Max Cooper must be one of the most innovative music producers in the UK right now. Currently performing and developing music for the new 4DSOUND system, Max spares some time to talk about his creative process with Samuel Fry on CreateHub.
You are now creating a 4D experimental sound show. Could you explain what that involves and where the idea came from?
The creators of the system are four Dutch guys called Paul Oomen, Salvador Breed, Poul Holleman and Luc van Weelden. They are essentially music and technology academics. They have been developing a huge structure which consists of 16 columns. Each column contains a number of speakers at different heights in a 4×4 grid which you can walk within.
Each speaker is non-directional. Normal speakers are concave, so the sound is directed towards a point. Whereas these are convex speakers so the sound comes out in all directions. This allows you to play sounds anywhere within a 3D environment, but it also allows you to manipulate the way that those sounds move.
They call it 4D as, within the space, the sound moves across time. For instance, you could start with the sound of someone playing guitar on the roof, but then that sound flies down to your feet and hangs around there for a while. They call it 4D to drive home the fact that the time dimension is under your control as well.
Technically, that is it in a nutshell. But experientially, you are stood inside this big system where sounds come from all directions. It is like clouds of sound are crossing the room. Different sounds then interact in different ways throughout the space. It is a totally immersive sound environment where each piece of music turns into a physical entity. Each piece of music has its own shape. Each piece of music becomes a physical thing that you can explore as you walk around the room.
How did you come across this system in the first place? Did they find you?
Actually, the contact came through Liine. The 4D guys had got in contact with Liine to use their controllers and they hooked me up via that. Then I went to see the system and loved it. So I started working on it and made the first show.
I think that it is fantastic. So you did the first show in Amsterdam around a month ago. How did that go?
It was very different to my usual club show where I go along and drink a bottle of whisky. This was much more carefully constructed. There is a lot of custom software being used, a lot of delicate things going on. It was really rewarding in terms of the artistic experience, but I needed to focus to make sure that everything was working correctly.
During your time working on this, what have you learnt the most?
It is such a different way of writing music. It has made me think about how I can write a new piece of music in a spatial manner. I have always put a lot of spatiality in my music, even with a simple stereo system, but this is different. As I mentioned earlier, it starts to make you consider each piece of music as a physical entity. You think, “If this piece of music was placed in reality, what would it be and how would it behave?”
The show that I did was taking my old music and figuring out what shape each sound should be. This system has taught me that I need to build new pieces of music from the start.
This spatiality is a fundamentally different and new element of music. When you look on Wikipedia for the definition of music, it will give you a list of different things like tonality, timbre, rhythm, dynamic – the traditional ideas of what music is. This is fundamentally a new axiom of what music is.
Read the full interview on CreateHub.