Blog: The Concepts of Time


Blog by 
Sound Designer

The concepts of time and sound are linked like pairs of chromosomes. Notes change over the course of seconds, and genres over the course of generations.  For this reason, On the Verge, a play structured around time travel, was both extremely difficult, and extremely rewarding. 

It provided a platform for me to explore how to gradually collapse parallel timelines into a single sonic collage, and then how to re-emerge from that collage into a later time period. 

The specific musical trajectory for Act I starts from a place of heavy counterpoint (inspired by Bach), and slowly moves into music where voices move more independently of one another (inspired by Dvorak). The three instruments that play this music are Mandolin, Cello, and Bansuri (though the script indicates ocarina, the Bansuri is a bamboo flute made in South Asia that helps the sound lean into the play’s theme of world travel). 

The second act opens in a confused jumble of old radio commercials, political speeches from male politicians (let’s not forget this play is largely about feminism), and music from a time unknown to us.

The chapter book structure of the first act helps dictate where music goes, but things get a little more difficult when it comes to atmospheric sounds in this play. Since our sister sojourners are are traveling from jungle to swamp to arctic tundra, sound plays more of a dominant role than it normally would in informing the audience of our location.

We are then dropped into 1955 where our heroes live out the rest of their days listening to big bands and lounge crooners. 

Or do they? …