Sanna Wager
PhD Candidate, Music Informatics
Indiana University Bloomington
School of Informatics and Computing
scwager -(at)- indiana.edu

Electronic Compositions

The Good-Humored Violin (stereo reduction of fixed media quad, 2015)

This piece explores the similarity between the violin and the human voice through the sounds of laughter and vibrato. All sounds are built from violin recordings, performed by Minju Kim. Imitations of laughter on the violin are followed by laughter sounds reconstructed(1) from violin sounds. A climbing melody follows, with multiple layers of transposition, then introduces a falling Shepard tone(2) that uses long violin tones instead of pure sine waves for a rich sound world. MaxMSP was used for the transpositions, and Digital Performer for combining the sound tracks.

(1) The recording of laughter is turned into a series of frames using Fourier analysis. For every frame, a search through a database of violin recording frames determines the closest match in terms of amplitude and phase in all bins. This match replaces the original laughter frame.

(2) A Shepard tone is an auditory illusion of a never-ending glissando. Multiple layers of partials slide down a large interval (sometimes up to ten octaves), starting with zero amplitude, growing to a maximum close to the mid range, and decaying back to zero.

Bassoon Key Thunderstorm (fixed media stereo, 2014)

Built solely from close-up recordings of bassoon keys, Bassoon Key Thunderstorm explores the sounds of a rainstorm passing by while thunder booms in the distance. Tools such as granulation, transposition, reverberation and equalization are used to modify the original sounds.

Office Digression (stereo reduction of fixed media quad, 2014)

Office Digression explores the interaction between sounds of different environments and how they compete for our attention. An imaginary subject's attention is brought to the sounds of an office after closing windows shut out the song of frogs in the Amazonian forest. The subject's daydreaming transforms the typing clicks into clicks of a bicycle chain, transporting them on a gravelly bicycle ride in the outside forest, whose sounds are distorted in the subject's dreams. At this point, hints of the office sounds, such as faxes, printers and walking on heels, can be heard trying to intrude into the dream and wake the subject up. The progressively strengthening intrusion finally causes an awakening, a sudden disappearance of the dream and return of the office environment. The ticking sound is built from the sound of heels transposed in pitch and time, respectively two and three times faster and higher. The fax sounds in the dream are created through subtractive synthesis of pitches less than a quarter tone apart.

Recordings of the Amazonian forest, bike chain and heels were downloaded from Freesound.org.

Recordings from Junior and Senior Bassoon Recitals

Villa Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 6, for flute and bassoon (1938), performed on July 15, 2014
Flute: Kaitlin Morton

Willson Osborne: Rhapsody (1958), performed on January 29, 2014