Through further experimentation, I've found that granular synthesis effectively achieves textures of fragmentation that complement the piece's soundscape. Using the granular synthesis module in Max, I've been able to think past the details of making individuals segments work together and compose the interacting sonic textures and overarching structure more intentionally.
So far, I've used granular synthesis to treat a sample of extended techniques I recorded on the yangqin and an electroacoustic composition of mine entitled "The Conversation." One function they currently serve is as a way to transition between the songs that mark the beginning, centre, and end of the piece, and segments of improvisation on yangqin. The intersecting textures create a dynamic bed of sound upon which I intend to layer sparse acoustic playing and harmonic drones generated by the resonance of the yangqin (my next task). At this point, I expect that I will be investing more energy in composing these textures and manipulating them onstage through a MIDI controller in between playing the pieces, and triggering some segments while playing. I'm still interested in working with reactive sampling for some parts of the piece, but to ensure these textures don't overpower each other, I believe it will be best to work with them in a more controlled way.
These sources represent different elements of my practice that are informing the piece. By reconfiguring these source sounds into randomised textures and composing with them, weaving them together, I'm attempting to musically represent the psychological process that the piece comments on: taking the fragments of one's "sources" and weaving together a cohesive narrative. I've included two rough unmixed samples of the textures below.
The resulting amalgamation of sounds represents a synthesis of the different styles of sound-making I have worked in: traditional and contemporary yangqin playing, alt-folk songwriting, soundscape composition, and recorded conversation. The end product is intact, if unstable. And this sense of cohesive instability is an essential feature of the creation. It evokes one formulation of the transcultural self: an ever-shifting vessel through which intersecting forces (cultural, psychological, philosophical) converge and coalesce.
At times, certain textures emerge and can be heard over others, before they dip back down into an underlying murmur again while another sound takes the foreground. This mirrors the way certain influences, cultural practices, and aspects of our personalities interact within us and surface alternately in different circumstances. Perhaps what is heard, though, is what the audience is listening for. In a crowded room filled with dialogue, the words that stand out tend to be the ones that pique one's interest -- striking a subconscious chord -- or simply the ones spoken in one's own language.