PACIFIC (1990)

for four digital soundtracks

I. Ocean
II. Fog
III. Harbour
IV. Dragon


PACIFIC is where water covers a third of the earth's surface.
PACIFIC is where volcanoes encircle a vast ocean.
PACIFIC is where the Western flow of culture meets its Eastern face.
PACIFIC is the new centre of an old consciousness.


The work is in four movements:
Ocean in whose deep currents one hears the voices of the unborn.
Fog in whose caress one hears the voices of lovers.
Harbour in whose cries one hears the voices of the old and wise.
Dragon in whose fiery breath one hears the voices of the dead.

The source materials, one sequence for each movement, are recordings of Canadian West Coast environmental sound, namely (in order) ocean waves on the west coast of Vancouver Island, boathorns in Vancouver harbour on New Year's Eve, Vancouver harbour ambience with seagulls, and the Dragon Dance in Vancouver's Chinatown celebrating the Chinese New Year. All sounds are heard at their original pitch.

Pacific is available on the Cambridge Street Records CD Pacific Rim. Three of its movements exist in versions featuring live performers or graphic images, namely Pacific Fog, Ocean and Pacific Dragon, the latter two being available on a DVD video and can be seen here.


B. Truax, "Composing with Time-Shifted Environmental Sound," Leonardo Music Journal, 2(1), 1992, 37-40.

Technical note

The work was realized using the composer's PODX system which incorporates the DMX-1000 Digital Signal Processor controlled by a PDP Micro-11 computer. The principal signal processing technique involves time stretching of the sampled environmental sound with software for real-time granular synthesis developed by the composer in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Sound densities ranging up to 2000 events/second were recorded on 8-track tape and mixed down in the Sonic Research Studio at SFU.