Nested Soundscapes

What I love about the fold as a defining structure is the expansive movement it engenders. Points and lines tie us down to place, while the fold unfurls in a general direction. The geometry of points and lines creates boxes and a clear sense of knowing where we are. The fold must move in and out before we sense where we are. And as soon as we know, the fold changes direction. Points and lines are linear, while the fold is circular and spiraling. Lines designate territory, create inside and outside, and angulate relationships amongst points. Folds open up and enclose an ever shifting terrain that encompasses even the points and lines. Folds are inclusive and allowing of all relationships.

A deep fold creates a “nest” – a temporary sanctuary in a prolonged moment. So the fold can define a space for engaging in specific relationships for a certain duration of time. In my sound work, I call these “Nested Soundscapes”. I like the term “nested” because it suggests a swaddling, an outer layer, a container that holds the soundscape performance “in the moment”. A nest is a “home”, albeit a temporary one. The soundscape is one container. Then add the “nest” as the specific space/time of the soundscape event, which becomes yet another container. Now we have something like nested dolls with containers within containers. The nest is the contextual “now”, the ambient environment in which the performed soundscape unfolds. The nest brings in room acoustics, and other voices and sounds, and makes me put on my “yes” ears, and follow whatever happens, surrendering to all the potentials and possibilities that manifest in the nest.

The nest brings unexpected gems into the unfolding soundscape. The audio clip below is a beautiful example of what can emerge in a Nested Soundscape. You will hear Glenna Batson guiding a folding/unfolding movement workshop at American Dance Festival Studios in Durham, NC. I am folding sound around and through the workshop space. Matthew begins vocalizing. The depth and texture of his voice add a low end that is missing from the soundscape. In this excerpt, you hear the fullness and richness of the nested moment including the soundscape, Glenna’s guidance, Matthew’s vocalizations, iPad game sounds, construction machinery and, finally, a distant train whistle that brings it all home.

When I listen to this Nested Soundscape with primary attention to the folding and unfolding of the audio moment – everything interacts, every sound has a purpose and a place. “All that is” speaks perfectly!