Tower of Annoy John Carter

Tower of Annoy was composed using sounds that producers/engineers typically work hard to remove from their work. The source material for this composition is several minutes of continuous noise, as well as a few audio ‘artifacts’. The initial phase of this composition involved recording the following:

- 2 minutes of the studio air conditioner running at high speed.
- 2 minutes of an industrial fan running at high, medium, low speed.
- 1 minute of electrical hum from a guitar amplifier.
- String noise of a guitar being bumped.
- Noise of a microphone being moved while recording.
- 1 minute of a desktop computer fan.
- 1 minute of a data projector fan.

The second phase of this composition involved reshaping this recorded material into ‘samples’ using .wav editing tools. To form some sounds, the long recordings of noise were time compressed several times, to produce samples of a very short length, with a very unique timbre. During each time-compression iteration filtering was performed to remove unwanted noise (such as hiss). Also at each stage effects were applied, including chorusing, ring modulation, slicing/gapping and other related processes. The envelope of each sound was also modified, to give the final sound an appropriate attack and decay.

The third phase involved loading these samples into a software sampler. First a rhythm track was composed, followed by an atmospheric backing using samples that were ‘pitched’ over the keyboard.

The final phases of the composition were traditional production mixing/mix down/mastering.

The title ‘tower of annoy’ comes from the name of the puzzle ‘tower of Hanoi’, where the goal is to move a stack of disk of increasing size from one post to another post without placing a larger disk on a smaller disk. This process reminded me of the wave-editing phase of this composition, where there were definite constraints on the precedence of editing the sounds. Some processing, if applied too early would yield undesirable results when the time compression was complete. ‘Annoy’ comes from the nature of the source material, all of which being studio annoyances.

  • Year of composition: 2001
  • Duration of the submitted work: 4:43

Linked project

  • Bassal, Bourque, Bry-Marfaing, Caballero, Carter, Chepil Reid, Chung-Yan, Desmeules, Dodge, Garbet…
    25 tracks