Electric Guichair

Electric Guichair (2004) 6’
sound collage

Premiered at the Unitarian Church, Dublin. December
2008.

Programme Note

There are just two sound sources for this piece of electronic music.

1.
A recording of the many different sounds that can be produced from the
marvellously musical squeaky chair in room B4 of the Guildhall School of
Music & Drama. To produce the sounds both myself and Dr. Nye Parry
took turns in getting the best noises we could out of the chair, mostly
by sitting on it and moving it around vigorously. An extraordinary
amount of sounds and rhythms were thus produced. Nye was particularly
good at getting good noises from the chair. At one point in the
recording he whispered ‘No one can make this chair squeak as well as I
can!’. I ended up using this quote at the beginning of the piece.

2.
The second sound source was an improvised recording I made using my
Fender Telecaster guitar played through a Boss ME-30 effects processor. I
treated the guitar in an unconventional way by avoiding standard guitar
playing techniques. Some of the things I did included creating feedback
and humming by unplugging the guitar lead and using the leads input
jack as the sound producer. Pressing the top of the input jack produces a
hum. I got various different sounds by switching between effects while
improvising with different tapped rhythms and held notes on the input
jack. I also used an E-Bow on the strings, with the jack plugged in. The
E-Bow infinitely sustains a string and when it is moved over a guitar
pick-up it creates a zipping noise. This can be heard towards the end of
the piece where I have multi-tracked four E-Bow guitar parts.

I
then took these recordings and found musically interesting sections to
use for the composition. The software I used was Cakewalk Pro Audio9 and
Cool Edit Pro. There were many different effects I used to manipulate
the sounds such as delay, reverb, noise/hiss reduction, various graphic
and parametric equalisers, pitch shifting, modulation, audio stretching
and reduction, normalisation, fading envelopes etc.