Last fall, Suzanne Thorpe conducted 4 days of site research at Manitoga to inform the creation of her New Music USA supported work Resonance and Resemblance to performed at Manitoga on September 30 of this year.
Day one was spent hiking the site’s 2 miles of trails while paying close attention to the environmental sounds essential to the experience. She notes in her activity diary how Manitoga’s creator, midcentury industrial designer Russel Wright, laid out his woodland paths with sound in mind by incorporating wood bridges, stone paths, rocks, moss and other materials. Later, she inspected the existing sound system infrastructure, previously installed at Manitoga by sound engineer Paul Geluso to determine its status and usefulness to her efforts.
On the second and third days, Thorpe hung small speakers in the Quarry Pool area to further test the sound system, then headed out onto the Quarry Pool’s surface in a kayak to experiment with a recorder and an Irish whistle. Later, the composer had two players in kayaks play simple repetitive figures with the instruments while she stayed on shore, recording the results as well as observing the acoustic effects of landscape and the aesthetics of the vessels.
For her final day on site, the composer conducted a number of sound experiments testing the acoustic reflectivity of a variety of surfaces. She also conducted electronic frequency sweeps and white noise tests to help determine the Quarry Pool environment’s resonant frequencies. These experiments were recorded for analysis. Finally, two long field recordings were made to further study Manitoga’s sound environment. Throughout her visit, Thorpe consulted with Manitoga’s Landscape Manager Emily Phillips, using her knowledge to help inform the composer’s approach to the site.