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The beauty of sonic waste: the transformation of sound debris and junk objects within environmentally based compositional practice – a methodology

Rogers, Paul, John (2017) The beauty of sonic waste: the transformation of sound debris and junk objects within environmentally based compositional practice – a methodology. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The beauty of sonic waste is a practice-as-research project that contributes to new knowledge through the development of a sonic waste methodology and experiential insights within new compositions. Sonic waste is an alignment of a range of previously unconnected disciplines that collectively incorporate noise, junk objects and extraneous, sounds. The line of enquiry develops an empowering methodology in transforming waste to beauty, in this line of enquiry this is taken to mean the transformation of sounds and objects generally considered unwanted, to a condition of wanted. A holistic, ecological approach is adopted with themes of environmental awareness informing the methods adopted with the compositions. This complementary writing discusses the conceptual and critical topics informing the practical outcomes, and highlights the insights achieved from this approach within the wider methodology. In particular, the disciplines of Acoustic Ecology and Media Archaeology are aligned with the practice. The line of enquiry followed in this study revealed that the engagement within these related fields provided fertile strategic approaches in the development of the compositions. Throughout the critical writing it is argued that this proposed organisation and compositional appropriation of the ever-increasing sonic waste in society produces a positive and pro-active approach to both the understanding and abatement of junk sounds and objects. Through the implementation of this methodology it is possible to engage audiences and contribute to conditions leading towards pro-active change in our understanding of the environmental issues of noise and object pollution. The practice encourages recycling and repurposing waste materials and promotes an awareness of the effects of noise in the environment. The practice portfolio includes a range of outcomes including stereo recordings, live performance, theatre, film soundtracks and sound installations. Four compositions have been selected as case studies, the first two of which are discussed in detail. A wide range of additional studies and compositions were also undertaken to provide focused research insights. These studies fed into the selected compositions and are discussed at appropriate points.

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