The Natural Sounds of Japan
On April 13, 2017, Other Minds and the David Brower Center presented another event in our Nature of Music series, featuring sound designer Andrew Roth. Andrew’s work ranges from audio CDs of natural sounds to creating sound environments for amusement parks, radio, television, film and video games. His work not only evokes a sense of place but also of time, notably recreations of sound worlds that no longer exist, e.g., the 1850’s SF Barbary Coast and SF’s Playland at the Beach (1913-72).
Much of his work can be viewed through the lens of musical composition. Unlike most classical or popular music, the sound pieces don’t follow standard structures. As compositions in sound they could be considered through-composed or rhapsodic: the dictates of the musical forms are based on intuition, personal aesthetics, and the internal logic and external parameters of the sound world being created. Mr. Roth’s work is exquisitely crafted, similar to the way that a conductor balances the sections of an orchestra. Particularly in his historical recreations, anachronistic sounds are not allowed to intrude.
A native San Franciscan, Andrew is a graduate of Oberlin College in history and ethnomusicology, formerly a sound designer for Earwax Productions, and then the founder of his own company, Roth Audio Design. The example below is a track called “Suikinkutsu,” taken from his CD, Natural Sounds of Japan.