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    Female Musicians and Sound Art Essay

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    Sound is the essence of nature which the elements of nature and the living creatures are moving, vibrating, touching and express themselves through sound. Sound is existing each an every animals and humans which they are communicating through sound and reflecting emotions by their own voices. Human became more intelligent on collecting the sounds from the environment and modifying it through electronics.

    Sound is collaborating with visual patterns and it is a concept of aesthetic experience both combined with distinction of pure sounds in nature and a sculpture that gives a form to it. Sound art is inter-disciplinary with nature and shape the sounds of the nature through human body as an instrument and the sound is reached to a form with the help of synthesizers, midi keyboards, audio recording devices and electronic music programs in computers. Many sound artists are utilizing these electronic devices because they need to keep sound of nature in a pattern which is echoed in our ears and spread out between the walls. There are dominant and successful women artists all over the world which they are encountered with artistic discipline and sound installation through electro-acoustic progression which help them to explore the unlimited sound in the world.

    I would like to talk about some of the female sound artists throughout the world and the ones that i met in lectures, who had been inspired me in a way of comprehending sound as a material that expands with the concept of visual arts. Setting a sound was difficult for me before meeting with sound artists but now, their works have inspired me as interrogating what human ultimately reach in the existence of sound and how mystical the nature is. In our sound art lectures, i have been encountered with successful and feisty women sound artists such as Basak Gunak, Tuna Pase, Maya Felixbroadt and Burcin Elmas. These women are elaborating their piece of art with the joy of comprehending the nature and reaching to the organic sound. It has been a great pleasure for me to listen and analyze all the works that they did and i observed a common characteristics in all: bold spirit, collaboration with the people to improve in holistic way and creativity that fractures the shell to reach beyond the space.

    These female sound artists in Turkey are reflecting their expressions and thoughts with multidisciplinary forms of sound art such as electro-acoustics, psycho-acoustics, electronics and their own voice as multi-faceted instrument. I had a chance to meet and observe some of the women sound artists and their works on electronic based devices, also with the acoustic sound of the instruments they used. The connection in their works that i found is that the sound is filling with space and has spiritual dimension. The sound techniques are blended with their own voice and it creates a harmonious rhythm which is explored throughout their unlimited search in self-awareness. The common feature of those women artists is that they are devoted to compose a piece that is reflecting the inner world and integrated with the nature by improvising.

    Electro-acoustics play a big role in reaching to sound particularly and these women are screaming for nature itself to flow endlessly. There should be a knowledge on using synthesisers and other electronic music devices to form a sound which seems that every sound artist is generating the sounds as if giving a voice to mechanics. Each of them are still searching the purification of sounds they are using and how to configure the sounds with the visual dynamics. Basak Gunak is a cross-disciplinary artist and “she is doing research of how sound bounce off the walls and between bodies, follow the realm of inorganic beings; just like 0how planets and cosmos work (1). She is accepted Master of Arts and studied ‘Sound Engineering & Design’ in Istanbul Teknik University.

    She did research about social and cultural systems through site-specific sound compositions and installations. She is doing live performances and created “Ah! Kosmos” which she later on released her first album “Flesh” in 2013. During her search of her own music, she made compositions and sound design to contemporary dance, short-films and site specific performances in some art places including Rotterdamse Schouwburg,18th Istanbul International Theater Festival (IKSV), ARENA Theater Festival Nurnberg, Venice ElectroFestival (1). She performed in Berlin CTM Festival, Rock’n Coke 2013, Venice ElectroFestival,Budapest Punkurica Festival, Piknik Elektronik in Brussels, City Sonic Festival in Mons and completed a tour in Italy in January 2014. She currently has invited to Redbull Music Academy 2014 in Tokyo to perform her imbalanced sound compositions and improvisational pieces.

    She described the Academy as a collaboration between sound artists who enjoy performing together and create a harmonious atmosphere. It is obvious that she is inspired by the people who has no fear in expressing emotions and she persists on improving the compositions she made, which shows she is fearless in discovering fresh and new sounds. Her works deliberately designed on music compositions, sound design and improvisations as experimental sounds. She also did site specific sound composition such as “ Yerlesik Bilinc” with Tugce Tuna in IKSV 18th Theatre Festival in 2013. The sound in this composition is very minimal sound patterns and made me felt that a exhaling some sort of congestion. Moreover, she designed sound to ‘Camel 100th Annual Celebration Interactive Mapping’ and did foley design the short-movie called “Sessiz” in 2012.

    There are other sound designs that she did to movies such as “Tolerans”, “Gece Vardiyasi(2011)” and ambience design for the movie “Topragin Cocuklari(2012)”, “Simdiki Zaman”(2011). In addition to the sound designs she made, she also did music compositions such “Liminality”(2013) which is an audio-visual installation and “Stones vs. Birds”(2012) performing with Tugce Tuna in Rotterdamse Schouwburg. She has many compositions and sound design that has interaction with other sound artists. On the stage, she prefers solo performance and sometimes work with two people; Ovunc Dan who is playing the guitar and Gizem Aksu who provides live visual effects on sounds.

    They represent themselves as “uber live’. (2) She uses Ableton and on the stage Ableton Live. Sometimes with help of a synthesizer, she composed multi-faceted rhythms. As an example of a complex song, ‘Melting into Rise’ might be a creation of underground spirit. Her friend companied her and singed opera. The piece has artistic values and aesthetic in a way that all is blowing in the wind.

    Her works involves space sounds and inexpressible suffering of a emotional disturbance. She depicts her works as the holes in our bodies, a wound and asymmetrical patterns. From her album “Flesh” a song which is totally cleaned the rust in my ear, is called “Anneannemin Koah’si”. There are multiple electronic elements in her works and it gives a feeling of flying.

    To give an example of her improvisational composition, “ Ahlar Agaci” is an electropoetic type of work which is dedicated to Didem Budak. The lyrics has emotional values which the sound itself is atmospheric and disorientated in my ears. She definitely has an immense vision of understanding the sound patterns and her works touches the soul like a luminous light. Tuna Pase is a sound artists who engages with electro-acoustic composition, sound design, improvisation, song writing and ethnomusicology.

    She began making music when she hear the flute in an orchestra. She is amused by the timbre of flute which she began to learn flute. She also plays electronics, percussive instruments and she sings. “Her music is inspired from sleeping, dreams, food, nature, poetry, photography, street art, bicycles, Istanbul and Jerusalem.

    ”(3) While she is performing live, she is improvising and reconstructing the elements in electro-acoustic manner. She thinks improvisation is what makes her compositions and she likes to collaborate with other sound artists and musicians. She studied Musicology in her Bachelor of Arts and ethnomusicology in her Master of Arts programme. She recently studies on Sound Engineering an Design in Istanbul Teknik University. She still teaching ethnomusicology, electronic music in universities such as Bilgi, Yeditepe and Marmara. Also, she is conducting workshops on sound and performance and give inspiration to young kids.

    “She performs in concerts and festivals, and participates in projects and workshops in Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland), the United States, Israel and Turkey. ”She has electro-acoustic compositions which is gathered in ‘Discotheque Sounds from the Cemetary’ album. Some of the songs are ‘Exteriors of Noise, Interiors of Silence’, ‘Nefes’, ‘It’s cold and i like it’, ‘Om from Uma’, ‘Inside Me’ and ‘Rainy Istanbul’. She uses her own voice as multi-faceted instrument and her vocalizing depicts a jungle or a gloomy atmosphere in solitude. She uses acoustical instruments such as piano, guitar, but mostly she designs the sound in electronic softwares.

    Her works are extraordinary in a way that she uses her voice as a fractal pattern of nature. For example her piece called “Nefes” consists of her breathing and a mysterious clarinet sound has created a vision of a ghost town. Her music is like a tale of expressing natural nude of living creatures. She uses psychic elements to reach the altered state of consciousness. The lyrics and her robotic voice are depicting the bother of sick emotions. As another example from her works is entitled “Om from Uma”, which filled our brains with ethnical and mystical elements.

    Her voice seems endless and give a sense of trance. It is obvious that she has inspired from different traditions and cultural manner of music but still, she prefers a divergent way to search unfamiliar sounds. Maya Felixbroadt is a musician, song-writer, composer and she has well-planned artistic vision. She mostly uses acoustic elements and plays violin. Her uniqueness is hidden in her works which she organises and composes by herself and create a non-harmonic melody for each of the instruments in the orchestra.

    Her works generally represents some kind of madness and her vocalisation with unusual lyrics has accompanied her through her musical journey. She improvises with violin and has a structural pattern in every pitch that creates a fanciful but odd feeling. She is combining piano, violin and the vocals with delightful taste of madness and it is obvious that she is looking for rareness in music. While she has visited our class, we have seen some orchestral design which she did it by herself, installing a connection between each and every instrument. Colloborating with special artists such as Akiko Ushijima on composition and electronics, Jonathan Reuss on electronics and vocals, Momoko Noguchi on piano, she created a sort of classical experimental piece entitled ‘OgenBlik.

    She played viola and did sound installation. The sound is calling a realm of hope and very experimental that classic elements are combined with electronics which brings magic to music. She is discovering nudity in sound and how wild human can be. She is steadily designs her works in artistic discipline, yet inspired by other musicians who has no boundaries in showing the reality in ourselves metaphorically. For example, in her work called “Nature Boy” which she performed in Spring Festival 2013, The Hague; the correlation between the percussionists and the two narrators, give a sense of madness and joy.

    The timbre is like ebb and flow of the emotional disparity where the audience might not reach to every detail of sound. Even so, she is in her own boulevard of discovering non-existing characteristics of sound which provokes a sense of rage and ambiguity. The visuals of the performance is very dadaistic and divergent, as the narrator yells and say lots of things without an order which is sarcastic because the percussions are played as if they are fighting. The absurdity in her works makes it very experimental and she composed each and every part of the instruments on what they are going to play and what time they will.

    It feels like an uprising towards the routine system of musical pattern and she is far beyond of consciousness and sameness. Her work called “Seashell Spiral” is an example of site specific piece which takes place in Rivyera Beach, Israel is a combination of six voices and she also recorded sound of the ocean. It is an experimental work of art that clearly has an integration with nature. To sum up, she colloborates with acoustic musicians and she is fearless in arranging sounds as multi-faceted and rhythmless like the chaotic feelings of human being.

    Burcin Elmas has a name “JaZzJuLiEt” which she created it while studying at Istanbul Erkek High School. She has started playing saxophone during these years and continued with having a bachelor degree of Economy and Music in University of Virginia. After, she carried out her master degree with studying Music Technology in York University. Recently she is doing her PhD in Sound engineering and Design in MIAM. She is mostly interested in electro-acoustic music, visionary videos and improvisation performances.

    (5) She is plain alto and soprano saxophone since 1996. There are lots of music and free improvisation she did and some of them are; an online album of improvised music called ‘the colour is black’ labeled as ‘Rekonstrukt’, she composed music for the play “Kucuk Hayalet”. She also performed at “Digital Music Research Conference” at Leeds Metropolitan University. She made the sound engineering an recording of ‘Audio Tour’ by CUMA-ertesi series. She participated in some music groups such as Jazzmates, Free Game, Fake-up, On the spot and Istanbul Fart Ensemble and mostly played alto saxophone. She also handled the electronics.

    She has a rich context of what she did for music and there are several compositions that she made and edited it by Peak and Digital Performer (music programs on computer). Their names are ‘First Mix’, ‘Weird Ney’ and ‘Crashed’. (6)Her music is mysterious and seems like a dedication to nature and romanticism. There are jazz and improvisational rhythmic patterns but mostly it is experimental.

    She uses the saxophone sound multi-faceted and there are bewildering sounds which you don’t sense what is gonna come next. Her work with Sobo Toyozumi(drums) and Batur Sonmez(analog synth and electronics), live at Borusan Music House is a great example of her improvisational and experimental discovery of sounds. Her performance in alto saxophone is very fluid and she seems very relaxed while playing. Moreover, she participated in the group Istanbul’s piece called ‘Gunaydin’.

    It is a structured but joyful music and she is playing coherent with the rhythm. Variously, her work of ‘Dryad Metempsychosis”(7) with Volkan Ergen is a significant example of her improvisational style. The piece consists of sounds from nature and her saxophone makes the sound authentic and mysterious. Also the visuals are psychedelic which creates a different state of consciousness in human mind. She is mainly performing electro-acoustics and experimental jazz.

    Her vision is like touching the essence of every pitch of the sound which i really admired her musical line and the variations of how she combined saxophone with electronics. These women sound artists are the ones i have encountered and observe in the lectures. They are creative, steady, disciplined and they have experimental, fluid, rhythmic patterns as well as improvisational moves on their works. Now, i would like to give information about some other women musicians and sound artists all over the world. Kim Walker is a Scottish musician.

    Her interests in music are sound installation, generating soundscapes and making videos for the sounds. She expressed her sound as; “My work has naturally moved towards exploring pathos surrounding the concepts of seriousness, the mundane, nonsense, failure, success and humour. This has been achieved through a continued focus on the human condition and behaviours of gaming, playfulness, amusement and isolation. I create settings in which the mundane and the playful, ordinary gesture can suddenly invoke existential and poetic meanings. My engagement with the world around us comes from an observatory position – this gaze looks towards human interactions, the natural word and the spaces in between these two sites.

    ”(8) As an example of her interaction with sound is her work called ‘Mormaerdom’(2013). The work consists of bird sounds and suddenly it changed to a boiling or flowing sound of the water. The sounds are captured me by its natural occurance, although she modified it by recording and through installation. She is capturing natural sounds and anthrophony which refers to sound of human. As another example, her work entitled ‘Ascend’(2011) is a combination of her breathing sound and the sound while she is stepping in stairway. Ascending means going higher and through the video, there is just footsteps and exhaling voices of a women.

    It is controversial whether her work has musical value or not, but her aim might be only capturing the natural sounds and their interpretation of symbolical and her sound is motivated through particular detail in happenings of life. As an example of human and environmental soundscape, her work called; ‘Love Hate’ is consisting a series of words which are referred to love and hate relationship. It is a stereo spoken word piece and not as a music but as a natural occurrence, it has background sound of cars and traffic and stereo sounds of human voices that continuously declaring words. Kim Walker is keeping her tracks in natural and daily voices of life forms. Johanna Bramli is a sound artist, composer and performer.

    She is a founding member of Metahub which is an interdisciplinary platform for international, real-time, artistic and cultural meta communication. (9) She lights the way for music by sensory experiences, audience interaction and space perception. She is known as professional musician, performer and constructs her work of art with pop, rock and electronic genres of music. She has compositions, visual performances, site-specific installations and acoustical elements in her works. Her interests are sound textures which developed with vocal compositions and sound manipulations. She has lots of compositions that’s heavily based on sound installation.

    Her interesting work called “BeeHive” is constructed by the idea of creating small door installation. (10) It is structured by sound of bees which she expressed her thoughts based upon the idea of echoing. Actually bees are not existing but the echoing in the beehive and the glitches of the sound which another distorted sound is existing like a creaking sound. It sounds irritable sometimes but the idea of distance between voices is meaningful. Her work entitled “Atom” is an atmospheric sound and evokes a feeling of internalization of the space. “It is performed with 8-channel audio surrounding system.

    It is based on two fundamental sound sources; the human voice and the sine wave – one organic, one processed” (10). Each sound implies one another, creating a dynamic harmony and the frequency that correlated within the two human. Sound is quite meditative and some combination of sounds are motivating the dark tonality. The sound is etherial and the harmony is flooding with softness of the voices. The repetitive back voice(echoing and inhaling human voice) might be capturing the sensitivity of one’s own body and represents the madness of a fragile soul. Caterina Barbieri is an Italian composer and performer.

    She has been playing guitar and had a bachelor degree on Electroacoustic Music in Conservatory in Bologna. Her a thesis is about 3D spatialisation and the perception of time, space and sound spectrum in vertical music. She is also actively participating in audiovisual performances. She is a lecturer which she is currently teaching music. Moreover, she has been performed in various festivals of experimental music in Europe. She has a few albums which her debut album is named “Vertical”.

    She composed the songs in the album by Buchla Modular Synthesizer, also including vocals. She emphasizes on electro-acoustic and minimal bass sounds. She utilizes modular synthesis, three-dimensional spatialisation and psychoacoustic aural sculpture. From my perspective, she creates a dynamic spatial patterns of sound waves and i referred her music as loud, systematic, unequal timbres of synth loops, intense and expression of space sounds. Her music arises from a meditation on primary waveforms, microtonality and the polyrhythm of harmonics, on the boundary between drone, minimalism and techno in multichannel listening environments. Her minimalistic focus is also rooted in the exploration of the stratigraphic potential of voltage-controlled synthesizers, in terms of polyrhythm and polyphony” (12).

    Her works are; Segreto(a composition that combined cello and voice). It consists of two pieces; ‘Perlo’ and “Rose’. The work generates an atmospheric sound. Another work of her is called “Ruota” which means wheel in Italian. It consists of subsequent linear progression. It is generated through voltage-controlled sequencers and reflecting multidimensionality.

    The piece sounds like an inside of a machine, where the controllers lost their way in interrelated patterns of microwaves. She definitely experience a spectrum of thoughts and underlying tha chaos of different waves of sound. She uses her voice in the example of her work called; ‘Polaris’ which gives a dark sensation and the signals in each machinery sound creates a tension between sounds and the intensity of rhythmic patterns are growing as the flow is becoming progressive. For me, her works are unique and unusual because of her capability to use synthesizer and various sound waves influence me in a multi-dimensional ambience. There are certain drone rhythmic patterns which contributes to my comprehension of each sounds in a systematical and cognitive way. The things that she said had influenced me in understanding her aim and her vision on music: “Immersive listening experiences with multichannel systems greatly advance our cognitive and auditory comprehension of music.

    After a certain exposure to the sounds, the spectral spaces underlying the fundamental tones, at first almost ‘inivisible’, come to our consciousness, enlighting an hidden perceptive dimension, that may not be specified in a score but still exists in the mind and in the body of the listener. Such a listening process may enlighten the listener to live the music as an infinitely changing experience (not only as a form), where she/he takes an active position, even a performative role. One can investigate the density of the harmonics and the secrets of their variations in time. One can move the skull horizontally and vertically to evaluate how the perception of the spectrum varies in space; cranial movement offers alternative aural perceptions due to the filtering, phasing and reflection’s phenomena depending on the angular incidence of the wavefronts on one’s ears”(13). All these women are confidently and delicately keep walking on their ways of discovering sound, combining sound with visuals,nature and philosophy, have courageous impact on mixing different sonic patterns and see themselves, also their music as multi-faceted instruments.

    Especially turkish women sound artists are dominant in arranging sounds and expanding these sounds with sites and visual performances. They are very creative and educated well with the techniques and methods of composing a work of art with natural sounds and mostly integrating the sound with their voices. Each of the turkish sound artist are generated their own works by manifesting their motives, emotions and based upon the meaning that attributes to their authentic thoughts. Alternatively, the other sound artists from different places of the world; they are creating a unique sonic structures by themselves, as they practised more on electronic based instruments and programs.

    They manifested the sound as a living organism which fractures inside at first, then reproduce by polyphonic patterns, various tonalities and spread out with multi-dimensional sound waves. Each of these sound artists are very strong, powerful on designing sounds and limitless in creating different and unusual patterns of sound which they are experiencing it through the perception of space, action and formation. I am so happy and feel joyful about doing the research of and comprehending these authentic, original and creative women sound artist. Their works influenced me on breaking the frame of routine and avoiding rigid sounds. Their work is different, out of order and multi-faceted that varied in electro-acoustic, and and psycho-acoustic approach. They are independent and self-deterministic on a way that each sound has been created out of different perception, motivation and sensation of both the physical and internal world.


    1. http://ahkosmos. com/about/2. http://www. basakgunak.

    com/works/3. http://about. me/tuna. pase4. http://www. pninax.

    com/5. http://burcinelmas. com/short-bio/6. http://burcinelmas. com/cv/7.

    http://burcinelmas. com/160/dryad-metempsychosis/8. http://www. kimwalkerart. co.

    uk/Artist-Statement9. https://ekhofemalesound. wordpress. com/2014/11/18/johanna-bramli/10.

    site composition examples; http://www. johannabramli. com/site/compositions/11. https://ekhofemalesound.

    wordpress. com/2014/11/18/johanna-bramli/12. http://www. caterinabarbieri. com/bio/13.

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