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Vancouver Soundscape Revisited

Claude Schryer

Programme notes
To Hildi

“Not only have there been enormous changes in the soundscape itself but also in the way the soundscape is documented and thought about. Audio technology and recording equipment can now be used in similarly portable ways as a camera. As a result, the soundscape can be recorded, reproduced, composed and processed by more people than ever before. The activity of ’sketching’ a city’s acoustic image has become a new forum for speaking about place and environment. The Vancouver Soundscape documents are not only meant to expand listeners’ horizon towards Vancouver’s soundscape and raise consciousness about its quality, they also want to raise questions such as: how do we listen and behave acoustically in everyday life; how can we acquire a “sense of place” and belonging from our soundscapes; are there ways to design liveable soundscapes in urban environments?

Hildegard Westerkamp, from the introduction of the compact disc Soundscape Vancouver 73 + Vancouver Soundscape 96 (Cambridge Street Records, CSR 9701)

Vancouver Soundscape Revisited, an acousmatic work, is an impressionistic portrait of the musicality and poetry of past, present and future soundscapes of Vancouver. The piece was composed using archival sounds dating from the World Soundscape Project in the early 1970’s and from recordings of Vancouver made in the early 1990’s by Bob MacNevin on behalf of the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University (SFU).

My method was to select a few hundred sounds from the collection, which I edited and catalogued by spectrum, category, function, pitch, and context. I then experimented with various combinations and modifications of the material until interesting sonic alchemies were found…

The original version of the piece was in eight tracks and in nine movements. This is the stereo version of the piece in seven movements.

[ix-97]


Vancouver Soundscape Revisited was realized at the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC) in May, 1996 as part of Soundscape Vancouver 96 and premiered in its 8-channel version on June 7, 1996 in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver New Music Festival. The production of Vancouver Soundscape Revisited was supported by a Media Arts Audio Production grant from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA) and a travel grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ). I thank all of the participants in this composition, many who have been recorded without their knowledge. In particular I thank Bob MacNevin and Barry Truax for use of the Simon Fraser University (SFU) recordings and my Soundscape Vancouver 96 colleagues: Darren Copeland (Toronto), Hans Ulrich Werner (Köln) and Sabine Breitsameter (Berlin) for their support and encouragement. A special thanks to Hildegard Westerkamp, to whom this piece is dedicated. Hildi was the heart and soul of Soundscape Vancouver 96 and helped me bring the piece, and my perception of Vancouver, to life.

Premiere

  • June 7, 1996, Concert, Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada)
  • Composer(s): Claude Schryer
  • Year of composition: 1996
  • Instrumentation: 8-channel fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0708498616
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Movements

Eagle

Five typical soundscapes of Vancouver

Eagle in forest, music in Chinese shop, soft rain, train whistle and echoes of the 9 o’clock gun.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318131
  • Duration: 1:42

Fire

Celebrations and a virtual harbour symphony

Chinese firecrackers, folk dancing, Krishna musicians, baseball game, tennis, mechanical piano, gulls in the harbour, 9 o’clock gun, telephone ringing, Skytrain and bus, boat and train horns.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318142
  • Duration: 3:44
  • ISRC: CAD509712910

DroneSong

A song accompanied by a ferry drone

Boats drones, a drunk singing in an alley, seagull cries and ship horns.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318153
  • Duration: 1:13
  • ISRC: CAD509712920

Industry

The sound of money and environmental destruction

Processed seaplane, ocean, chain saw and tree falling, 9 o’clock gun, sawmill, screaming men at a market, stock exchange, elevator door, announcement and industrial pulsation.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0708763841
  • Duration: 2:00
  • ISRC: CAD509712930

Horns

Electronic O Canada horns accompanied by Wagnerian transpositions

Church bells, horns from Canada Place/BC Hydro building and a squirrel in a park.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318164
  • Duration: 1:57
  • ISRC: CAD509712940

Beans

A walk through commercial, tourist, industrial and residential neighbourhoods.

Chinese bean store, voice on Grouse mountain gondola, shipyard construction, seaplane, fire engine siren, truck brakes, train bell, bus, ice cream vendor, children’s swings, backup beeper of truck, bicycle, 9 o’clock gun and the voice of recording engineer Bob McNevin.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318175
  • Duration: 2:31
  • ISRC: CAD509712950

Blowin’

Four typical soundscapes of Vancouver

Forest, street buskers, cries of wildlife and soft rain.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318186
  • Duration: 1:29
  • ISRC: CAD509712960