Quake recordings turned into music

Sound of aftershocks turned into music

Last updated 13:20 29/06/2012
Jo Burzynska

FEELING IT: Lyttelton sound artist Jo Burzynska at work.

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A Lyttelton sound artist's earthquake recordings will feature in the International Computer Music symposium in Slovenia in September.

Jo Burzynska, who performs as Stanier Black-Five, recorded the first hour of aftershocks on February 22, 2011.

Working with Melbourne sound artist Malcolm Riddich, she has transformed these sounds of aftershocks and chaos into a soundscape called Body Waves and says it is music you can feel.

When you are in the room that it is being performed it makes your body vibrate.

''We called the work Body Waves, as this is one of the two types of seismic waves - the ones which travel through the interior of the Earth rather than the surface. It also refers to the way the performance is perceived, which is as much through the body as via the ears,'' Burzynska said.

Seismic waves are actually acoustic waves, sound waves travelling from the source of an earthquake. However, we can't hear them as they pass through the medium of the earth at a frequency too low for humans to register.

Body Waves accentuates the lower frequency harmonics to create music that goes beyond the auditory system to be felt in the body.

The pair performed it at the Sound Spectrum Festival in Perth in May.

''It's not a simulation of an earthquake, it is an artistic arrangement of sound. In Perth they were more intrigued by it,'' Burzynska explains.

''The room was vibrating. When you get the fundamental frequency of the room you are vibrating, when you talk your voice vibrates and you feel it in your chest cavity, you can hear the sound as well but one of the most powerful things about it is that it is music that you feel.''

The theme of this year's International Computer Music conference is non-cochlear music, interpreted as being music that is conceptual or felt rather than heard. The pair submitted Body Waves and were gratified by the response.

''They described Body Waves as a must-have for the festival.''

It will have its New Zealand debut in Wellington next month.

Burzynska said it will eventually be performed in Christchurch ''when the time is right''.

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