Aeolis – A Virtual Instrument Producing Pitched Tones With Soundscape Timbres

Arbel, L. (2021). Aeolis: A Virtual Instrument Producing Pitched Tones With Soundscape Timbres. In NIME 2021.

Till the 1970s only a few sound artists and musicians paid attention to sounds that are constantly produced by nature. Because of the work of Pierre Schaeffer (The World Soundscape Project – 1969) artists started to use sounds made by our environment for experimental and artistic purposes. Intentionally made sounds and melodies (= Anthropophony) made by humans are not the only sounds that affect people´s feelings. The wide variety of sounds that nature provides are also altering emotions. Sounds can be made by a singing bird (Biophony), or just by the wind that moves some leaves over the street (Geophony). I believe that sound gets its relevance from the context between itself and the space it is embedded in. Sounds can be either limited by time or completely separated from it – but it can somehow never be separated from a physical space.

By recording soundscapes sound artists unintentionally also take a snapshot of the space. By listening to the soundscape people try to imagine the place where the sounds might have been recorded. As a soundscape artist, you kidnap your listeners to another alternate place. So people can get amazed by the pure form of the recorded soundscape. It´s upon the artist how and how much he processes the audio for artistic purposes. More processing does not necessarily mean more pleasure for the human ears. In my opinion, the way Aeolis designed his filters for the subtractive synthesis is very interesting and unique. Even though the real-time visuals are part of his art, Aeolis takes his listeners in a different sphere by altering the recorded sounds in his own way. Aeolis designed his filters in certain way that the listeners are still able to hear the parts of the original and unprocessed audio – this is where the magic happens. In the future, I would like to hear which soundscapes in combination with his subtractive synthesis can sound more musical.
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