Sound

It has already been mentioned that it is not the sonic quality of the voice that has been the primary musical focus of this project. But music has to sound, and initially I did not have any ideas about how this music would actually sound. What I experienced during early trials is that the choice of sound tools and instruments has very strong stylistic connotations. The use of commercial synthesizers for example, quickly frames the music as related to popular music. Improvising on acoustic instruments is easily associated with genres like jazz, while certain synthesis techniques typical of computer music sounds very much like, well, typical computer music.

I was searching for a way to avoid such clear stylistic markers. I was also looking for a way to relate the use of software tools and speech recordings to my practice as a keyboard performer, something that could point to the underlying theme of speech and music as well. As I described in this blog post on sound sources, the solution I found was to attach contact speakers (also called transducers or exciters) onto acoustic instruments and use these resonating “acoustic” speakers as sound sources.

This blend of electronic and acoustic sound worked so well for my purpose that I followed the idea further and developed this into a complete performance concept that includes a whole group of such transducer instruments. Following the overall metaphor of orchestration, I dubbed this “the orchestra of speech”.

Combined with conventional stereo loudspeakers and some old radios, this physical electroacoustic orchestra blurs the line between the electric and acoustic, between voice and instrument, and between virtual and real soundscapes.

In this way, sound emerged as another important musical theme in this project: how sound source and sound quality affects the perception and meaning of sound.


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