At long last! It’s time for the “Elevator Music” challenge episode! We have some GREAT entries for it, too!
This was a fun challenge — from some traveling a few months ago, your friendly AWEsome host captured the rather horrifying sound of an elevator’s floor markers. Normally they’re nice dings or tones, but this one was an awful metallic buzz that simply confounded one. I sampled it via my phone (because that’s all I had with me), and challenged artists to make it into something beautiful.
As with the previous sample challenges, all challenge tracks today use ONLY the sample as the basis.
And the artists stepped up! So today’s episode is “Elevator Music”, and you’ll hear from Forrest Fang, Glenn Sogge, Playman54, Museleon, and Parityflux. After that we’ll dip into the RadioSpiral library for other uplifting music.
The Challenge Tracks:
Elevator Music (2018)
- “Alarming_Elevator” (original sample)
- “Is This Elevator Bliss” – Forrest Fang
- “The Sirens Await Mr Godot At The Seashore” – Glenn Sogge
- “Elevated land time forgot” – playman54
I would not call them beautiful. Also I should point out that I cheated a bit: though each track has the elevator samples much processed they also have the bird/water samples in two of them.
- “Fugue for Octopi” – Museleon
“Make something beautiful out this alarming elevator soundfile…..”
Sometimes, it takes a while to get the muse and some sounds don’t instantly jump out as being very workable and here is a case in point. As I’ve said before, working with mostly one field recording as the primary sound source to create sound pictures, results in some surprising changes to the sound but often throws up many technical difficulties too. It also shows how my mind can hear strange things and my imagination sees not your usual sound worlds as a result.
For this challenge, Alarming Elevator, to make something beautiful is easier said than done. I have a very low tech / lo fi method of processing and this resulted in the elevator morphing into ‘organ like’ sounds, and this was my starting point. Most of my tracks are best listened via headphones and if you listen carefully there is an odd tapping on one of the samples I created, which comes from the elevator doors shutting, as when someone plays a church organ. Combined with multi layering of sounds, for some reason, I imagined an Octopus swimming in an underwater cave, moving as they do, across a sea organ’s keys. Its movements make for a very haphazard experimental fugue, whilst the cave reverberates with strange noises and feedback..
Whether the result is beautiful might be for conjecture but at least my lonely octopus plays its organ fugue beautifully to my ears.
- “Sacellum On Cables” – Parityflux
Only the single sample that was supplied for the challenge was used. I used Alchemy to chop up the sample into pieces I thought were interesting or that might make good instruments to play. Some elements were stretched with Paulstretch and some were also noise-reduced within Alchemy. I brought everything into Studio One to lay out samples and also create virtual instruments. I used Izotope Iris on many of the tracks. It is an extremely versatile sample shaping VST with flexible sample looping and envelope controls. The button press beep formed the basis for several “instruments” including the low bell tone, organs, bass, and lead glide synth. 6 or 7 samples were formed into a drum kit. I was careful not to introduce any synthetic tones or waveforms with Iris VST. All the samples were used in a raw way and modified by looping, envelope adjustment and filtering. The digeridoo-sounding tone in the beginning and end was made using an autofilter on one of the samples.
The first organ synth I created sounded so much like a chapel organ that it informed the entire piece of music including the title. The idea of the enclosed space of the elevator as a personal sacred space was inspiring to work with. The piece starts and ends in a contemplative way and there is an interesting ride in the middle that includes…elevator music.
The Library Tracks:
“Lifted into the Great Blue Sky” – Ombient – (Unreleased, 2003)
“Up From Here” – Petal – Up From Here (2011)
“Sinking Upward” – Gregory Bond – Light Flowing (2018)
“Rise” – Bing Satellites – Rain (2015)
“Up Through Trees” – usr sbin – The Pink Moon (2010)
“Lift The Sky” – Cousin Silas – Lift The Sky (2016)
“The Up-and-Out” – Shalmaneser – Ticker (2008)
“Aloft” – Virtholi – Mythology (2007)
“Ups & Downs” – Syndromeda – Waiting For The Second Sun (2010)
“worm hole elevator” – playman54 – Elevator Music (Bonus Track) (2018)
Image “Alter Elbtunnel in Hamburg” by I, DorisAntony, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2284551