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Intimate Spaces Making-of Pt.1: Inside the Bridge

HannesHannes

Friday is going to be an important day for me.

Friday my album Intimate Spaces will be released! It’s my first proper album, the culmination of 5 years of work.

I love it when artists share their process and show how their tracks were made. So I’d like to humbly contribute to this, by sharing how I created the music on this album: Not that there’s anything special about it, I mostly see it as a way to start a conversation.
Let me begin with some general notes and with a little “making-of” for the track that is currently available on the pre-order: “Bridge”. More will follow!

Intimate Spaces is a musical exploration of non-inhabitable architectural spaces and their sounds, performed and produced using a mixture of field recording, sampling and synthesis.
It is an album about the dark, cold and claustrophobic interior of a concrete bridge, the sounds from the street heard through a 5-storey cavaedium and the dripping noise of a pool leaking into the service room below it.
The sounds of the outside become the sounds of the inside, but not before having been radically changed and shaped into something new.
Ultimately, this is an album about inhabiting the sounds of uninhabitable spaces.

Making-of and track notes

Process

All the tracks – except for the intro, which is a pure, unedited field recording – were born out of the dialogue between field recording and synthesis. They are like duets between the spaces, with their sound and mood and various electronic instruments, like for example the modular synthesizer.

Most of the work was done on the computer. The recordings were layered, cut-up and edited in various ways to create a sense of narrative. I did not want to alter the nature and identity of the sounds though. I tried to keep them as close as possible to the original recordings. Otherwise, they would have become something else.

The modular synthesizer was used for two distinct purposes:

Sometimes the musical material grew organically out of the recordings: I did for example use the dominant frequencies I could hear in the cavaedium recordings as a harmonic foundation for the drones and melody fragments in the track “Cavædium” (I’ll probably post about this next week). Other times, like in “Bridge” I worked more towards enhancing a certain mood or emotion. Along the way, I documented my thoughts and process through photos, notes and videos (Thanks to my kind wife Elizabeth’s help!).

Bridge

There’s a torrent close to where I grew up. It’s mostly dry in summer, but carries a lot of water when the snow melts or when it rains a lot. The torrent bed is relatively large and mostly made of sand and rocks. I loved to play there when I was a kid.

The loud “thump” sound, which vehicles produce when transitioning from the street to the bridge, became the sonic foundation of the composition, resulting in this bass-drum-like pulse, which can be heard throughout the track. The sounds I recorded in the metal funnel were then used to add further percussive elements.

The same “thump” sound was also used as an impulse response inside a convolution-based reverb plugin (Liquidsonics Reverberate). This enabled me to apply the same spatial quality found inside of the bridge to synthesized sounds.

To create more pitched materials and to add harmonic elements to the composition, I used a modal resonator module (Rings from Mutable Instruments) to process the percussive sounds from the bridge and the funnel. The bass drone is just a simple patch made with Ableton Live’s Analog synth.

The funnel
The inside of the bridge
Hannes
Author

Graphic designer, illustrator and soundmangler. He makes music as kurodama and as part of the electronic music duo kvsu. Together with his wife Elizabeth he runs Papernoise, a small design studio located in northern Italy, specialised in graphic design for the world of music.

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