From Scratch

2018 | 5' 41''

From Scratch was created for the Sounds of Matter, composition competition by Physics Faculty of Vienna. It is inspired by research on « Structure and dynamics of ferrous metal interfaces » by Wilfried Schranz’s team. All sounds heard were designed from a single sample of torn paper. Credit: Crackling noise (torn paper sound), publicly available under CC BY 4.0 by James P. Sethna, Karin Dahmen & Christopher R. Myers. Nature 410, 242-250 (2001).

This sample produces a specific noise : a crackling noise. It releases energy following a power-law distribution, where a relative change in one quantity results in a proportional relative change in the other quantity. I build the macrostructure of the composition with this idea in mind.  I apply dramatic changes like the one you can find in noise: popping and snapping, when the system breaks and silence appears.

Also, the events occurring in a crackling noise appear very similar at many different scales. Its features do not change if scales of length, energy, or other variables, are multiplied by a common factor – it is called scale invariance. By slowing down the sample, infinite rhythmic variations appear but they keep the same features. To enhance this feature, all sound delays used in From Scratch follow a Fibonacci sequence. It created a new form of scale invariance within the matter.

Finally, the process on focusing on one sample only followed a power-law distribution, between time and inspiration. The sample has poor harmonic variations. The first sounds were easy to design, as I was using tools to enhance the raw material, fewer interesting sounds appeared. The sample seemed to be sterile and even. But the closer I looked to the sample, the more beauty I found in its irregularities. Then an irregular landscape emerged, like the alpine one you can find in domain walls.