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Digi-Social Echo Chamber: Charlottesville

Performed and Recorded at Perth Town Hall 2017

This piece was created in response to the theme of the 2017 Totally Huge New Music Festival, Embracing the Irrational In a World of Post-Truth. It was performed by large ensemble.

Inside a figurative echo chamber, official sources often go unquestioned and different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. Now more than ever, this phenomenon is intensified as people's opinions are reinforced through the consumption of digital media in the networks they choose to immerse themselves in, leading to a distortion of the truth.

During recent social and political events in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, an extremist Right-wing rally was met with Left-wing counter-protesters and ended with a person driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person. Donald Trump failed to strongly condemn the involvement of neo-nazis in the rally, which lead to highly-charged discourse from politicians, news media and personal opinion about what groups were being represented there, who was responsible for the violence, and what actions were justifiable.






















Photo Credit  (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)

In three short movements, this piece uses spectral data from analysis of source recordings of when the car ploughed into the crowd, the protester chants and screams, and the ensuing rhetoric of politicians, radio commentators and news media thereafter, as a basis to inform the score. The score, which was designed from electronic synthesis techniques and sampling, was performed entirely by acoustic ensemble.

Movement 1:

  • Source recordings from the crowd chants and noises.

  • Using the software PaulStretch, I took 15 seconds of audio of the moment the car ploughed into people, and stretch over 2:30.



















Movement 2:

  • Recordings sourced from internet of speeches/interviews from radio shows, politicians and media from both left and right political spectrum.

  • Arranged in DAW with one channel politically Left, and other track politically Right. I then side-chained these to each other, meaning that the loudest signal would be the one that is heard.

  • Additional synth gestures were improvised.



Movement 3:

  • Bitonality representing the left and right political spectrum. Two triads (E Dim and Bb dim) are taken from the Octatonic Scale (outer notes are E’s 2 octaves apart). All notes microtonally converge to unison. Metaphorically, the outer notes represent polar opposite viewpoints and the convergence demonstrates how the opinions become homognenised through the echo chamber phenomenon. To do this I had 2 synths, each generating sine waves. I wrote in the chords and automated the pitch so that they converges over 1:17.






























I then exported each movement as an audio file.


Using Sonic Visualiser;

  • I  created a Spectrogram for each wav. (different to above)

  • I tweaked the colours and intensity

  • Created proportionate grand staff

  • And then screened grabbed the scrolling spectrogram.


Using Adobe After Effects


  • Arranging video

  • Annotated the score

  • Colour Effects

  • Final render


For performance


  • Syncronished 6 iPads

Digi-Social Echo Chamber - 1st Mov. - Ryan Burge
00:00 / 00:00
Digi-Social Echo Chamber - 2nd Mov. - Ryan Burge
00:00 / 00:00
Digi-Social Echo Chamber 3rd Mov. - Ryan Burge
00:00 / 00:00

Full PDF

Photo credit Bohdan Warchomij

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