Chronicles #3: Scattered Light

What if light were sound?

What if you could hear the light rays streaming through your windows?

SCATTERED LIGHT is just that. Like 2010’s SOUNDINGS, which imagined percussive sounds underwater, SCATTERED LIGHT imagines sound as light waves moving through the air.

Like most of my projects, SCATTERED LIGHT started as a thought, an image held in my mind of sound moving like beams of light, moving through different mediums—scattering, reflecting, and refracting in all directions. I'm a very visual person and have always been fascinated by light. I love the way it breaks through a cloud, or shines through a window. I love shadow play upon a wall or floor. Light is such a dominant part of our lives, and in fact, a very necessary one. 

And again, like the previous album, SOUNDINGS, everything was recorded live to 2-tracks. I picked the sounds I wanted to use and the appropriate strikers, then played based on an impression or feeling. Everything was improvised during a few different recording sessions. One thing to note, other than a bit of reverb added to facilitate the open, airy sound (my studio is very dry, which gives me more options at mixing & mastering), there are NO effects on this recording! All sounds are produced by various Gongs and metal objects, played in real time, and manipulated with different mallets/striking implements, and by my hands.

The cover photo is of the interior dome of the National Gallery in Washington, DC. 

Gongs used on this recording:


• 32” Symphonic

• 32” Sound Creation Earth

• 28” Jupiter Planet

• 26” Sound Creation Sky-Prototype 

• 24” Sound Creation Water

• 24” Venus Planet

• 22” Accent

• 20” Symphonic

Michael Paiste

• 23.5” Water

• 23.5” Volcano 

• 20” Wind


• 24” Chau

• 22” Wind (with center bowing hole) 


 20” ART I-Prototype

Custom Tone 

 19” Heavy Steel (x2)

Steve Hubback 

 18” Iceland (brass)

Various sheet metal pieces

The Sound of Light

I used a variety of striking impliments on this album, as I wanted to elicit a wide range of sounds from the gongs. Besides the usual large padded mallets and marimba mallets, I used various wooden sticks, including some thin timbale type sticks, which gave me a light, yet piercing staccato sound. You can hear these prominently on #s 1 & 5. On #6. I used the Paul Wertico TUBZ from Pro•Mark.

The original liner notes contained a B&W photo for each track. I'm always taking photos like these during my travels. I find them both interesting and fascinating. These album photos (reproduced below) each represent different aspects of light in a particular space and loosely represent the sounds of each track. 



Floor shadow (Baltimore?)


Windows of the rental car facility near the Baltimore airport.


Windmills and sunset on I-65 in Indiana.


Unknown glass ceiling.


Light fixture in Baltimore hotel hallway.


Street light through trees during snowstorm in front of my house.


Skyline bridge between Illinois and Indiana.


Clouds and power lines near Gary, IN.

Under the Surface

NYC subway.

Someday perhaps the inner light will shine forth from us, and then we'll need no other light. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

All photos by & © Michael Bettine. All rights reserved.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™ / Scatter Light

If you've enjoyed reading my blogs, please consider a donation. You'll be helping me to keep writing them. Thank You ~ MB.


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