Trace Element James Bentley

Trace Element is the final piece from the Cycle of Noise project. It was created during a period away from composing for the concert hall, when I was heavily engaged in the applications of Max/MSP as a tool for composition and performance. This was whilst working as one half of the live electronic duo, Asbestos, and also researching performance possibilities in clubland.

In Trace Element, the musical fabric is predominantly derived from glass sounds — those recorded during the creation of Bruit (the second piece in the Cycle of Noise project). The work is intended as a sound installation in which sounds are mixed together, manipulated through effects, filtered by other sounds and spatialised over an 8-channel sound system — the notion of mixing sounds, coming from the process of making glass itself: the fusion of sand, soda and lime. Consequently, there are three sonic elements in the piece: (1) noise, (2) glass and (3) the real-time transformations of these. These three elements combine to form a single evolving soundscape where only traces of the original sounds sources are recognisable.

Trace Element was created in the composers’ home studio and was first presented during BEAST’s De Natura Sonorum weekend at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham (March 2004).

About the Cycle of Noise

The Cycle of Noise project is a series of works that explores the cultural phenomenon (through musical context), but primarily the sonic aspects of noise. By noise, I mean: distortion, feedback, glitch, white noise, hum, hiss and other derivatives usually associated with the ‘unwanted’ part of an audio signal. Central to each work is the discourse between noise and non-noise (real-world or concrète) sound-worlds through musical processes. As the cycle progresses, these processes become less rigorous, whilst noise accumulates over the course of the first half of the cycle before rapidly fading in the latter stages.

The cycle consists of six works (totalling around 80 minutes), which are divided into two sets of trilogies: the first three works form something of a ‘radio trilogy’, while the latter three have an environmental aspect to them (explored through location or space). The cycle is intended to form an evening concert, with an interval separating the trilogies.

James Bentley: Cycle of Noise (1995-2004)

1. Interference (1995-7/9) solo violin 7’
2. Bruit (1997/8) electroacoustic 10’
3. Short Wave Fantasy (1998/9) electroacoustic 17’ 06
4. Double Exposure (2001) electroacoustic 9’
5. In Broken Images (2004) electroacoustic 17’ 20
6. Trace Element (2003/4) electroacoustic installation 15-20’

  • Year of composition: 2003
  • Duration of the submitted work: 14:52
  • Production: Home

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More works by James Bentley