December 10th, 2013, 5pm

It was -25°C. The breeze was gentle.

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time behind this microphone at Paved Arts lately, but to record for other artists, not to record my own work.

Almost a year ago filmmaker and friend Amalie Atkins told me about a new film installation she was working on and asked if I would be willing to do some voice work for it. I love the dark quirkiness of her work so agreed right away. This past month she had put together enough footage to start working on the sound for Listening to the Past/Listening to the Future (which has twins, a frozen lake, black felt ear horns, and Victorian costumes). Amalie has usually had her sister do the sound for her work so we went through an interesting process of Amalie describing what she wanted for the twins calling across the lake, what sort of pitches might work, and what sort of vocal quality. We spent one afternoon recording some voice and then Amalie asked if I would also compose some piano music for the piece. By that point we had come up with a language to describe sound that worked for both of us, and she loved the first iteration of the piano music.

But the voice work needed more. Amalie called to ask if I would record the voice parts again, because she wanted more of a yell. We had a great conversation about yelling, vocal qualities, emotions evoked through yelling etc. and then Amalie asked me “Have you seen the movie Wool 100%?” When I answered yes, Amalie got very excited and said “I need a yell like the sweater girl’s!” and complete understanding ensued. We met at the studio again, and I yelled in pitch for a half hour (which was all my voice could handle).

I saw Amalie at the CORE III concert a few nights later and she said she had used a combination of the sung and the yelled pitches. The installation goes up at The MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina this January and I’m excited to see how it all turned out.

Today the recording project was very different. Sound installation artist and friend Ellen Moffat has been playing with ideas around sound waves from speech and mark making. During part of this exploration she realized she had what might be interpreted as a musical score. Bassist David Grosse and myself received these scores last week and met in the studio today to record our two interpretations under Ellen’s direction. Ellen saw this as an experiment and left us a lot of room to play around. Our interpretations were quite different. David approached the score as a classical musician/composer and I approached it more as a vocalist/sound poet. Ellen was amazed at how different our interpretations were but how she could follow the score for each. David and I used to play together regularly in an improv band called DUCT and we found that when Ellen asked us to interpret the score as a duet we were able to slip back into that innate musical conversation that seasoned improvisers know and love.

Amalie, Ellen, David, Reilly (our sound engineer) and I all have such varying vocabularies to talk about sound. Sound is so ephemeral, so quick, so emotionally evocative, that language and mark-making rarely do it justice. But we’ve managed to all make something with sound, not knowing how it may be interpreted by our audiences in the end.

Cassie, Paul, Adrian, Marcus and 3 others said thanks.

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Lia Pas

inter-disciplinary creator/performer

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