the maze


The Maze           12:06

Exploring architectural space

…cold wind, echoing noise. A door leading out of a strange room with very high ceiling. I had no idea how I’d got there, my brain flooded with alien memories. Behind the walls all these noises… Nothing I felt at that moment could compare to what I experienced wandering through. I was not trying to get out. I sensed that the corridors I was walking down and the stairs I was climbing existed just for me, because of me! There for me to wander around in amazement and disbelief.

The piece reflects an important influence at the time, new spaces. I had just moved to Wales, living in halls of residence, then moving to a flat and always working in the Main Arts Building, the old university edifice. Corridors, windows, halls, lots of doors, utility rooms, staircases leading to an indefinite number of floors, inhabitable shapes, textures, colors and acoustics. The piece also incorporates other personal elements, real or imaginary, indoor sounds that had some importance in my everyday life and some outdoor sounds that signified transitions and special events – the maze as concept could accommodate a huge variety of materials. I made a piece about framed space, with continuous weird transitions from one type of room acoustic to the other through secret openings or acoustic and imagined optical illusions. The listener is on an adventure tour inside a magic dream labyrinth. Various recognizable objects are bubbling up from distant to very near, instrumental passages and abstract sounds are transforming into each other, warping in rhythm and threading through harmony.

 

I captured many hours of raw sound material in a number of settings:

a) In the Main Arts Building during the day and late at night.Playing around with the microphone I recorded footsteps, the wind through a window, leaves rattling on the glass, an elevator, a sink in the toilets, a fire alarm, the orchestra, students practicing instruments, the big concert organ, computer noises, doors and keys. b) My flat and in the halls of residence: kitchen, conversations, the phone, TV, words, laughter, objects falling on the floor, DIY drumming, bottle whistling… c) A tube station in London: kids screaming, people walking, train approaching, escalators. All these recordings were made with a portable DAT and a Sony ECM900 stereo microphone or with a portable MD and very cheap mics, which I happily stuck into the freezer, the drain, a frying pan or under the door. d) In the studio using an AKG large diaphragm condenser microphone: a small heater, knives and forks, sheets of paper falling on instruments, a metal lamp and a range of percussion. I made up additional material with an AKAI S5000 sampler, software synths and sound transformation tools and an electric guitar plus effect pedals. I also played some sounds over a speaker and re-recorded them while moving around with the microphone.

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Wind makes the windows rattle; it moves vortexes of particles and finally enters the Maze as the sound of a flute. There it plays with the reverb tail of a slamming door and becomes footsteps. We go through corridors and doors into the first room (ca. 3:16-4:33), the first place of resonance so to speak. After a sequence of spaces and appearances we come to an ‘Entering the TV’ section with nonsensical comments and a strange groove leading to the quiet room (7:47), with a fireplace, creaking floor, a blues solo in the background and the wind outside. The next section plays with the telephone, a siren and everything becomes rather stressful. From about 9:38 onward we have a sustained climax that leads to the final cadence. The whole piece consists basically of an exploratory section and a dramatic section cross-fading into each other during an extended more abstract pivotal sequence (6:20-8:35). The ‘lobby’ in the score is a particular sound space being revisited four times, after it is being established at ca 1:45. It and helps with the sense of unity in the piece, as a kind of all-connecting middle ground.

Shortlisted composer by SPNM 2001 with The Maze


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About stelios giannoulakis

composition, sound design, engineering, improvisation
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