Experiments in Speed, Time, and Sound on the Tube

This is a 10 minute long sound piece focusing on speed and timing as a tool in sound as a medium apart from cinema or performance. The sounds heard are that of the London Underground. The event is entering a London Underground station, going through the gates, riding the elevator, walking and boarding a train.

The piece is broken into four distinct sections:

The first sequence looks at time in fast forward. The original event in real time is literally sped up so it lasts less than a minute compared to the original five.

The second sequence is also sped up from the real time length, but in a different way. In cinema, directors edit down from real time to move through events faster while still giving us the details we need to make sense of the story. This sequence is cut down to one and a half minutes from the original length to illustrate how sound can be edited like filmed material. The edits are kept unmasked and very noticeable to the listener to emphasize the jumps. All the main distinguishable elements needed to associate the sounds with boarding the tube are retained, while the monotonous bits are subtracted.

The third sequence is an original real time (5 minutes) event of entering the station and boarding a train to give the viewer an explanation of what the first two sequences illustrate.

The final sequence looks at the tool of music and how it can warp and change our sense of pacing. In a film or performance, music is used to move through events that the director believes the viewer will not need dialogue to understand. For example a scene where we are reading the emotion of a characters face or observing a silent action may just be accompanied by music that fits the mood and draws us into the moment. We can be made to forget about how long the scene is taking, or that time is passing because our minds are sorting out what the character is thinking or doing and what the music may mean in relation to it. In this final sequence I have layered music into a composition of the sounds of entering the station and boarding, as well as riding trains. This turns into a collage of music and sounds, the point being the music can slur the fact that long amounts of time may be going by, even as we accept we are moving at the same pace.

The point of this piece was to give thought to how the mind perceives time when we go through events that we do not deem important. To me, the mind seems to dismiss bits of time when the body is going through a repetitive motion or routine. In this example, a daily routine trip on the tube to work or school is put in a warped light. When presented in a gallery setting it is meant to cycle repeatedly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s