Sixty Seconds

Sixty Seconds by Eliot Grigo

Click the link to the right » SIXTY SECONDS « to listen. Read the explanation below.

Nightmares are often mysterious. What we experience during them can either be crystal clear––lucid, or we wake up with a scrambled jigsaw puzzle of memories and sound bites. Inspired by “11 Excavation” by Christof Migone on the experimental album (album artwork shown below), Sound Without Space (1996), my piece “60 Seconds” is an interpretation of what nightmares may sound like in the ambient world and in the dreamer’s mind, if somehow we could observe and listen to dreams on the outside.

Album artwork for "Sound Without Space", curated by Charles Stankievech

Although my composition differs greatly from Migone’s, “11 Excavation” has one soundbite that truly inspired the entire ‘plot’ of “Sixty Seconds”. A sound of Migone’s repeating hook is a high-pitched raspy gasp. This gasp sounds painful, haunting, and it reminded me of someone waking up from an exhausting nightmare. Being a filmmaker, I re-created this gasp with my own voice, recorded it on a 2011 MacBook Pro, and made a story out of it with other ambient and dream-like sounds incorporated into the piece. 

Through the sound in my sixty second sketch, I wanted a story to unfold in the listener’s mind in addition to having an emotional response. The piece starts out with the ambience of my dorm room: a running fan, the cars driving by on the highway below, and the rumble of a faint thunderstorm in the distance. All of the ambient sounds are recorded individually and are predominantly coming from the right speaker. Alongside the ambience is deep breathing, coming from predominantly the left speaker––this breathing is coming from the dreamer. Following the thunder are ethereal whispers; also coming from the left speaker to separate the ambient outside world, and the person who is dreaming. 

Allowing the listener to here exactly what was happening in the dream, a clear dialogue, was too obvious because I wanted the listener to be as clueless as a dreamer might be when waking up from a nightmare. Besides, telling the dream word-for-word would be an entirely different story. What I wanted was a sense of knowing that someone was dreaming a nightmare. To accomplish this I reversed audio clips of me saying “This is a dream”, “This is a nightmare”, and “Wake up”. The combination of these whispers fade into a painful sound of microphone feedback, which ends when the dreamer wakes up in a gasp. The listener and dreamer then quickly realizes the feedback is actually an alarm clock going off, and the piece ends with the dreamer slapping the alarm clock off.

To listen to the piece, click the link at the top of the page.

To listen to the sounds on free sound click here.


"Stankievech | Headphones." Stankievech. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2013.