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The Impossible Planet (1997)

Digital music

Duration: 7'57"


      The idea of this work comes from the short story The Impossible Planet (1953) by Philip K. Dick (1928-1982). The story is set on Earth in a future time after a catastrophic event. The piece wants to recall, in a metaphorical sense, the description of the sounds in the landscape. The whole work is realized with the sound synthesis program Csound. I used only an original Csound instrument and a recorded sound of a female singing voice. This sound has been transformed, filtered and put in different locations in the stereophonic field. I used the voice after some experiments with different kinds of sound: the voice sounds, because of their characteristics, gave the effect I was searching for producing a wind simulation. To produce the wind effect the voice is stretched many times and the pitch is controlled by a random process. The spazialization has been obtained with the creation of a circular movement of sounds: if the higher frequencies of a sound are progressively eliminated one perceives the sound behind him. I used this technique to obtain a simulation of a wind coming from different directions. In my Csound instrument I have included the control of the number of sound rotations in the stereophonic field: when I have changed the number of sound rotations it has been possible to realize a dynamic sound movement. The structure of the piece is divided in two parts: the first, which is only one minute of length, is composed with no filtered sound. The second part is realized with filtered sounds and a large number of sound rotations. The filtered sounds comes from a bank of resonant filters. The second part is recognizable especially by the presence of a higher pitch of sounds, that is the result of using the bank of filters. Two different reverberation units have been used, one to transform sounds, the other for reverberation of the whole piece. The first used reverberation unit controls the decay of high frequencies in reverberated sounds. This parameter is controlled by a different function for each stereo channel. The second reverberation unit is used for simple reverberation. The goal of the piece was to obtain a dark sound, evoking a dead landscape: this was obtained especially with time stretching of the voice sound, using a particular Csound unit (soundwarp, by R. Karpen, 1992-97): it can stretch a sound and change its pitch at the same time. So the piece is realized with only a Csound orchestra: this is possible with the Csound powerful features.


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© 2001 Luca Pavan