Q&A with Jaydev Mistry about recording HOME’s empty spaces

We caught up with Manchester-based composer, guitarist and music technologist, Jaydev Mistry to talk about the process behind creating Empty, a new soundscape created from the sounds of HOME’s spaces that were left empty during lockdown.

Q: What is Empty?

JM: Empty is a musical exploration of the sonic characteristics that are inherent within enclosed spaces and buildings. Specifically, the architectural acoustics intrinsic to HOME that define its obvious and hidden auditory ambience when it is unpopulated with people and in particular during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Q: What gave you the idea to record HOME’s empty spaces?

JM: I was particularly interested in HOME because architecturally it’s a unique building with vastly different types of spaces, ranging from the large foyer/bar area to the very intimate theatres and cinemas.

Q: How did you go about making the recordings?

The process involved going into the various spaces and making a number of recordings in different parts of each space.

I then used a spectrum analyser to visualise the frequency content of the recordings. Spectrum analysers give you a graphical representation of what’s happening in the frequency range of your audio recording. This allowed me to obtain a plot of dominant frequencies within a portion of the audio recording. Using this process I was able to find specific notes and harmonics that could be used in a musical context.

I then processed these sounds using spectrum filtering and synthesis techniques to create the instrumentation you hear throughout the composition which in turn formed the underscore for the guitar.

Q: Were there any spaces that made particularly unusual or unexpected sounds?

I found some amazing ambient sounds, for example low level hums, creaking, percussive and various types of droning sounds.

Q: Were you surprised by the sounds you discovered in the empty building?

It felt odd entering HOME having only ever been in there when it was bustling with people and activity, at first, eery and disconcerting but it felt good to be in the space again. As a musician this was a rare opportunity to sonically document the building and coupled with the photographs Arvind Mistry took I hope I have created an interesting sonic insight for the audience of HOME at rest.

  • You can listen to Empty via the website by clicking here.