I Am Sitting In A Room 

First a few words about Alvin Lucier's Piece "I Am Sitting In A Room".  It begins like this - the text explains what happens:  

Lucier beginning.mp3

After a while, his voice becomes changed by the resonance of the room : (after 5 minutes, 10, 15 & 26 minutes)

Lucier 5min.mp3

Lucier 10min.mp3

Lucier 15min.mp3

Lucier 26min.mp3

Finally the piece finishes as Lucier promised - his words have been transformed into a soundscape made up of all the natural frequencies of the room, articulated by speech. 

Lucier ending.mp3


In 2001 I became obsessed with this piece, and as an improvising, performing musician I was keen to make a live version of the process, creating site-specific soundscapes.  My first attempt was to use 2 modified cassette-tape machines a metre or so apart, with the tape travelling from the recorder to the player, as shown in the first photo:  This system did not work to my satisfaction, and in 2003 I was able to improve it by using delay-effect pedals, shown in the second photo:

All through 2003, 2004 & 2005 I used this system in a variety of live settings, both as a solo performance and in ensembles.  A number of videos can be seen via the Events/Archive tabs for these years, and also on my YouTube site.  Perhaps the best example, however is the recording I made in Hornsey Pumphouse: here is an edited version, the full version is also on my YouTube site. 

Now going back to Alvin Lucier's piece, he says “I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now...” What he doesn't say is that he is alone in the room, with the doors and window closed, and with the radio and the airconditioning turned off!

In other words, he is operating in an extremely quiet environment. As I discovered during my 2 years of performing with my Resonation system, this environment is essential for the process to work. Whenever I performed in a noisy club or in an ensemble with other players the result was simply nothing like the wonderful soundscape that Alvin Lucier's piece produced. Performing solo in an otherwise silent space remains something that I do, but it's a bit of a dead end, and doesn't allow me to perform with other people.

As a result I decided to investigate other methods of achieving the Lucier final soundscape, but without using a quiet room as part of the equipment. It took me all of 2006 and 2007 to develop my new laptop-based system which I dubbed Reson8.


 My Resonation system is an implementation of Alvin Lucier's process in 'I Am Sitting In A Room'.  Reson8, however implements the sound of the piece.

Reson8 uses stored samples of spoken text or live sampling of speech or instuments. These sounds are transformed by a process of spectral stretching akin to the multiple echoes in 'I Am Sitting In A Room' to produce a result very close to that produced in my Resonation system under ideal, quiet conditions. The difference is that the ambient sounds do not get amplified and mixed up in the soundscape, so a higher level of noise is possible. Here is a solo example; you will hear birds singing and people speaking, but these sounds do not upset the soundscape I am producing. 

Two further examples:  Firstly an example using live instrumental sounds as well as stored speech samples. 

The final example is exactly what I hoped to be able to do over a decade ago, when I first became obsessed with 'I Am Sitting In A Room'. Live sampling of Adam Bohman's words producing a Lucier-like soundscape:  

Reson8 Performance Practice

For more detail on how I use Reson8 in performance go to the Reson8 tab.

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