Meet composer Jack Woodbury

In this series, we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Jack Woodbury.

I grew up in Wellington, and I’ve spent the past few years studying sonic arts here at the NZSM. I’ve always been involved in making music in some context or other, but it’s only in recent years that it’s become such a key part of my life.

I grew up playing drums and piano, but fell in love with electronic composition in my last year at high school. Following this, I decided to take the risk and keep going with it at a tertiary level.

From there I’ve ended up developing a focus on ambient and glitch work, and, most often, a combination of the two.

One of the real pleasures of this sort of work is to be able to incorporate recordings of my life into my works. Recordings of Ohariu Valley, where I spend a lot of my time, pop up in various places throughout most of my compositions.

A Tree Falls:
A Tree Falls is a multichannel interactive audiovisual installation that came together in late 2018, just after I finished my undergraduate studies. It was born of some frustration I had with surround works, and the limitations inherent in showing them to audiences.

Producing the installation involved a pretty significant learning curve, as I hadn’t previously attempted to work in an installation context. Nonetheless, I was pretty pleased with the results.

A Tree Falls is comprised of a quadraphonic loudspeaker system and an interactive interface containing some ultrasonic sensors. The installation then presents a series of surround electroacoustic compositions through the speakers. While these play, the sensors pick up whether an audience member has entered the speaker array, and glitch out the playback when this occurs.

Through this, I aimed to demonstrate the role an audience plays in the compositional process of surround works. As you enter the array, there’s a clear, disruptive acoustic signature of your interaction.

I was pretty keen to follow up A Tree Falls as soon as possible, so I started work on CORROSE in early 2019. It was always intended to be a sister installation, and so I chose to again focus on compositional limitations. However, for CORROSE, I aimed to illustrate the problematic role of the loudspeaker, instead.

CORROSE is comprised of eight variously damaged and/or augmented loudspeaker drivers. Like A Tree Falls, this array presents another short series of electroacoustic compositions. However, in reproducing this sound, the driver’s damage and augmentation distort the output. As such, there is a clear acoustic signification of the speaker’s disruptive role in the compositional process.

After I finished up work on A Tree Falls and CORROSE, I had eight electroacoustic works that had only been presented through these installations. I was pretty keen to get them out into the world, and (long story short) they’ve found a perfect home in Rattle Records.

Collected together, and free of their disrupted context, the eight works are presented as inst.19-20. The album’s out now, and CDs are available through Bandcamp

COVID-19 ending up disrupting my plans quite significantly, so I’m yet to figure out what I want to work on next. This said I’ve been playing with the idea of producing some new compositional processes for creating live ambient music. I might change my mind though!

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