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Dry Rivers


This piece was inspired by a trip thgouh the Western part of New South Wales, Australia. The country is semi-arid rather than desert, and covered by low scrub. It is very flat, and changes imperceptibly over hundreds of kilometres. Every river we came to, except one, was dry.

The piece uses digital synthesis, specifically, fractal waveforms. There are nine parallel lines of sound, each with a different sub-audio frequency (the slowest repeating every 6 seconds). However, the waveforms are sufficiently complex to allow each cycle to be heard as a distinct sound. The slowest waveform can be heard towards the end of the piece as a series of clicks 6 seconds apart. The timbres of the waveforms change slowly throughout the piece.

The nine lines consist of "phrases" arranged in a simple fractal-like manner. The dual use of fractals at the waveform level and at the phrasal level helps to give the impression of something that is always the same, yet always changing.

This piece was awarded an honourable mention in the 1996 Prix Ars Electronica.