If you are wondering how we made the immersive soundtrack to Lîla Dance’s new show The Hotel Experience you’ve come to the right place.
The Hotel Experience is a new dance show currently touring theatres and rural venues around the UK. It features music and sound design in 6.1 surround sound, so that no matter how far away the audience is sat they will always feel like they are in the middle of the action.
Right at the beginning of the making process, the three artistic directors (Abi Mortimer, Carrie Whitaker, Dougie Evans) sat down together to discuss how they embed the artistic ideas of the show in all the elements: the lights, set design, music, and choreography.
The show follows a character called Luke who checks into a hotel the night before his wedding only to discover that things are really not as they seem. The walls of the rooms are just as lucid as the identities of the staff. Rooms change shape, and staff are transformed into old friends and lovers re-creating moments of Luke’s life.
The rooms of the hotel are created by a cube shaped set which pulls apart to create a seemingness endless potential of multiple spaces. There are times when the rooms are spinning and time is shifting before the characters’ eyes. There are other times when there are multiple rooms at the same time and rooms that you can hear but not see.
One of the aims of the soundtrack was to expand the world of the hotel beyond the stage, and we hear conversations through the walls of the hotel to give a greater sense of the many stories that other guests have/are experiencing. Because the soundtrack is being played in surround sound we can hear conversations coming from every direction around the space, giving the impression of hundreds of rooms all around the audience.
In order to really bring that idea to life, the soundtrack is mixed and played back in 6.1 surround sound, which allows sounds to come from all different directions around the audience.
The main theme of the show is played on Charango which is a small Bolivian 10 stringed instrument. It is used to symbolise hope for Luke’s character and often starts on the stage speakers and then washes over the audience as it builds momentum. The soundtrack also features electric guitar, piano, strings, and found sounds. There are lots of single note refrains which allow the music to build without becoming too musically complex. There is lots of ambiguity and emptiness which helps the music to feel both hopeful and hopeless at the same time.
You can also clearly hear the Charango as the solo instrument for Joe and Amy’s Duet before the wedding party scene.