Clay Gold – Distortion 6
Symposium of Acoustic Ecology, University of Kent, Medway. November 8/9 2013.
"The piece requires one good quality full-range loudspeaker, a Fender Champ, a fuzzbox and a means with
which to play the source material. This is a dual-mono, acousmatic piece, and the loudspeaker
might feasibly be placed in a separate room to the Champ, or they might be facing away from each other,
depending upon the space.
Sounds that are produced in nature are not necessarily perceived accurately by humans, and
they are not always interpreted with any great precision either. Music provides a cultural analogy
for this, in that different styles provoke different responses, or interpretations, from people.
Under pressure from the world with which we are interfacing all of the time, we primarily
reveal spontaneous reactions to stimulus which we later develop into solid responses, which
ultimately define us as individuals. The temptation to push information rapidly to its limits is strong
when we are under duress. We may distort information and later feel obliged to retract the
distortion; or, alternatively, persevere with it. The urge to be heard is stronger than the desire to be
Nature, defined as 'The material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing
independently of human activities' (Dictionary.com, n.d) operates a system of connectivity, an
ecology, a unity of operations which is consistent the world over. While according to Texas A&M
University: 'Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values,
attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion … and material objects and possessions acquired by a
group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving' (tamu.edu, n.d).
Culture will be as utterly diverse as the historical or geographical references of the human
beings contributing to it. If distortion is 'to twist out of a proper or natural relation of parts' or to
'misrepresent information' (thefreedictionary.com, n.d), then the mind distorts incoming signal at
both the input and processing stages of the body before producing results via the output of the
mouth or the body in the form of speaking, writing or signalling. Sound carries meaning, and
meaning captures our attention. Language carries two meanings, those of content and tone, and is
therefore doubly attention-grabbing.
In a sense, distortion is a series of assumptions made almost instantaneously about the
environment. This could even be a further definition of Culture. The trait of manipulating truth or
Nature into new information which benefits us temporarily is extremely useful and has been
inherited successfully and will continue to be transmitted.
Culture = human distortion of Nature
By way of demonstrating this, the piece 'Distortion 6' requires that the
loudspeaker will diffuse several clean, mono recordings of natural soundscapes, with no audible
man-made sounds. In the Fender Champ, or second loudspeaker, will be heard a simultaneous, distorted copy
of the same recording."
Clay Gold, Canterbury 2013