PROSPERO'S VOYAGE (2004)

a soundscape composition for eight or sixteen digital soundtracks

Prospero's Voyage returns to the mythical island of the piece Island (2000), except that this time it is Prospero's island from Shakespeare's The Tempest. The work begins with a Shakespearean actor, Christopher Gaze, intoning Prospero's final speech from the play, "Now are my charms all o'erthrown ", which culminates with the phrase "Let your indulgence set me free." Hence the premise of the piece is what happens when Prospero leaves the island? Before he leaves, however, there is a rainstorm and a scene where Prospero is circling the listener intoning a fragment of the speech from the play. In the next scene, he walks towards the beach, and with a final incantation enters the water and is submerged by it. His underwater voyage is interrupted by several "surfacings", but eventually this underwater dreamworld leads to a very distant place where the piece concludes with Macbeth's speech that ends with "to the last syllable of recorded time."

In other words, the work may be interpreted as a theatre piece that takes place in the future where such magical effects could be possible, e.g. a perfect recreation of a soundscape that interacts with the performer and transforms his sounds. Or, it can be understood as a voyage of the imagination where Prospero, symbolizing the creative powers of the artist, leads us through the depths of the imagination to its furthest point.

Original sound recordings by the World Soundscape Project and the composer.

Prospero's Voyage is available on the Cambridge Street Records CD, Spirit Journies. Prospero's Voyage is also the final section of The Isle of Avalon.


Note: the 16- and 8-channel versions of this work were created with Richmond Sound Design's AudioBox computer-controlled diffusion system.

  Sound Example available


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 with software for real-time granular synthesis and signal processing (such as digital resonators and convolution) developed by the composer in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. The sounds were recorded on 8-track digital tape and the AudioBox, and mixed in the Sonic Research Studio at SFU.

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