• Kevin Keller

Crank It Up

Bryn Cohn + Artists, with their mannequins

Early in the development of SKIN, my first collaboration with choreographer Bryn Cohn, Bryn brought a set of mannequins into the studio which were to become not only props, but “participants” in the dance piece.

As I sat in on rehearsal one day, there was a particularly striking moment in the choreography when the dancers each grabbed the hand of their own mannequin and swung it up to a raised position.

When they did this, the mannequin arms made this wonderful cranking noise that echoed through the rehearsal studio. All at once, I was struck with the idea of recording this sound, and incorporating it into the musical score.

At the following day’s rehearsal, I stood next to one of the mannequins with my portable digital recorder while Rachel (one of the dancers) cranked the arm up and down at differing speeds.

I brought this sound back to my studio, and after loading it into Pro Tools, began processing the sound through distortion, delay, and other modulating plug-ins.

The result was one of my favorite sound designs, used for the opening 2-1/2 minutes of “The Builders” (which you can hear at the link below).

Please share your thoughts about this sound - was it effective?