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by Costas Dafnis



(Excerpt from live performance in San Francisco)

In March 2016 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released audio captured by a specially designed hydrophone which had been lowered very slowly to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, an area called Challenger Deep. The recordings revealed a surprising amount of noise both from the ocean floor and carried underwater from miles away.

This piece uses Max to process the original NOAA audio, freeze a series of tiny grains of sound (~.005 of a second) and apply a shaped envelope to them. This is looped and repeated quickly to make it resemble one continuous drone. The granularity forces the ear to isolate just a few pitches at different hierarchies, but because of the nature of organic sound the complexity of these drones can be phenomenal.

In Mariana, the singer gives voice to Tennyson’s 1830 poem of despondent isolation and hopeless abandonment by carefully listening to these drones, determining a fundamental, overtones, and timbre and following a score written intervallically relative to characteristics of the surrounding sound world. Each performance will be unique, as it is practically impossible to recreate a drone after it is passed and two singers may perceive the same drone with slightly different sonic hierarchy.


released May 11, 2016
Kumiko Sakamoto, soprano



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Costas Dafnis San Francisco, California

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