In my attempts in the field of computer music I have often been struck by how much more interesting natural sounds are than synthetic ones, or expressed more positively, it is extraordinarily difficult to create synthetic sounds with the same complexity as nature manages to do. In the past I have therefore tried to contrast live and synthetic sounds, to use one as a background for the other.

In Contrasts I have used only natural sounds and let them contrast with one another. Curiously a new contrast emerges between the man-made and the bird-made natural sounds. Even when the “found” sounds are very similar to the bird cries one notices an essential difference that makes these apparently similar sounds contrast with each other.

I met Ian Whalley in 1982. He came as a student to the Christchurch Teachers College where I was teaching. I had already assembled a collection of found and primitive instru- ments in my search for “new” sounds. He and I worked together, he especially with the new technology of the time, but also developing some of my “instruments” and adding his own. I particularly remember his theatre piece which he performed with other students for school classes, in which these found and invented instruments were used plus a striking use of native bird song. This piece looks back nostalgically to that fruitful year for both of us.

Kit Powell, Eglisau, August, 2002

Score of Contrasts