Earthquake aftershocks turned into music

A sound artist has transformed earthquake recordings into music that will be showcased at the International Computer Music symposium in Slovenia in September.

Jo Burzynska from Lyttelton, New Zealand performs as Stanier Black-Five and had recorded the first hour of aftershocks in February last year.

Working with the Melbourne sound artist Malcolm Riddich, she transformed these sounds of aftershocks and chaos into a soundscape called Body Waves.

“We called the work Body Waves, as this is one of the two types of seismic waves – the ones which travel through the interior of the Earth rather than the surface,” quoted Burzynska as saying.

“It also refers to the way the performance is perceived, which is as much through the body as via the ears,” she said.

Seismic waves are actually acoustic waves, sound waves travelling from the source of an earthquake.

However, people can’t hear them as they pass through the medium of the earth at a frequency too low for humans to register.

Body Waves has accentuated the lower frequency harmonics to create music that goes beyond the auditory system to be felt in the body.

The pair had performed it at the Sound Spectrum Festival in Perth in May.

“It’s not a simulation of an earthquake, it is an artistic arrangement of sound. In Perth they were more intrigued by it,” Burzynska said.

“The room was vibrating. When you get the fundamental frequency of the room you are vibrating, when you talk your voice vibrates and you feel it in your chest cavity, you can hear the sound as well but one of the most powerful things about it is that it is music that you feel,” she said.

more recommended stories