Wave Power
Amie Slavin - Wave Power

download : Wave Power by Amie Slavin

Inspiration:

The initial, and admittedly somewhat trivial, inspiration for Wave Power was the pun embedded in the name. Working with sound, as I do, every day, the power of the wave to communicate sound is of huge importance to me personally. Swiftly following on from this are the waves of emotion which are the yardstick I use to measure both my own response to other peoples’ work, and the extent to which my own work works ! Additionally, the internet and computers are fundamental to my own life, as they are to the lives of millions of people, so electro magnetic waves also struck me as important straight away. Once this train of thought was in process, it was impossible not to notice how really every aspect of our lives and especially our so-called civilisation is interwoven with the wave form.

Secondly, although this became the driving motivation for the piece, I am interested in Wave Power as a potential source of sustainable energy production in our future. I am no expert, but logic tells me that wave power is likely to meet our needs far better, as in more neatly and effectively, than wind or solar ever can. In this country we are ideally placed to benefit from the potential of wave power and I wanted, to be honest, an excuse to talk to some people who know much more about it than I do, to see whether my amateur reasoning bears any resemblance to the reality of the situation. I was extremely gratified to find that it does.

Intention:

My intention, in making Wave Power, was to combine an enjoyable and possibly challenging piece of audio entertainment with an attempt to represent some of the very substantial information available on the subject of Wave Power. I hope that listeners will be intrigued by hearing sounds and voices used in ways they are not familiar with, whilst also either learning something directly from the piece, or being inspired to pursue their own research into the subject. My hope is, to be ridiculously grandiose about it, to lend my weight to the cause of getting wave power pushed up the national agenda. It is, in my barely informed opinion, a far more sensible and viable long term way ahead than either wind or solar power in the UK, and I wait with hope and anticipation for the day when the UK smells the coffee in respect of wave power and begins to accord it the attention, respect and especially the investment it truly deserves. To this end, MP3 versions of the edited source interviews used in the piece, Wave Power, are available for download, from this page.

Methodology:

The making of Wave Power had two distinct phases. The first of these was the recording and sound collection phase.

I resisted the lazy urge to use pre-recorded ocean waves, favouring the elbow grease option of collecting sea sounds on the beach at Mablethorpe (the first time I’ve ever been there, due to my middle-class upbringing! It’s much nicer than I expected). I collected computer/modem sounds at home, where I also collected quite a lot of material derived from the FM and AM bands on a terrestrial radio. Last, but most importantly, I recorded interviews as follows:


  • Stephen Salter, emeritus Professor of Engineering Design and specialist in wave and tidal power technology.

  • Jim Dow, retired marine engineer and professional diver with the Royal Navy.

  • Chris Walshaw, surfing enthusiast, musician, farmer, dancer and all-round good guy.

  • Sunshine Gray, musician, multi-media artist and well travelled prawn.


Additionally I recorded my own voice, with some linking words, and used a song I wrote sometime ago, before the inception of this project but reflecting my longstanding interest in the metaphoric and literal impact the sea has on our lives.

The second stage of the creating process took place in the studio:

I edited my various tracks and placed them in time and space, in a multi-track setting. Once I had them in position I mixed the piece live, in sections of 3 to 4 minutes each, adding some effects, such as reverb, resampling, panning and modulation to affect a stereo sweep. Finally, having checked the entire mix for balance both playing out loud and on cans, it mix was compressed and levels re-checked.

The design of Wave Power is such that for much of the 25 minutes of its duration, the texture includes layered voices, speaking about different aspects of wave interaction at the same time. This is a deliberate device to shift the emphasis of the piece from info-tainment to a primarily aesthetic work. However, I fully understand that, for some people, this will be a frustration, meaning, as it does, that the listener cannot easily pay attention to the entirety of the words of any single speaker. For this reason I am making the main source interviews, in their edited form, available here.

You can feel free to download and listen to interviews with :
I was very lucky with this project, to find interviewees who were so demonstrably able and willing to give me lots of brilliant material. I would like to thank all of them, once again, for agreeing to share their vast experience and knowledge with me and, whether here or via Wave Power, with you as well.

Read more about the work of Stephen Salter

Find out more about the work of Sunshine Gray





Since completing Wave Power I have made a companion piece for it, entitled Wave Play.

Wave Play was made for consecutive playback with Wave Power. The two pieces explore and celebrate waves and wave forms in different ways, and from different perspectives. I have combined the pieces into an hour-long playback as follows:

Wave Power – 25 minutes 5 seconds
Wave Play (following immediately) – 10 minutes
Wave Power (repeat play with the stereo pan fipped, reversing the positions of the channels) – 25 minutes, 5 seconds