Brasilia Soundscape Compositions

Brasilia CD The CD is no longer available. However, the programme notes and sound excerpts presented below from each of the compositions will give a sense of Brasilia's soundscape and the composers' relationship to their home town.

by Juliane Berber and Christian M. Bassay Blum

Sound Excerpt 1 (1:00)
Sound Excerpt 2 (0:50)

The composers were architect students at the time of the workshop. And it is perhaps not surprising that the piece moves through various spaces of resonance, from an abstract sonic space to nature, to human/urban work and habitation back into abstract space. What I call abstract space is created by a sonically very rich sound with which the piece begins: the resonant frequencies of a metal pipe, found by placing the microphone inside the pipe. A rhythmical sound abstracted from an industrial source brings movement into the resonance and takes us to the very contrasting sounds of crickets.

The second example takes us into a very interesting acoustic space in the city: that of the cathedral. Visually this cathedral is a striking piece of architecture. Acoustically only its reverberance and its whisper gallery effect are reminiscent of cathedral design. The beauty and effectiveness of these acoustic qualities, however, is highly reduced by the invading traffic noise of the nearby roads. It seems that no attempt has been made to create what is characteristic for a church or a cathedral: a sanctuary, where quiet worship and meditation is possible. In this recording the police sirens penetrate the cathedral's transparent walls easily and sound almost attractive as they are transformed by the reverberant environment. An additional sound of a single repetetive waterdrop heightens the sense of unreality of this place.

by Celso Araújo, Marcelo Araújo, João Cláudio Silveira

Excerpt (1:45)

All three composers worked in radio. Structurally the piece is a montage. The voice is its main sound source, the voice in various walks of life, on the street, in the media, singing voice, speaking voice, children's voices, etc. It is a piece of social commentary about Brasilia, contrasting in a poetic way the political and private, sacred and profane, solitary and collective, media voice and street voices. Many of the voices will be immediately recognizable to local people. In this excerpt you'll hear the voices of a theatrical performance, media voices, street musicians, the voice of an Indian, and so on.

by Claudio Vinícius and Bené Fonteles

Excerpt (2:10)

Both composers lived in the country side just outside of Brasilia and were actively engaged in ecological issues. This is a slow-moving, indeed dreamlike piece. It is in the selection of sounds, their juxtaposition and processing that the dreamlike quality of the piece emerges. Simple processing such as slowing down of the animal sounds, creates an unusual effect, immediately striking and appealing. It is perhaps not surprising that this piece comes from two people who spend a great deal of time in the countryside and wilderness. As I hear it, the piece wants to reach more deeply into our psyche, into our perception of the soundscape, in an attempt to understand and experience its deeper meanings.

by Fernando Corbal

Excerpt 1 (0:40)
Excerpt 2 (0:21)
Excerpt 3 (0:39)

Fernando was a musician and performer. He composed this piece with the explicit purpose to preserve the realism of the soundscape. It is a short and effective journey through the day of a middle class person in Brasilia. Leaving the quiet of the home, through the sound of a metal gate, entering the car, the work world with all its hectic, intense rhythms, finding recreation and stimulation later on the playground and in the gym with children, and finally ending up in the calming soundscape of a natural environment.

The first example is the beginning of the piece with its fast movement from home to work. Note the wonderful squeaks of the metal gate.

The second example is an exploration of another metal squeak, swings on the playground. You'll hear three swings together and then a slowed down swing sound is faded under, which makes the squeaks all the more attractive. Metal squeaks seem to be a very typical sound in this part of the world: a lot of unoiled hinges and a lot of metal chairs scraping on tiled floors.

The third example I find particularly attractive in the way Fernando compositionally leaves the bustling noisy urban day and returns to a quiet natural soundscape. Note how he uses the turning off of a jet engine to underline this effect.

Brasil - ia
by Damian Keller

Excerpt (1:33)

Damian was a music student at the university in Brasilia at the time and has since come to North America to pursue his compositional studies further (http://www-ccrma/~dkeller and His piece is more abstract in nature than the other compositions in this context and is perhaps closest to the genre of a contemporary electroacoustic composition. He created his sound materials by hitting various architectural structures as if they were musical instruments: metal support columns of buildings at the university and metal sculptures. He hit them with his hands and a variety of other devices and recorded the sounds. These then were processed and mixed on the computer. The result is a piece of sonic architecture, almost an aural equivalent to the monumental aspects of Brasilia's architecture.

Brass Ilha (Brass Island)
by Ernesto Donas Goldstein, Juán Carlos Arango, Luís Francisco Latorraca

Excerpt 1 (1:14)
Excerpt 2 (0:38)

All three composers were music students at the university in Brasilia. Like Damian they limited their materials to a few sounds, but combined them with synthetically constructed instrumental sounds. The piece explores the boundaries between musical instruments and environmental sounds: environmental sounds are used as if they were musical instruments and instruments as if they were environmental sounds. This piece has a delicate, transparent quality and is sensitively constructed in its interaction between musical/instrumental sounds and the recorded sounds. It is a slow moving piece and has the courage to spend time in quiet soundscapes and to explore sonic details.

The first example simply shows the delicate interplay between waterdrops and instruments.

In the second example the main sound is that of a particularly squeaky waterfawcett found in a men's washroom and played like a musical instrument. I have heard similar sounding improvisations on the saxophone.

by Luis Roberto Pinheiro

Excerpt (1:50)

This piece is an intricately composed montage of many small snippets of sound alternating with longer sections of total sound events. It has been constructed around certain rhythmical structures, partially determined by the sound materials themselves, partially imposed onto the sounds as a structural element. The piece moves very quickly through a lot of sound materials. It is a powerful sonic statement of sonic planning. Planos attempts to unite the incidental, chaotic sounds of everyday life inside the artistic microcosm of a musical structure.

Brasilia Soundwalk Brasilia Workshop Brasilia Article