“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
– Bertolt Brecht, Motto.
With the world grinding to a standstill as a result of the COVID-19 virus, we as a collective turn once more to the arts as a means of unifying us and holding onto hope. Television, music, film, crafts, culinary arts – it is through creation that we endure.
The virus has halted many processes and projects dead in their tracks, forcing people to reinvent their creations for a digital world. This term’s iteration of the Waller Creek Earth Day Project, also referred to as the Creek Monster Project, is no exception.
As a member on the audio team for this project, we were originally responsible for creating a soundscape near the Service Building that students could escape to, where our calming ambient compositions would flow into the natural ambience of Waller Creek itself. The soundscape would have included communal hammock racks for students to relax in, ample shade from the trees’ foliage, and perhaps some tabled seating as well. The site would have also been the meeting place for multiple guided yoga events, hosted with help from Healthy Horns.
A secondary soundscape was also planned to be placed in front of the Bass Concert Hall, which would play various environmental wellness pledges from students and faculty across all of UT. A variation of the ambience at the student soundscape would have been playing in the nest installation as well.
However, with social distancing and self-quarantine being a must in order to preserve personal wellness, these plans are now being either repurposed or documented and stowed away for the distant future.
Our Work, Pre-Pandemic
Prior to this virus, our team had achieved many of our goals towards creating the soundscapes. Speaker placement, cable lengths, and audio flow are all planned out, with the cables all cut and labeled properly. The compositions are all complete and set up in software for recurring playback throughout the day. A final cable to run the length under the bridge near the student soundscape was awaiting delivery, and possibly more cables would be required for the Bass Concert Hall soundscape. The logistics of setting up the sound system itself also needs some polish.
With the circumstances the way they are, my team will be dividing what has been done and what remains to be done into two categories: elements that can be repurposed and elements to save for a future date. We plan to create a design document that will allow future teams to pick up where we left off with ease, as well as work with the other sub-teams to see how our audio can be reused. As we were also working on hosting yoga events, we will instead look for online resources that are readily available for anyone to follow along with yoga routines at home.
We face a plethora of challenges of course, most of which boil down to inconsistencies in available resources, the difficulties of remaining in communication, and the ever-growing feeling of despair followed by the subsequent lack of motivation I have seen arising in my peers; however, we will remain steadfast and face them together through regular check-ins and maintaining flexibility on expectations and goals. For even in the darkest of times, there will be music.