Vertigo - Process:
This piece was inspired by a reading of Sarah Ruhl’s play Eurydice. Before the second movement, Ruhl writes the stage direction “sounds of vertigo.” This got me thinking of how sound can represent the idea and feeling of being high up even on a low stage. To explore these possibilities, I researched film representations of vertigo and dizziness as well as medical studies that explored sound-induced vertigo. I developed a pattern of combined high and low sound to represent physical distance. Then I applied offset panning, phasing and pitch oscillations to the pattern to put the listener off-balance. After creating this sound, I constructed a framework around it.
I needed a device to indicate ascension to a high altitude. Naturally, I used the elevator in the CCRMA building. By splicing together the elevator’s squeaks and beeps and gradually speeding the track up, I created the sense that the elevator was rising faster and faster. I knew I wanted a distorted voice to narrate the piece as both an elevator announcer and at the end an encouraging force. The first automated voice that popped into my head was the door alarm for freshman dorms. I then recorded my own voice and attempted to imitate the quality of the alarm voice through distortion and pitch shifting. The ending is ambiguous, leaving it up to the listener what happens after leaving the elevator.