Memories of an ambient impact

I recently found out about an Aphex Twin covers collection by Dave Graham that can be heard at PercussionLab: Selected Orchestral Works

When I was working as a sound designer in my college theatre I used some Aphex Twin and other ambient recordings as the pre-show music for a play called The Adding Machine. The play is basically about the fact we’re born, we work, we die, we’re reborn and have to start all over again–the drudgery of it all. There’s more to it than that, but that’s what really grabbed me as I considered how to create the atmosphere for the production using pre-show music. I’ve written more thoughts on the importance of that elsewhere, but this was really the first time I found a way to create a sense of space and meaning with sound in a way that felt meaningful and instantly appropriate to the text and the direction. And thankfully the director agreed!

I recall that I used Blue Calx (not in Dave’s set) and other Aphex material as well–perhaps some of this–not 100% sure. My idea was this sort of dripping water ticking clock like monotony would evoke the endless cycle–a constant pulse without beginning or end really. Boy, did that blow some people’s minds! I had so many people coming up to me demanding to know WHAT that music was.

One of the theatre students who had to run sound for the run of the show listened to my half hour or so aphex/ambient mix that started the show every night for about a week. His name is Tim Lee and he’s become a director. I’ve since done sound for over a dozen shows with him.

So Dave Graham’s lovely set takes me back to a pleasant point in time–when I first received what felt like meaningful public recognition for my music selection, not at a party, not on the radio, but in a theatrical setting–it was powerful. It obviously stayed with me. Thanks Dave!


2 Responses to “Memories of an ambient impact”

  1. Imagine you’d written the music.

  2. Stevie, this experience was one in series of events that inspired me and let me feel that I could compose music myself. Sound designing for me has been a path from finding the appropriate sounds for a particular context, to creating those sounds myself. I talk about that more in some of the other posts on this blog.

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