Otautahi is an experimental music composition drawing upon the extreme oscillating phenomenon of an earthquake. The piece was inspired by composer Arran Poole’s experience of a string of over five thousand earthquakes in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which decimated the city and lead to the deaths of almost two hundred people in February, 2011. 

The piece attempts to engage with this phenomenon on a uniquely personal level, depicting the trauma, the panic, and the existential fear that Arran considers to be embodied not simply in the physical experience of an earthquake, but in the sonic profile as well. Referring to his own vivid memories – and taking further cues from scientific readings made by New Zealand’s seismologist community – this piece will recreate the sounds that accompanied a selection of the quakes Arran experienced in Christchurch. 

Varying in intensity and scale, the work will present impressions of barely audible, subterranean shudders, and large cacophonous bursts of energy that momentarily flood and overwhelm the space. Part artistic recreation, part sonic documentary, the piece aims to evoke the myth of an impending seismic event, and provide an insight into the trauma, terror, and fear that experiencing such an event entails. 

OTAUTAHI “Broken windows in Christchurch, following September 2010 earthquake” Arran Poole

About the artist: 

Arran Poole is a composer and sound artist. He studied as an undergraduate under British Systems composer Christopher Hobbs, and as a postgraduate researcher under classical pianist, Julian Hellaby. With an interest in twentieth-century avant-garde music, sample culture, soundscape studies, and musical instrument design, Arran’s creative output focuses upon ambient and drone music, often produced by unusual and experimental means. Projects that Arran has been involved with have been screened throughout Europe, the US, and further afield. Recently, Arran was part of the production team responsible for the quirky short film, Wind, which won Encounter Film Festival’s 0117 Challenge, and was included in Shetland Art’s ‘Hansel of Film’ relay from Lerwick to Southampton. Arran has a particular interest in experimental instrument design, and performs regularly using a resonant sound-sculpture called a ‘bow chime’.