muted tones

september 03

loop 31

Chicago's Alicia Frantz was an audio archivist of the small and loud and lovely and complicated sounds which populate our cities; she kept record at Audible Frequency (now hosted at Alicia passed away on June 3, 2005. She was impossibly smart and kind and will be dearly missed by those touched by her life and work.

curator log:


september 05th, 2003

since moving to chicago in march of 2000, i’ve become fascinated with everything about the el. the sounds the el makes provides me with a special music to listen to; all of the creaking and clacking getting louder and louder as the train gains speed and becoming quiet again as the train rolls to a stop. in the mornings on my way to work it lulls me back to a light sleep as i make the commute. in the evening on the way home it seems to wake me up and get me excited about going home. if you listen closely there seems to be a specific rhythm. i love the little bits of conversation you hear sometimes making sense and sometimes not; mothers talking to children, business people chatting on cell phones, coworkers pretending to be interested in each others day. i enjoy inconspicuously glancing at other people, sometimes directly and sometimes in the reflection of the windows, to see where they are looking, what they are reading, what they are wearing. each little bit gives me a glimpse into that person’s world, who they are and where they are going.

for this piece, my first real attempt at audio manipulation, i took two different rides on the el and merged bits and pieces of each ride to create a journey on the el that never actually took place. the first one was recorded in December of 2002, a cold dreary saturday afternoon. this is where the conversational pieces were taken from. a mother (or caretaker) boarded the train with several children varying in age from about 6 to maybe 14. they were all very lively and excited. the second train ride was much later in August of 2003 during a fairly busy rush hour weekday. for this piece i attached microphones to the outside of the train so i could capture more of the sounds that the train was making and less of the noise from the commuters. i made loops of some of the more distinct sounds of the el and placed them behind the existing sounds.

upon completion of the project i’ve decided i would change a lot if i were to do it again. i might work on this more in the future using a different software program and choosing different loops to use in the background. any feedback would be helpful for future projects.

thanks & enjoy. feel free to
email me.

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