Published 13 October 2011 by JT
Since January I have been working with Diamond Light Source in Didcott on the sounds from their Particle accelerator.
Crystal is nearly 40 minutes long. It has been written for 5.1 DVD as a commission for Diamond Light Source.
On the 20th of October it was performed live in the space of the electron storage ring with a live feed from the Particle accelerator. The event was truly original and we had a good audience who listened to a live 45 minute set of Crystal.
You can down load the original work here from soundcloud. If you would like more information about the event or a DVD of Crystal please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Work and process
It is a sound work composed directly from frequencies generated by the electron storage ring, a particle accelerator. The work also uses binaural recording from locations inside Diamond’s experimental hall, storage ring and beamlines. Writing this work, my imagination was sparked from the start and my aim was to write a work of substantial length which reflected both the actual content of the spectrum of the space and also the metaphorical content of the sounds.
The Diamond synchrotron is a rich multi-spectral sonic environment, with a cacophony of sounds generated by machines which hiss pure nitrogen, pump air from vacuum chambers and cool high-powered magnets. There is never one time where any sound is exactly the same. It is a large space, circular; extremely reverberative, vibrating complex tones from the electro-magnetic and mechanical interfaces which generate the electron beam which travels at near the speed of light. The actual physical space of the synchrotron seems to capture pure human intelligence, concentration and the ability to look beyond what is currently possible. It is light, futuristic and like nothing I have ever seen before.
Most of the sounds you hear in this work are the sounds of electron injections into the particle accelerator at certain times of the day. This happens on a regular basis every 25 minutes; it is predicable and ever present. The sonic content of the injections is grainy and dry. I choose to listen to the micro tonalities captured in
the streams of injections developing detailed micro melodies which appear and disappear not unlike the atom injections. The injections are heard in full at the end of the work. I also took binaural field recordings from points in the synchrotron area and I used a selection of these within the work.
The work was composed in the Electro-acoustic Studios of the University of Wales , Bangor, with support from a research grant from the University of East London. Many thanks to all involved in making the work.
Jo Thomas, London October 2011
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