The Walk – ambient music

Submission for the Urban Soundscape Competition, Sapporo Art Festival 2014

The layers of chords, fading in and out throughout the piece, were recorded on a zither (a string instrument, a distant relative of the Japanese koto), which was tuned in the traditional Japanese In Sen scale (D, Eb, G, A, C). It was recorded with 2 contact microphones and then further processed.

Zither used on 'The Walk'.

Zither used on 'The Walk'

The repetitive piano motifs are also loosely based on the scales derived from the In Sen scale.

The background sound was created using long radio waves static noise between the stations (cosmic radiation) and the sound of sea waves, blended together with the vocoder. Reminiscent of a noise generated by a Geiger counter, it is a tribute to people of all nations who lost their lives due to the abuse of nuclear power, and to all life forms forced to live in the contaminated zones.

The layers of chords fading in and out (not unlike the sea tides), the sound waves themselves, the sea waves and radio waves are all examples of the same perpetual wave motion, continually permeating our lives. They symbolise the cycle of life and death, searching and discovery, engagement and withdrawal.

The morse code message, repeated twice in the piece, says “Sapporo International Art Festival 2014”.

… .- .—. .—. —- .-. —- / .. -. - . .-. -. .- - .. —- -. .- .-.. / .- .-. - / ..-. . … - .. …- .- .-.. / ..—- ——- .—— ….-

The main climax and the loudest point (ca 5’15”) is exactly in the golden middle of the piece. The golden proportion was also used to shape various other elements of the composition.

The title is a reference to a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

“The Walk”

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has its inner light, even from a distance –

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

"The Walk" by Rainer Maria Rilke (1924) - translated by Robert Bly


This work is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND (Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works).

Thumbnail photo by Shane Gavin ( - CC-BY

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