Study in Ink

Adrian Moore

  • Year of composition: 1997
  • Duration: 1:14
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISWC: T9016939256


ISRC CAD500014060

Study in Ink is a single-source piece: a recording of a marker pen on a whiteboard. Whilst writing on a whiteboard I noticed how, as the pen became dry, it began to make very interesting noises that could be used musically. (For many people this class of sounds is simply ‘noise’ to be avoided since the majority of the sounds of the marker pen lies within the 1,000 to 4,000 hertz frequency range; one of the more sensitive regions of hearing.)

After the initial source-recording process, the combination of tones and noises and their movement within the stereo field gave rise to quite complex material. With further equalization and sound treatment I obtained relationships of pitch, dynamics, speed and gesture. The pen moved from a wispy air-like sound through screeching tones and finally to a slip-grip grating sound. In developing this material, I turned to frequency-shifting to provide longer gestures over a wider frequency bandwidth. This hierarchy of gestures formed the basis of the work: long tones underpinning or overhanging smaller combinations of gestures.

The form of the work is centered upon moments of tension and relaxation, moments of joy and moments of sadness, but always tinged with a little humor. The fleeting gestures of the pen are contrasted with sections of imposed rigidity which include pulsed structures. The natural pitch-contour of the pen gives rise to some very human qualities such as sighing (descending gestures) and questioning (quick ascending gestures).


Study in Ink was realized in 1997 in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and premiered in 1997 at the Discoveries series in Aberdeen (Scotland). Study in Ink received the 2nd prize ex æquo at the Hungarian Radio’s EAR’97 International Competition of Electroacoustic Music (Budapest, Hungary, 1997).


  • 1997, Discoveries, Aberdeen (Scotland, UK)