sound tracks

An integral part of the docks, the railway tracks run along a large length of the harbourside in Spike Island, Bristol. We used contact microphone (AKG C411) to sample and explore the ‘hidden’ sounds that run through their length and typical X-Y stereo audio hand-recorder (ZOOM H6) to identify the percussive sonic identity in the free-field acoustic space of the railway tracks near their surrounding landscape.

The idea of exploring the harbourside railway tracks for the Building Instruments project emerged from working on an electroacoustic music composition for flute, cello, and live electronics, MiMAR (3rd movement): Gajah Menangis (the weeping elephant) commissioned for the Three Nation Concert (Korea-Singapore-Malaysia) project on August 2021 in collaboration with Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) and Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC).

The artistic research of the piece explores the Elephant vocalisation and bioacoustic signatures, which has led to an article on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) with acoustic intervention technology is used to avoid wild elephants from getting hit by trains in India. Following this, a Building Instrument soundscape installation will be developed from related observation and findings for artistic expression and sonic intervention.

Work In Progress: We will build a set of three wooden mallets with various attached head beater materials and programmed solenoids. These will be placed on the ground to play (hit) on selected railway track spots for different timbre and pitch. The scope of the soundscape installation event will be near the Spike Island MShed entrance building along the harbourside for inducing the ‘building resonance’ and other acoustical feedback based on listeners’ passing-by movements in the free-field space. Several sets of rhythmic phrases programmed in the microcontroller unit (MCU) will be performed by the solenoid mallets triggered by the RTC clock based on the venue visiting peak hour graph in google maps data for power saving. As for personal artistic expression, the four-bar rhythmic phrase collections will be based on simple to complex traditional authentic Malay and Proto-Malay musical rhythm identity as opposed to free-time or non-metric sound events.