by Alejandra Molina
At the young age of 15, Tom Skelly began collecting old music records.
Now the studio artist is a host of “The Sound of Pictures” on KSPC 88.7 FM.
He visited the University of La Verne to present a sound art lecture, held at the Art and Communications Building on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
The lecture consisted of early sound art beginning in the year 1913 to sound art from the present day.
He began with a piece called “Awakening of the City,” which was used in the context of an orchestra.
“These pieces were not intended to be masterpieces,” Skelly said.
Skelly then introduced the musical piece, Mechanical Ballet, which he said made a psychological impact on its audience. “The exposure of its sound made an effect on people,” Skelly said.
Later in the lecture, Skelly spoke about John Cage, a sound art composer from Los Angeles. In Cage’s compositions, his main theme was indeterminacy, meaning that a variety of things are occurring at the same time.
Cage worked with composer David Tudor and composed one-minute stories. These stories were a mix of electric sounds made by Tudor along with Cage’s voice to describe the events that were occurring around them.
A different style of sound art came from Annea Lockwood, who used natural phenomenon in her work. She composed a piece called Water, in which she included the rhythms and dynamics that water contains, said Skelly. During 1969, there was James Tenny, whose main theme was acoustic illusion.
“His conceptual pieces tested the patience of the audience,” Skelly said.
Towards the end of the lecture, Skelly talked about the power of the radio. As an example, he used the 1938 broadcast of “The War of the Worlds,” which was a radio broadcast. This piece was broadcasted on Halloween night and its audience believed the media most panicked; some even killed themselves at the thought that martians were invading the country.
Lastly, Skelly introduced the audience to some of his pieces he has currently worked on.
“There are beautiful mixes that go on during your day,” Skelly said. “It’s a great feeling to mix these sounds.”