Vicky Clarke is a sound and visual artist working with handmade electronic instruments and sound sculpture. Her practice encompasses a range of audio formats, technologies, sound objects and archive material to create sound that explores noise, space and human – machine interaction. Recent performances include CTM Festival Berlin, Push:Music at Texture and Waves around Edges, a live composition responding to the Delia Derbyshire archive for Manchester After Hours at John Rylands Library.
She is co-founder of Noise Orchestra, a project developing electronic Noise Machines that translate light into sound; undertaking international tech residencies at STEIM and Q-02. This summer ‘Journey Through the Mirror Pool’, a multi-channel sound installation opened at the National Science and Media Museum and are now developing portable synthesisers for ENLIGHT: European Light Expression Network which will premier at Rome Media Art festival in 2018.
Here Vicky shares her top tips for creating new music…
1. Carry a sound recorder. Capturing the sound around you is a fantastic way of producing your own unique sounds. Listening back to field recordings and sound walks from different locations or experiences means you can time travel through sound and you’ll start to have your own archive. Working with this original material of often non-musical and non-organised sound can bring a personal dimension to your music making.
2. Starting Points: Fragments & Chaos. It’s rare that I begin from a grand idea and work and work in a linear format. I love working with samples, found sounds and creating loops from fragments of content. I find that the material dictates how the piece evolves, so don’t be afraid to start small with simple ideas. Try not to control everything that happens, try doing things the wrong way, embrace mistakes and explore chaos and chance operations.
3. Reworking material – experiment! It’s good to try different experiments with the same material, this is why I love working with electronic music as you are able to operate from such a wide palette and manipulate materials in so many different ways. Set yourself a task of working with one sample or a single composed element to create different outcomes, this can lead to unexpected outcomes and take your project in a new direction.
4. Take a break from production – gain perspective! I use Ableton as an instrument and to produce soundscapes. It’s easy to get lost in the DAW spending hours obsessing over a particular loop, segment or combination of sounds. When you hear that creeping voice in your head that says ’is this even good?’ it’s time to TAKE A BREAK! Move away from the computer and come back to your project with regained objectivity. If you still like what you hear, then it’s worth pursuing – if not, don’t be afraid to rip it up!
5. If it doesn’t exist – build it! I enjoy a DIY approach to sound creation, making electronic circuits and sound sculptures to generate sounds that you may not find on professional equipment. Making your own tools and experimenting with materials and recording can be really satisfying process and produce some unexpected results.