Cc: me

2012

 

sound composition by Tom Auger

Tom Auger’s Cc: me is an ambient electroacoustic composition commissioned for Elaine Whittaker’s Cc: me art installation. Inspired and informed by the theme of the installation, this piece plays with motifs of replication, generative degradation and “infection” while maintaining a static and arrhythmic quality throughout most of its 1 hour and 17 minute duration.

The compositional process involved recording and sampling a wide variety of source material, from found concrete recordings to synthesized virtual instruments to live instruments and voice. This source material was then processed and cloned, and the originals were then abandoned, leaving only the copies, with all the degradation and artifacts of the cloning process. This process was then repeated until the final audio tracks were mostly comprised of echoes and excerpts of the original material. A layer of digital artifacts was then introduced to portions of the piece to further complement the theme of “infection” that is at the core of the Cc: me installation.

The cello, and cello-like sonorities, feature prominently in the piece, particularly noticeable in the final climax around the hour mark. These elements are variously comprised of synthesized instruments, a studio recording of a processed, bowed fretless electric bass, and a brief sample of recorded music: the first three bars (54 notes) of Bach’s Suite No. 1 for Cello in G major, S. 1007. This last sample in its unprocessed form lasts merely 8 seconds, but was digitally time-stretched to over 10 minutes long (starting around the 47 minute mark), creating an eerie pedal ground that drives the piece harmonically toward its ultimate statement, where, for a brief moment of clarity (around 1:05), the original, unprocessed sample can be heard emerging from the polyphonic texture created by the overlapping of many layers of the same sample at various levels of time dilation.

The biggest compositional challenge of the piece was maintaining its static quality while evolving the thematic material to retain the listener’s engagement throughout the full duration. It will be up to the listener to determine whether this was successful. The majority of the piece is a heavily layered, highly textural sound cluster, interspersed with a few sparse moments of epiphany. Its richest moments are to be found in the interstices, between the overtones found within the acoustical landscape of fading reverb tails.

Biography

Toronto-based Tom Auger has been composing as a personal outlet since the mid-eighties. After ditching all his electronic music hardware in 2000, Tom has been experimenting with new ways to record and generate electroacoustic music, with varying degrees of success. His current process is a mixed media approach that combines live recording, traditional DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), virtual instruments, mobile devices, signal processing, found music and improvisation. Some might call it a "hodge-podge". They might not even be wrong.

His current work, commissioned for Elaine Whittaker's Cc: me installation, explores the process of discovering texture and harmony through the recursive duplication, dissection and distillation of found audio sources, synthesized soundscapes and recorded acoustical performance. Making heavy use of multiband equalizer tuning and spectral analysis, Tom manipulates and isolates audio material to suppress and enhance secondary and tertiary harmonics in order to unwrap and expose new material hidden and interwoven within the source texture.