How much can one man handle? The idea for the soundscape Walking on the Bloon came from watching the two characters, Magistrate and Spartan Ambassador, during their rehearsal, and then spontaneously connecting them to a particular sound captured during a dérive. The linking of sound to character is not uncommon. A well-known example is Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf (1936), a composition in which all of the characters are represented by a particular instrument and musical theme.
This soundscape, like Dawn at the Acropolis, begins in darkness during a scene change. The auditor waits eagerly to see who will greet them onstage when the lights come up. The sound tells us; it gives us clues and allows us to imagine. Myers (2011) discusses the technologies of transmitting and receiving sound, and comments on the value of the microphone in capturing voice in an intimate way (p. 75). An auditor can be provided with great detail in the materiality of voice, that is, the sounds made by the body (lips, tongue, breath) in producing the voice. These sounds would normally only be heard if the speaker was very close. The voices in Walking on the Bloon are intimate. They are the sounds of personal suffering. These men are weighed down and in a terrible state. The rhythm of the soundscape reflects the movement of the characters as they enter. The dark and sinister undertones of Walking on the Bloon are balanced with light, airy “lyre-ukulele”, providing some relief for the listener.
Before the characters emerge onstage, I’m sure the auditors will have imagined some bodies for the disembodied voices!
Myers, M. (2011). Vocal landscaping: The theatre of sound in audiowalks. In L. Kendrick & D. Roesner (Eds), Theatre noise: the sound of performance (pp. 70-81). UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.