Simpson, Diana [Composer] (2010) Papyrus. (Soundscape). Portugal : Miso Records. Audio (Stereo). (Electronic Music (Musica Viva Competition Prize Winners), no. Volume I)


Almost all source material in Papyrus is derived from recordings of a variety of paper, from notepaper to large sheets of wallpaper. I recorded much of this material during the creation of a soundtrack for a theatre production of The Yellow Wallpaper, based on the novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A site-specific production of the theatre adaptation was directed by Rob Drummer and performed at the Manchester Museum in May 2008. While composing the soundtrack I was fascinated by the intricate sonic details present in the closely recorded paper and was keen to explore their potential further in a standalone acousmatic concert work. As a result, Papyrus explores the wide variety of spatial motions, trajectories and perspectives which can be created through the manipulation of this seemingly simple and lifeless material. Through the course of the work the sounds of paper gather energy and they form increasingly animated behaviours within a changing abstract landscape. There are four sections, each one seemingly revealed through a metaphorical ‘tearing’ of the wallpaper. This work exists independently of the theatre soundtrack. However the transformations in this piece reflect the behaviour of the woman behind the wallpaper in the novel: a development from hypnotic creeping in the shadows to ‘mechanical and ugly movements’ in a ‘twisting and twisted dance.’

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