The Sound of ENTER21 and IFITT:

An Interview with the producer derkalavier

We asked ourselves how to create a special mood or experience at an online event. Music came to our mind – so we asked a professional producer to create a sound logo for us.  Here are some insights in this work and his ideas about the logo and the playlist you heard in the main hall during the conference:

How did you come up with the sound? What are the indications that have moved you?

Derkalavier: Knowing the sound logo will be representing the ENTER21 conference, as well as the IFITT, I started looking at what that could mean and what I wanted it to sound like. (I had no idea before what IFITT or ENTER was)

Splitting up the name of the IFITT I knew it had to sound international (I), technological (IT) and touristic (T). Taking the slogan of the ENTER21 conference it was clear what it would feel like in order to make it uniquely fitting: A transformation of sound would be happening (Change) from organic to digital (Future) while feeling clear, stable and consistent (Matters). All of these keywords are also being used in the musical language.

You have studied music production – is there a way to learn to create music for feelings or meanings?

Derkalavier: Yes, it is a theory we learned and trained for in our study program. It is called 3rd level theory (by Prof. Rob Maas) The 3rd level theory splits music or sound into three levels:

1st Level: Music – theory, frequencies, ink on paper […] 2nd Level: Sound – a specific instrument being used ,a special shape/manipulation to the sound being played and so on
3rd Level: Emotion – How does it make you feel?

As you can imagine, only the 3rd level is actively experienced by the listener. That’s why the theory starts on the 3rd level (what should it feel like), building the sound back to the 1st level as described in the following paragraph.

So what can we learn from sound logo for IFITT/ENTER21?

I usually give each of the three drafts I produce for a job like this a unique name and message. Nothing that anyone would have to recognize but something to give me a certain feeling about each individual piece of sound as well as a starting point. The final logo’s name is „Plucked Bits“ with it’s message:

A single event can start a chain reaction with massive impact.

Jumping into the future begins traditionally but ends in digital innovation, spreading around the globe.

It’s happening now and it’s happening quick.

Using the 3rd level theory I start from the 3rd level (emotion) and connect it to the introductory thoughts about the sound logo, transforming into the 2nd level (sound). Keep in mind that everything is happening extremely fast (it’s happening now and it’s happening quick).

At first you’ll hear a gamelan (a traditional Indonesian ensemble of instruments), layered with a bulbul tarang (a stringed instrument, spread in different variations all over India, Pakistan […] up Japan or the Maldives islands) and a distant piano. Followed by a by a reversed kalimba (trad. African instrument) building tension to a synthesizer hit, sparkling in wide spread bits, layered with a plucked piano string. All of this is a specific description of what is actually happening on the 2nd level (sound).

In an abstract view we have an international and touristic world of organic sounds being transformed into something digital (jumping into the future begins traditionally but ends in digital innovation, spreading around the globe).
Looking at the 1st level (theory) there’s an actual wide jump happening. All we have is a total of two notes but in a distance of 10 (minor seventh) out of 12 semitones (octave). Making it almost the biggest possible jump from one note to the another within an octave. The last note was described as „sparkling in wide spread bits“. So to be fair, there’s more than just two notes. There are many little ones on the second note that we’re jumping into (a single event can start a chain reaction with massive impact). On a theoretical level this last note is opening up in neutral (neither minor or major), digital sounding perfect fifths.
The perfect fifth gives our ear an impression of strength, clarity and stability. Yes, sounds of two or more notes can sound more or less stable. Besides the octave (the same note, one register higher), the perfect fifth is the most stable sound of two notes at the same time known by our ears. It’s also nether positive or negative. Quite digital.

The Soundlogo remains to IFITT and shows where the community wants to go or is already going.

As an add-on, you put together a playlist which was used some days before the conference started. Was was the idea behind the playlist ?

Derkalavier: Music sets a mood, creates emotions and memories connected to these. So after creating and shaping the Soundlogo I created a branded playlist, feeding from the values and messages above. A playlist to be played before, during and after the event as well as in private contexts. Something to give a feeling of what traveling and technology, tourism and future could sound like. Sound to recharge your batteries or open your horizon to new ideas. The playlist aimed for an unobtrusive but forward thinking vibe, giving new perspectives, opening minds and encouraging uprising ideas while creating a positive mood without being too pushy.

Unique enough to set a mood for the entire event or to be listened without the conference, giving the event not just a decent background music but a memorable experience, connected to emotions. A change or jump from a „natural“ or organic feel into the future – technological impact meeting world sounds, futuristic moods and open horizons, enabling minds to get into a flow.