Sound Collage

Royce Carlson

I have been a visual artist for a long time, first working in two dimensions (painting) and most recently working in three dimensions as a steel sculptor. My use of space has edged it's way a little bit into the fourth dimension - time. The time element applies to the fact that many of my sculptures are kinetic so their visual appearance changes over time. (see Cosmic Steel )

Now I am embarking on an artistic adventure further into the dimension of time by creating what I call sound collages. This is more commonly known as music, although some of my pieces are not much like the music you hear on the radio or in concerts. I have had an interest in music for long time. I began guitar lessons when I was eight years old, took music theory classes in college in the early 1970's, and was in a rock band during my college years. At one point in the late '70's I bought a synthesizer (Sequential Circuits' Prophet 5) and was going to buy a drum synthesizer and some recording equipment for the purpose of trying to get the sounds in my head out into the real world. At that time, it probably would have cost me upwards of $20,000 to get the equipment I needed to do what I wanted to do. That was too expensive for my meager budget so I sold the synthesizer and gave up on the idea. That was the pre-digital, pre-PC age.

Today, every PC comes with its own built in synthesizer and sound cards. What once required thousands of dollars worth of mixing boards and instruments now can be done with software for a few hundred dollars. So I am back at it.  Here's what I'm up to:

I have an eclectic assortment of musical instruments and I also bang on boxes, pots and pans, etc. I record these sounds into the computer using Cakewalk Pyro 2004 software and I edit and assemble them using Sony Screenblast ACID 4.0. You can listen to what I am creating by downloading MP3 files from this page. You probably ought to have a high-speed connection in order to download these because they are kind of long.

Cosmic Steel - 7:44 minutes - 7.2 meg. at 128 kbps.
I sampled the sounds in my welding shop using a small digital recorder and a cheap Radio Shack microphone. Heard in this piece are: Rain hitting the roof of my truck, Chop saw, bench grinder, fan, band saw, drill press, and hammering on various items. I manipulated the sounds with effects and altered the pitch of some of the sounds. I then assembled the various loops into this piece.
The Sea - 7:54 minutes - 7.4 meg. at 128 kbps.
This piece is much more "musical." I recorded myself playing guitar, didgeridoo, and keyboard directly into my computer using the same cheap microphone. In addition are some self-made percussive sounds plus some public domain percussion loops that came with the ACID software. The result is an ambient, instrumental piece of music with a relaxing feel. The bird noises were vocalized by my wife, Juanita.


Ring of Fire - 6.28 minutes - 6.3 meg. at 160 kbps.
In 2007 I did a series of "mashups.". This one combines the original Johnny Cash version with a cover by Wall of Voodoo. I added bass and drums and other computer synth stuff to turn it into a techno-dance tune.

I hope you find what I am doing interesting at least and maybe even enjoyable. I will put more pieces up on this site as I create them. Eventually I hope to make a CD of this kind of work that will be available for sale here.