John Young

  • Year of composition: 1997
  • Duration: 14:08
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISWC: T0603000209


ISRC CAD500214710

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Virtual attempts to convey the idea of an illusory soundscape set in vibrant motion by the wind — an invisible and capricious source of energy for the ‘virtual’ objects in the space, the exact nature of which we are left to imagine. This idea extended partly out of my fascination with the process of making field recordings in the natural environment, where the wind is typically regarded as a pervasive and problematic intruder. But, in fact, the wind is often a part of the sonic signature of a place (especially in the notoriously windy city I was living in when I composed this piece). So I set out to record wind ‘noise’ trying to take advantage of the very active stereo play it produces across a pair of microphones (just as it does across our ear canals). Other sound identities were designed around this idea, mostly derived from turbulent air streams and tube resonances. I also attempted to give some of these complex sound shapes something of the spectral colouration of human vocal resonance, in an attempt to set up a sense of inanimate sounds taking on more animate behaviour. Linked to this are some characteristic patterns of spatial morphology within which these sounds evolve and transform.

Virtual was realized in 1997 in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) and premiered there on April 24, 1997. The work was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 1997 Prix Ars Electronica (Austria), Special Mention at the Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1997) and pre-selected in the 1997 Bourges International Competition for electroacoustic music.


  • April 24, 1997, Concert, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington (New Zealand)