a second improviser was used to echo this motif, indicative of the longevity and future influence of strata of rock.