flutter is about the sounds that were originally on cassettes, either as recordings of kids or music on mixtapes. Originally this piece was thought of as a sound installation but ended up as a fixed-media piece. Making it fixed media allowed for me to have more control over the material. I do enjoy unpredictability in my works but only up to a certain point. This work is not focusing on the unpredictability of the cassette players but on the sound material that exists on the cassettes. Therefore, having it be fixed media is better for now but I am planning to create an installation version of this piece. When I started composing this piece, I meant for it to be performed on an eight- channel speaker system at my graduation concert in June 2020. Because of the unforeseen circumstances caused by Covid-19, I had to change this plan. I composed the piece using headphones and the ambisonic plugin Ambeo Orbit by Sennheiser.
The material used for flutter comes from cassettes I have found both at home and in thrift shops. I used an old cassette of mine that has recordings of my friends and me when we were nine years old. I recorded some samples off that cassette onto a different cassette that already had some classical music on it. The second cassette I used was from thrift store in Iceland labelled “Bat out of Hell – Meat Loaf”. On the cassette was a recording of an Icelandic radio programme called Lög unga fólksins (Songs of the young people) from August 13th 1979. The third cassette came from an answering machine I bought in a thrift store in The Hague. The only material on it was the dial tone and a single message in Dutch.
This piece shows how even if the material chosen to record on cassettes is of familiar things such as voices or favourite music, it will not sound the same when played back through different cassette players. The players, or the cassette itself, all distort the sound in some way. The mistakes I try to highlight are an inevitable and now obsolete artefact of recording. When recording music from the radio, there is only one chance to make it perfect. These artefacts are a thing of the past and can evoke nostalgic feelings.