Broken Nerve

Simpson, Diana [Composer] (2006) Broken Nerve. (Soundscape). Sao Paulo : Studio PANaroma. Stereo audio. (Musica Maximalista / Maximal Music)


I am fascinated by the fact that electricity can be perceived and experienced in so many different forms. From a bolt of lightning, to mains electricity, unexpected sparks of static to the electric pulses within the human sensory system, our experience of electricity is constantly mutating. It is an inherently organic phenomenon, hence the reference to nerve in the title, yet it is now applied within mainly man-made contexts, as mains electricity – a tool – resulting in its confused personality. I wanted to create a piece which presented electricity as a animate presence, and also reflected a slightly sinister element through ideas of instability. Broken Nerve explores a notion of 'flux' associated with electricity. Its multi-faceted existence is created in the music through many interacting layers of sound. The interruptive ('broken') nature of electricity is mirrored through sudden interjections of seemingly uncontrolled sparks, which articulate and also act as catalysts to textual change. The listener experiences a number of oppositions throughout the work; order and disorder, micro and macro structures, the seemingly tangible alongside the invisible. Implied organic gestural qualities break through, for example the sweeping storm of energy towards the end. However, the 'hum' of earth presents a strand (‘nerve’) of relative continuity and stability within this environment, and is a returning motif. The sound material for this piece was gathered from metallic objects, improvisation using bare wires and a mixing desk, and recording arc welding. I am grateful to the technical department of the RSAMD, Glasgow for their help with the latter.

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