Not the Olympics: the single made from sports sounds


‘Not the Olympics’ is the new single from Mark Marrington, which has been constructed entirely from sports sounds. The piece, which could be seen as a proto-type for the ‘Sport-Step’ genre, comprises a series of sonic vignettes, each referring to one or more familiar sporting events.

The compositional technique employed is essentially ‘collage’, or ‘found sound’ based, the latter referring to the use of actual recordings of the sounds concerned rather than trying to allude to them with traditional musical language and instruments, and is an approach more commonly associated with electroacoustic composers and sonic artists.

The track functions much like any conventional piece of music, containing elements that could be seen as both percussive (for example, balls) and melodic (for example, whistles), as well as recurring rhythmic material that quickly becomes familiar, such as running footsteps and a heartbeat. A composition about sports also lends itself particularly well to the precise, almost robotic, organisation associated with electronically produced music. A visit to the local gym will quickly remind one how mechanically repetitive most forms of sport and exercise can be, and of course such activities are often synchronized with electronic dance music.

To build tension in the final ‘track and field’ section of the piece the single also features the sound of the vuvuzela. Since the 2010 World Cup this plastic horn has become one of the most maligned instruments in contemporary sports music, having a reputation for loudness and an abrasive tone. However it works well in this context as a backdrop to the build-up of running footsteps before the final speed-up at the end.

The track may take a few listens to fully appreciate the level of detail and become completely familiar with the structure, after which it is hoped that its musicality should be much more apparent. It also offers a challenge to identify by ear all the sports sounds involved without consulting the artwork.