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Darren Copeland - Lapse in Perception

Program Notes

Lapse in Perception is a text-sound composition about the challenge of understanding complex sensory phenomena in the everyday world. Typically attention paid to everyday situations is quite superficial. While walking down the street one is quite happy to know that there are a row of shops on the right, vehicle traffic to the left, and the odd pedestrian passing by. Any more information begins to take the mind away from apparently more important matters. I wonder how much relationship there is between tuning out the external information in this way and our general neglect of the natural environment.

There is an element in this work that portrays what happens to something when its presence is neglected. This element is represented by the word "lap" and repeats frequently followed by a number that increases sequentially from one to fourteen. Each time the phrase appears it loses more of its intelligibility and assumes a strident pure-tone character. This process of textual obliteration illustrates the recession of clarity in our acoustic environment due to indifference and actions guided by self-interest. The physical environment is a complex phenomenon, as is the make up of human personalities. The many layers that make up a person or a physical environment are combined every moment in a day through a complex network of interconnecting and contradictory patterns. Ignoring this complexity is to walk away from the beautiful contradictions and intricacies of life and reduce experience to mere surface impressions.

Lapse in Perception was composed in 1998-99 for the radio program Out Front on CBC Radio One. Special thanks to Judy McAlpine for her feedback and support throughout the process, to the Geneva Centre in Toronto for their assistance with research into the topic of autism, and to Mike Ladd for his invaluable recording contributions on Ward's Island in Toronto.

Technical Note:

The spatialization was realized using the Richmound Sound Design Audiobox and its control software ABControl. Copeland has been using the Audiobox since 1998 for all of the experimental sound art performances of New Adventures in Sound Art in Toronto and elsewhere, including the Deep Wireless radio art festival, Sound Travels concert series, and the video and sound art event SOUNDplay coming up this November.

Biography (both are available at

Darren Copeland is an electroacoustic composer and sound designer who has produced work since 1985 for concerts, radio, theatre, dance, and site-specific installation.

After studying theatre sound design at Niagara College, he studied electroacoustic composition with Barry Truax (Simon Fraser University) and Dr. Jonty Harrison (University of Birmingham). His concert works have received mentions in international competitions (Vancouver New Music, Luigi Russolo, Hungarian Radio, La Muse en Circuit, and Phonurgia Nova) and appeared on compilation CD releases (Storm of Drones, Radius #3, DISContact I & II, Lieu - Non Lieu, Soundscape Vancouver, and Radiant Dissonance). Rendu visible, a CD devoted to his work, is available on the empreintes DIGITALes label.

Some of his works combine his background in theatre and electroacoustic composition, such as his adaptation of August Strindberg's A Dream Play (first radio drama at CBC conceived for broadcast in Surround 5.1), his soundscape documentaries Life Unseen and The Toronto Sound Mosaic (produced by the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology), his DORA nominated soundtrack for Samuel Beckett's That Time (produced by Threshold Theater), and his text-sound compositions "Lapse in Perception" (produced for CBC Out Front), and “They’re Trying to Save Themselves” (produced for a commemorative broadcast for September 11 on CBC).

Darren Copeland has composed a number of soundtracks for theatre and dance productions in Toronto, including works by Jessica Runge, Danny Grossman Dance Company, Elizabeth Chitty, Threshold Theater, Platform 9, Puppetmonters, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Factory Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Pink Ink Theatre and many others.

Darren Copeland is the Artistic Director of New Adventures in Sound Art, which produces electroacoustic and experimental sound art events in Toronto, Canada, and is the President of the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology. Previously he served on the board of directors for Canadian Electroacoustic Community, Vancouver Pro Musica, and Rumble Theatre.

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