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Last April 2019, Sounding Out! published the two-part article, “On the poetics of balloon music,” exploring sound, listening, and the atmosphere through the object of the balloon. The first part focuses on late 18th-century balloon travels and the descriptions of silence in the upper air that constituted a staple of Victorian balloon memoirs and literature of the time. Ascending above the noise of the industrialized city, the first balloonists were constructing a sonic identity rooted in the privilege of buoyancy and constructs of the sublime, harmony, and silence that excluded other ways of sounding.

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The sight of boundless space and the quietude of the higher regions of the atmosphere inspired colonial narratives of territorial expansion. Sounds produced outside this imperialist worldview were perceived as invasion, contamination, and noise. By establishing an early connection between the exploration of the atmosphere and a listening ear based on elitism, race, and class the article goes on to analyze some contemporary sound-art practices that use balloons to explore the atmosphere and that take on the challenge of creating a more inclusive relationship with the medium of air.

 

https://soundstudiesblog.com/2019/04/15/on-the-poetics-of-balloon-music-sounding-air-body-and-latex/

Against Levity: Experimental Music and the Latex Balloon

Part 2 of this article features an interview with composer and sound artist Judy Dunaway, who has been developing sculptural sonic performances with balloons for over 25 years. Dunaway’s work with the balloon as a sound producer has been the exclusive focus of several records (e.g., Balloon Music,  Mother of Balloon Music), scores, sound sculptures, solo performances, ensembles, and installations. In this interview, Judy Dunaway talks about how her balloon compositions are in active dialogue with questions relating to feminism, body/mind, ecology, civil rights, memory, and the overall creation of musical expression and lexicon that lives outside a classical heritage.

E2DA1972-C469-4AFA-B824-400EDF5E95DDAs Dunaway points out, the balloon as a musical instrument bypasses dominant hierarchies of music production, leveling the access to experimentation and sonic textures that are restricted by expensive electronic technology. Besides democratizing sound, the latex balloon functions as a resonant chamber, offering an embodied and inclusive mode of listening through the vibration of its membranes. This object duality of sounding and sensing opens up room for what the scholar Steph Ceraso calls a multi-modal listening that plays with the body, affect, behavior, design, space, and aesthetics.

“From my earliest work with balloons as musical instruments, I instinctively knew that I must limit myself to the balloon and my body.  This required that the balloon function not only as a musical appendage by which I may transmit sound, but also one that transmitted vibrations back to me through its sensitive body. (…)” Judy Dunaway, The Balloon Music Manifesto

Sounding Out! articles:

On the poetics of balloon music: Sounding Air, Body and Latex (Part 1)

On the poetics of balloon music: Sound Artist Judy Dunaway (Part 2)

*Brief review of these articles on the polish magazine Glissando: http://glissando.pl/aktualnosci/prasowka-29-04/

Carlo Patrão

COLLAGE BBT 1.1

This piece was produced for BBT Sun Radio and aired on Rádio Universidade de Coimbra (RUC) on July 6th, 2018. BBT Sun Radio is a radiophonic space dedicated to freeform radio and a celebration of our beloved friends and radio colleagues José Braga, Bruno Simões and João Terêncio. This hour is a travel-log of old and new interviews, radio cut-ups, collages and excursions on themes like deep time, sound, ecology, lucid dreaming, etc. Thanks to André Quaresma and Tiago André for the invitation and for curating this show.

Collage 2

Ruc

Music for Plants, Compilation.jpg

On June 28, I’ll be talking about Music for Plants at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado. This talk is part of an event series called 3 Things, Any 3 Things that mixes performance, lecture, and music. The tagline for the event reads: We bring you three experiences. We smash them together. We make no connections. Let’s see what happens. 

Alongside music for plants there will be a Hip hop harpist (Erin Newton) and a whiskey tasting (Ryan Negley). I’m pleased to do this lecture in the hometown of Dorothy Retallack, author of the book Sound of Music and Plants (1973), that famously spread the rumors that plants don’t have an ear for Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix’s acid rock.

MCA, Denver Colorado, June 28:
Music for Plants + Whiskey + Hip Hop Harpist 
with Carlo Patrão, Ryan Negley, and Erin Newton

MCA DENVEReventbrite-45978014479

Kalun Leung is a trombone player based in New York City. This interview was recorded during a visit to Freshkills Park in Staten Island organized by the sound artist John Roach, the designer Andrew Shea and their students from the New School. The group is developing a series of installations for the park that translate ecological data into sensory experiences. Freshkills Park, once the world’s largest landfill, is now being transformed into a public park three times the size of Central Park.

Kalun Leung
Sound the Mound

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