Topographic Soundscapes

How does material affect sound? What noises would a landscape make? In this two day exploration of paper and sound we decided to investigate the concept of a landscape as a series of sounds, and how the different material qualities of paper could be related to sound in a topographical context.

By building an imagined contour model with valleys, peaks, and meadows, we used three types of paper and an MDF “string” board to generate different sounds that would characterize the material. To achieve this, we embedded a contact microphone in each of the four layers of the model. When a user interacts with a layer, the resulting vibrations are picked up by the microphones and are processed with Ableton Live. We added appropriate reverb and effects to dramatize the sound, while keeping it characteristic of the material.

In addition to learning more about sound manipulation, we discovered new ways to perceive paper as an instrument and how to shape common materials to explore different sonic possibilities.