Sonatina for Two Radio Stations and Small Aircraft

As I drive through the hills of New England I often find myself absentmindedly listening to radio stations that have slipped into the neither/nor realm between Station A (behind me) and Station B (ahead of me). I took it as a challenge to find the most interesting combinations and the best routes for mixing the signals and soon found that I wanted to record the experience and share it with others. Even better, I thought, would be recording from an aircraft. It would allow me to get a better quality signal, move freely among the geographic features that affect FM signals, and move nimbly enough to create a piece of music suitable for the concert hall — effectively the aircraft would allow me to mix the two signals as a DJ would mix two LPs (though somewhat clumsily and with a heavy element of chance thrown in). On the morning of Sept. 17, 2010, I loaded my laptop and USB FM receiver into a four-seater (flown by a bemused friend) and recorded at 91.3 MHz, which corresponds to a mix of WWUH (Univ. of Hartford) and a close-proximity bleed over from 91.1 WMUA (UMass). By directing the plane around the valley [see approximate flight path below] I was able to explore a variety of signal-mixes which changed with location, heading, and with the programming choices down on the ground. From the hour of audio that I recorded I was able to cull a five minute segment that lent itself to packaging in the vaguely-sonatina-shaped box presented here.