False Alarm

Made by Uday Uppal

An attempt at given physical embodiment to an audio clip from False Alarm by The Weeknd

Created: October 16th, 2016



I selected a clip from The Weeknd's new song False Alarm. I ran across this song the other day, and was fairly surprised because it is almost nothing like Abel Tesfaye's usual style. It is very different, and it stuck with me. The chorus in particular is intriguing, and that is the part I decided to explore in this project (see audio clip below). I thought it would be cool to try unpacking the audio to see exactly why it is so different, and if I can give it a physical embodiment. 

False Alarm Chorus

Listen to file directly



To make the product, I decided to use paper mache. I realized it would give me the most freedom with the form I wanted to create, and all the materials were readily available in my room. The product itself basically has this irregular structure with many protruding points and towers of different sizes. The irregularity of the structure is supposed to represent how irregular this piece is for Abel Tesfaye, and the many points and towers are there because the clip to me felt like this ball of energy that was exploding out in different directions which is what I tried to represent it as. Though the structure is very rough-looking, the surface of the piece is very smooth to the touch because, as with all his pieces, False Alarm still has Abel's recognizably soft voice that smooths over the underlying structure of the audio.



I decided at first to go through as many Weeknd songs as I could on Spotify. Then, I started again listening to this piece and figuring out what exactly made it different from the other work. I realized it was mostly how lively it seemed to be. It was not soft or round, it seemed to pop. The chorus in particular is very reliant on a fast beat and moments of loud sound. When I tried to visualize these aspects, I realized the best representation would be a sort of round structure filled with mounds and towers on the surface so it seemed as though it was exploding outward. 

Unfortunately I had no inner structure to the product, and it is made out of only paper and glue-water. I decided to use paper towels instead of newspaper because they are tougher and would hold the structure better. I simply kept building out of the central structure, adding in those towers of different sizes while making sure the surface always remained fairly smooth.



I feel I did a fair job of capturing the components of the audio correctly. I feel it represents the breakaway that this audio is from Abel's usual work. Also, the structure and surface of the piece represents the audio well in my opinion. I do wish that I had more time because after the product dried, I would have tried painting over it with some warm color scheme so that it could better be seen as what it actually was supposed to be. I learned that it is very difficult to unpack sound and make it something physical. This project would have been much simpler if we were using a video instead of just audio because audio alone is very difficult to visualize. 

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62-150 Intro to Media Synthesis and Analysis

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New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers a...more


An attempt at given physical embodiment to an audio clip from False Alarm by The Weeknd