Category Archives: Projects

it snowed a lot last week, we had a good time

We all collected sounds, we didn’t really talk about what they were or where they came from.

Chung cleaned the sounds he liked best.

Jake took these freshly-scrubbed-clean (less noisy) sounds and changed them even more. they continued to lose context.

Then we all met in the media lab and intuitively routed those sounds into speakers.

It did snow a lot that week. I filmed the snow at night while I waited to catch the bus home.

I went back into the media lab and played our sound-scape over and over at max volume and projected the snow falling at night into the darkness of the room. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the spotlights. Where is the on switch? I wanted to film the dust they would illuminate, especially if I had run around in circles for a while.

I think, in there, I hear a rising and falling or lifting and dropping. Something from an elevator, and what our bodies sound like on the inside, the wet contraction of a heart beat.  The steady release of something. It turns back into itself.




Arctic Aquatic


Diving deep down to the sea to see ratcheting skeleton fish, cold undersides of icebergs, and impenetrable darker and darker blue: submergence.

View our video at:

Our sound collage piece explored manipulating the interior sounds of a library, a symbol of human knowledge and comfort, into sounds that conveyed an unknown, cold, natural environment. As we manipulated the sounds we recorded in Max MSP and Alexander affected the edits in FL Studio, we uncovered beautiful and haunting sounds that conveyed an experience of descending as a lone diver into ice-covered waters of a frigid, dark, ocean.


Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.15.15 AM

Download Max 7 Patch & Audio Files:


When we were scouting for sounds on the first day of this project we followed our ears rather than a concept. Searching organically enabled a level of play that planning in the beginning would have stifled, and it also got us acquainted to the personalities and tastes that composed our group. We first wandered into Hunt Library’s cafe where we were lucky to catch the ringing of a running espresso machine, then turned the corner to record the sounds of a printer. We then went up to the fourth floor and experimented with running bookends against the built in slot-shelving, giving us strong scraping and clicking sounds. Afterwards we mashed keyboards as a group.

As we started reviewing the files and editing them, both individually and as a group, somber and cold sounds began to emerge. We also came to realize we could expand the interest of our piece by adding some sounds to the mix like Tyler playing his bassoon and producing multiphonic sounds using the bassoon reed. Alexander composed a short piano piece that can add a haunting but beautiful tone to the otherwise dark and raw sounds. But because we had to derive the sounds from field recordings, Alexander manipulated sound that came from striking a pair of scissors against a table leg, creating a beautiful chime. All of the members of our group took turns in editing files in Max MSP, and tweaks were completed by Alexander in FL Studio.

Once we had all of our sounds together Tyler brought them into Max MSP and acted as the operator, directing the sounds as well as creating the real functionality of the patch. Every group member contributed to the composition as we built the piece organically, but Tyler and Alexander’s ear for sound were tuned into the details and made it spectacular sonically. We all took part in arranging the direction and movement of sounds. Alexander continued editing and cleaning up sounds as we worked and discovered new possibilities.


“Affected Coffee” – Hunt Library Cafe Espresso Machine

Created by Alexander Panos


“Ambient Typing Pad” – Keyboard Typing

Created by Alexander Panos


“Processed Door Ambience” – Hunt Library front foors and typing

Created by Julia Wong


“Reversed Bassoon” – Multiphonic sounds on bassoon, reversed 

Created by Tyler Harper


“Metal Melody” – Scissors against table-leg 

Composed by Alexander Panos


“Reversed Metal” – Scissors against table-leg, reversed for conclusion.

Created by Alexander Panos


10951915_773031502791593_1735897104_o (1)

10954459_773031499458260_580403391_o (1)

While Tyler finished the final patch arrangements in Max MSP Julia and Joe started to brainstorm concepts for how to share the themes of the piece in a presentation. Joe suggested hanging simple black and white pieces of prints on the speaker cords and playing with the physicality of the space. Eventually we decided on directly incorporating snow and ice. Originally we planned to have the audience simply view melting ice, but we quickly moved to more individual, tactile experiences for the audience. Julia and Joe grabbed some snow from outside and tested to see how long it would take to melt in one’s hands in accordance to the piece. We felt this really complimented the collage in an almost uncanny way: the physical sensation matched the feelings of the sound directly. We planned to incorporate a petal into the middle of the snowballs, when we moved to ice we thought about adding mints to the centre.

Unfortunately there were some issues with holding the ice. It caused the floor to get wet and had unpredictable melting times. We needed more control over when it would melt. After discussing alternatives the conversation led to Joe’s suggestion of placing ice-cubes on the tongue. This kept both the physical and sonic sensations in the head, and we agreed as a group it was a good route to go. We tested it a couple of times and found ice cubes of a perfect size that melted at the end of the first part of the piece. The sensation stayed with the listener and set the tone for the rest of the sound collage.


Figuring out the perfect set-up for an optimal experience



Tyler as our Max operator




It was really late at night and we were having fun

After our performance of the piece on Monday, these are some of the feedback we got:
“the ice was a brilliant idea, and helps color   the whole experience even after the ice has melted”
“allowed for more imagination”
“kept the feelings in the head”
The audience felt that the sound “was cinematic,” and they wondered how we had created the ambience of the piece.

Alexander Panos and Tyler Harper: Sound editor and sound designer
Joe Mallonee and Julia Wong: Director and Scribe

We all worked together and shared ideas, but our respective skills came in handy in our different roles.

Project 1: Soundfields

Due date: Monday, February 2.  Be prepared to present your piece to the class for critique.  You will have a maximum of 10 minutes for set-up, so rehearse your presentation in advance.

For our first project 1 you will create a multi-channel sound collage based on field recordings that may be processed in any way.  Your piece may create a narrative or emotional journey, or it may evoke a sense of space – the artistic direction is entirely up to you.

The only requirement is that the sounds you are actual field recordings – they should come from a real acoustic space.  Recordings of nature, human activities, and machines are all great starting places.

You may also use traditional music sounds – the performance of instruments, synthesized sounds, existing music recordings, etc. – but these musical sounds be recorded, by you, in a real acoustic space.  For example, if you want to use a drum machine you should connect it a speaker and set the speaker up in an interesting acoustic situation – in a nice sounding room, or out on the sidewalk with traffic passing by.  Or if you want to use a sample from a pop song, you should play the music through speakers in a situation that transforms the sound – i.e. a reverberant parking garage or stairwell so the sound is transformed by existing in the acoustic world.  All the sounds we use should create a sense of place.

Review the syllabus for clarification of your roles in this project.  The Editor may use any sound organization software they like – but Max is encouraged and will be reviewed in class.  The Sound Designer should not only record sounds but polish and transform them.