I + I

Hi Igor and Iratxe. As promised I put together some information here concerning my work as a sound designer. In our talk, you mentioned you would like me to put together some of my latest work for you to listen to. If it is ok with you I would just like to “talk” to you about why and what I do. All of my music is on Bandcamp and my favorite/latest music is on my composition page.

What I consider to be my first job as a sound collaborator is to design an evening. A beginning, a middle, an end. Highs, Lows. Fasts, Slows. An identity. A development. Flow. Connections. Layers. These are the things that, in my opinion, make up a well-crafted piece of art. This is my main goal and is usually the ultimate goal that every other choice is working towards. This is why I think showing my personal compositions to you is not the most important thing. Because making original music is not the only and defining characteristic of what I do and why I do it. If making a new composition is the best way to enhance the vision of the choreographer, we do it. If using or modifying an existing piece of music is the best way, we do it. If using only sound with no music at all is the best way, we do it. And in order to find out if it is or isn’t the “best” way, we sometimes try all of the above before we decide. And usually every piece ends up being some combination of these three things.

Some of the problems I am trying to solve:

Perceived Problem to be solved number 1: Some dance pieces without a sound or music collaborator become a random mix of music that has no reason or idea behind why it is there. They become a random collection of genres and sounds to try and communicate the ideas of the choreographer.

Perceived Problem 1a: Without someone to arrange the music properly we get random fade-outs. Weird silences. Bad crossfades and just generally bad connections between the different sections of music which causes a bad flow of the piece, distracts the audience and ruins the theater magic in general.

Perceived Problem 2: Boring Boring Boring. I really think going to the theater should be an experience. Sound is a major part of that experience. I go to a dance piece that is not well-designed sound wise and the sound doesn’t envelope me. It doesn’t take me on a trip. It is too quiet when it should blow your head off and it is too loud when it should be barely whispering in your ear. It is just flat and one dimensional usually. In other words, boring. The last days before a premier I usually spend hours of time just adjusting the sound intensity of the piece on a minute per minute basis in the theater. I also mix about 60 percent of my works in surround sound to give a more full experience to the audience and really envelop them in the sound when it is appropriate. To try and create an experience.

Concepts I believe in:

Concept I Believe in Number 1: Simplicity.

During my mentorship with Kilian’s composer, Dirk Haubrich, one of the most important things that he taught me was the potential power of simplicity. First I want to show an example of one of Dirk’s pieces with Kilian “Toss of a Dice” that I think illustrates what I mean.

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The simplicity of the sound, the tempo and the rhythm and how it connects with what we see. This is a fundamental concept I always try to keep in mind. This is also one of the main differences between making sound and music for dance and other disciplines. It is usually not “the more the better”. Except in specific cases. And as Antoine de Saint-Exupery once famously said:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Concept I believe in number 2: Timing aka the right thing at the right time.

I don’t think of things as “good” or “bad” when framing things. I try to use the words “right” and “wrong”. There is a lot of beautiful music out there. Think of “On The Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter. No one would ever say it is “bad” music. But I would definitely say sometimes it isn’t right. I have seen lots of dance pieces using beautiful pieces of music. Also, I have seen lots of dance pieces using beautiful music that made me feel absolutely nothing and was incredibly boring. The music wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t right. This is totally subjective of course. The pacing and timing makes or breaks a piece in my opinion. Too much of a good thing and not enough of a bad thing can be equally awful.

Concept I Believe in Number 3: Collaboration.

I state this on my website clearly so I’ll just copy from the “What I can Do For You” section of my site: It takes two flints to make a fire. Absolutely there is tons of amazing music on Spotify or Youtube. But what I think is special about hiring a sound collaborator is not just the music they create for you. It is having another critical eye during your process. It is having someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to propose new approaches to you that you may not have thought of. Maybe even to occasionally challenge you and make you rethink one or two of your own choices. It is having a collaborator. And being someone who knows theater and having danced for many years, I can hopefully bring more than just sound to your process.  

I think for now that is about all I can expect you guys to read with your busy schedules and lives. But between this and my website, it includes most of the fundamentals of what I do and believe. Thanks for your time.