What’s in a hum?

Here’s a little more info on the Hums (temporary title) piece I am working on:

The humming piece I am planning aims to, among other things, make those experiencing it as spectators become suddenly aware of their sonic surroundings. The plan is to make the humming of the performers start imperceptibly, then crescendo slowly until evident and sustain loudly for a while, before repeating the process in reverse and fading out to leave the ambient hum bare.

With this piece, then, I aim to bring to the attention of the public a sound characteristic of a given space and which mostly* goes either unnoticed or ignored.

I have chosen to do so by using a small crowd of (briefed) humming performers, in part because this plays on the word “hum”, but also because using the human voice in this context is very practical, as it allows me to carry out the piece without creating excessive disruption in the location I have chosen or having to worry about the piece being halted by security before it has a chance to begin. Humming to oneself in public, after all, is not forbidden…

Furthermore, I like the simplicity of using the human voice in this context, I like the fact that with sufficient planning and preparation anyone could create a piece like this, that the materials for its execution are readily available to anyone.
In addition, because the human voice is personal and characteristic of each individual, maybe this will mean that something of the performers, through their voices, will be permanently embedded in the surroundings and left behind as a memory within the ambient hum.

Also, because the fading in and out will be gradual, the boundaries between human humming and ambient hum will become blurred, the hum then becoming part of the piece and permanently extending it both in the past and future.

This piece, once fully ideated, could also be adapted to and used to explore other ambient hums in different spaces.

*I say “mostly” because I do not claim to be the only person who has noticed it or enjoys listening to it…


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