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  • Writer's pictureThom Holmes

The US Open Sound Piece, 2022

This is my annual exploration of sounds from the US Open Tennis tournament, held in New York at the end of each Summer. I always come away with a head full of mesmerizing sounds with the intent of exploring how best to recreate the experience for the podcast. Most people go to see the tennis players playing tennis. But I also find myself being immersed by the experience of listening to tennis. The steady rhythms are mesmerizing but are always punctuated by the procedural sounds of the game. While I am on the grounds, I wander the area, listening to the ambience of the various stadiums and tennis venues, the chatter of the crowd, the explosive thunderstorms that broke up the overwhelming heat of much of the event, and yes, the rhythm of tennis players hitting, practicing and playing. I also catch the sounds of sneakers squeaking on court, announcers delivering the score, and the fans gasping and cheering at the spectacle that they are witnessing. So, I brought my recordings home, applied various editing techniques, techno rhythms, and complimentary electronic sounds and present to you my sound piece for the 2022 US Open tennis tournament.

The work is about 45 minutes long and has several distinct sections. You can see the podcast website for the order of event for the sound piece. I hope you enjoy The US Open Sound Piece for 2022.

If you would like to learn more about the history of electronic music, please read my book, Electronic and Experimental Music, published by Routledge in print or as an e-Book. You may also want to read my book about Sound Art, available from Routledge now.

If you enjoyed this podcast, I invite you to explore our library of past episodes. They span many genres, technologies, and artists associated with electronic music, from symphonic rock to music for meditation. All inspired by vintage recordings from my Archives with the hope of livening up the history of the music by playing the music itself.

Episode 79

The US Open Sound Piece, 2022


The sound piece is organized into six sections, each around a different approach to processing sound.

Names of players captured in this piece include: Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Coco Vandeweghe, Jannick Sinner, Hubert Hurkacz, Federico Delbonis, Jesper De Jong, Frances Tiafoe, Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud, Cameron Norrie.

Note that the individual timings of the sections sometimes overlap.

  • Section 1. Techno beats plus tennis hits. This opens with a chair umpire announcing “out” followed by various beats, sneaker squeaks, crowd applause, various chair umpires, players hitting, thunder and rain going down a drain, more clapping, more hitting, etc. Spectral gate, delay, and reverb from Logic Pro were used to process some of the sounds, and synth ambience was created within Alchemy. 5:44

  • Section 2. Serato DJ. I used Serato DJ and its integrated looping and effects to generate this section. It was enhanced by percussion sounds added using the Logic Pro Orchestral Kit. 15.40

  • Section 3. MetaSynth CTX 1.2 processed sounds, using the Inertia effect applied to various tracks of players hitting, all layered to create an atmosphere similar to the mesmerizing effect one experiences while watching hours of tennis. 8:55

  • Section 4. Loops of hitting, audience sounds, various other noises and audio input recorded at the Open. Again, this section is multilayered to provide an appropriate ambience to the sound. Assembled in Logic Pro. 13.14

  • Section 5. Arthur Ashe. I came across this clip of tennis great Arthur Ashe giving some tennis instruction and thought it would make a great addition to the piece. I applied delay and reverb to mix up the sequence a bit. 1:50

  • Section 6. Return of the Techno part capped with a sequence of sneaker squeaking and applause loops. The loops were processing using an audio filter, spectral gate, delay, and reverb. Plus the Buchla Easel V (Arturia). 2:05

Opening background music: rhythms generated using Spark (Arturia).

Introduction voiced by Anne Benkovitz.

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Electronic and Experimental Music

Notes on the development and continuing history of electronic music, its creators, and the technology.

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