The Fire Inside

Åke Parmerud

The Fire Inside has been performed in Berlin…

The Fire Inside is an interactive sound and video composition/installation/instrument based on the sound and image of a burning fire. The basic idea of the piece is to give a performer or user a virtual “soundshuttle” which enables her to travel unharmed into the fire, thus exploring different levels of (primarily) the sound universe created by the flames.

The navigation process involves movement through a 3D soundspace created by building a huge mixing matrix. This matrix has three basic arrays of elements each of which are separated into a discrete number of layers of sound objects. Each layer represents a specific domain of the sound of fire. The main dimension of the matrix is the depth array, depicting the “magnification” factor of the sound. For instance, being on the top level depth gives the overall summed sound of a burning fire, while being on lower, or more magnified, levels will enable the sound of glowing fire in various conditions.

On each of the magnifying levels, one may move up, down or sideways to explore a variety of variations on the basic sound. These variations may include granular processes, resynthesis, convolution, transposition, time modulation and other processes of the basic sound. Although most of these processes will be prefabricated (the amount of a certain process is governed by moving between layers) some amount of real-time processing is also envisioned. Moving sideways through a specific magnification of the sound will affect the “angle” of listening to the material. Finally, the performer/user could control the sensitivity of the “listening space” of the shuttle. This means that one could be listening anywhere from just the present position in sound space up to the limit of the processor’s power to create more complex polyphonic layering of sound.

Different levels of skill can be achieved by practicing and getting familiar with the sound space. In this sense the matrix can work as an instrument, with a closed but virtually limitless performing space. Guided by her own preferences of timing, gestures, development and musical dramatics, the piece could take on many interpretations, displaying the personality of the performer, while still keeping its basic identity intact.


  • August 27, 2000, ICMC 2000: Installations, Akademie der Künste — Hanseatenweg, Berlin (Germany)


The Fire Inside (2000, 10)
audiovisual installation