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Recording, musical

Peer reviewed


Apparitions attempts to articulate a very personal response to the evocative qualities of four sounds, recorded in different locations: a train blasting its horns while passing through a small US town; part of the intoned Ave Maria from a church in Florence; an ensemble of hunting horns from Cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Bourges and; an evening chorus of cicadas from near Bolzano in Italy. In addition an impulse response of a single hand clap recorded in Mahler’s last composing hut in Dobbiaco (also in Northern Italy) participates in much of the audio processing. The attempt to amalgamate these sonic images emerged from an emotionally charged experience. In 2014 I spent one night in Bowling Green Ohio, where I was to have stayed for two weeks working on a composition project at BGSU. Early that evening I had the devastating and disorienting news that my father had died quite suddenly and I made immediate plans to travel to my hometown in New Zealand. What sleep I had that night was broken several times by the horns of freight trains slowly moving through Bowling Green, just a short distance from my 4th floor apartment. I returned there six months later to fulfil my original planned project to find that, as before, trains would wake me with their unpredictable appearances. Although inextricably linked to the trauma of that night six months earlier, my response was that, rather than being a disturbance, the wailing horns of these ‘beings’ took on a curiously comforting presence : a cry marking a moment in their inevitable passage to an unknown other place … solemn, triumphant, yet insouciant. I responded with similar sentiment to the calm, resolving strength projected by the ritual recitation of the intercession ‘Santa Maria, Madre di Dio, prega per noi peccatori, adesso e nell'ora della nostra morte …’ while the intensity evoked in the rich buzz of the Armistice Day french horns and the cool haze of evening cicadas seemed to complement the impression of a call receding into a deeper physical space or spiritual state. In the context of the work, fragments of these sounds become apparitions—as though torn from memory—foreshadowed, supplemented and thrown into relief by timbral colouration, hints of pitch and dynamic spatialisation. The work is in four subtitled sections :

I Passage (from 0’00’’) II Hall of mirrors (from 6’56’’) III Emergence (from 11’51’’) IV To the ether (from 14’59’’)


Commissioned by Distractfold Ensemble, Manchester. To be premiered at the Bludenz Festival, Austria, November 2017.


Acousmatic music, multichannel composition, musical imagery


Young, J. (2016) Apparitions, 8 channel acousmatic composition, dur 17'20"


Research Institute

Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)