TUESDAY, 6th SEPTEMBER 2022
Paper Session 1 – Cultures of Song and Singing
Overheard: Privacy and the Art/Act of Singing
Dr Paul Smith (he/they), Senior Lecturer in Music, University of New England, Australia
I find myself repeating a phrase for the Australian government – “my voice confirms my identity”. Over and over, I allow the government to make an imprint of my voice as a matter of privacy and protection. They assure me that they will keep this imprint private. My voice is just between us. Australian law mandates that under no circumstances is one to record the voice of another without their express permission, even when in a public setting. I don’t need such permission to take a photograph or video but sacred is the voice within the realm of privacy. These understandings confront my creative relationship with voice and I ask, how private is the voice when in song? A conflict exists for the art/act of singing, which remains tightly wrapped in politics of the spectacle, that inverts dominant vocal protections. This presentation builds on theories of privacy to better understand what kind of aesthetic engagements singers and scholars can have with the act of singing. As privacy moves towards and focuses on information, I draw on Julie Inness (1992) and Sarah Igo (2018) to reassert the privacy of actions and in particular the negotiation of an agent with the world around them as they act. I argue that singing be considered not as a public act but as a private one which, when part of a public performance, is a temporary re-negotiation of an agent’s sphere of privacy and that listening accepts an invitation into a singer’s intimate boundaries.
Paul is a composer and researcher who specialises in writing opera and music for the toy piano. His works have premiered in Singapore, the UK, Italy, the USA, and Armenia in addition to festivals across Australia. In 2021, his largest operatic work, Chop Chef, a collaboration with writer and satirist Julie Koh that explores reality TV food competitions, was premiered in Sydney. He is the coartistic director of the company Blush Opera and was a contributing writer to the ABC television series, ‘What is music?’.
Popular Banter: Parasong on Record (in “!!!!!!!”)
Matt Horrigan (he/they), PhD Candidate, Simon Fraser University
This presentation treats what I call the “recorded parasong voice,” the banter appearing in popular music records but not normally considered part of a song—that is, not normally recreated in cover songs. As a case study, I discuss the opening track, “!!!!!!!”, from Billie Eilish’s 2019 album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?. I address the following questions.
1. Why do artists deploy parasong vocalizations? I position parasong as a seemingly audience-accessible form of self-presentation (Goffman, 1959) , contrasting the overtly craftful, heightened elocution of singing. Banter, resembling mundane speech, offers a shared frame in which audiences associate their own self-performances with those of artists. In effect, banter facilitates parasocial relation (Horton & Richard Wohl, 1956) . As in all aspects of popular music, however, banter is really an object of crafty art and design.
2. What elements seem to compose well-done parasong? I propose four: (1) the appearance of improvisation (non-scriptedness); (2) continuity with the artist’s singing brand; (3) humor; and (4) concision, meaning minimal use of duration. High-fi recording, however, is relatively unimportant.
3. Are there interstitial vocal gestures between parasong and song? Somewhat—for example, Eilish frequently sings in relatively unprojected pianissimo—a “lowered,” speech-like form of song. Interestingly, loudness standards, and thus dynamic compression, make hi-fi recording essential here.
4. Why don’t conservatories teach the craft of banter? I apply Sarah Thornton’s concept of “subcultural capital” (Thornton, 1996/2003) —hipness or coolness—and its quasi- Bourdieusian framework, to argue that academia functions as a mainstream whose gestures trigger anxiety of influence (Bloom, 1973) among subculture (or fandom) participants. This leads to multiple dilemmas wherein scholars would have more difficulty establishing expertise regarding parasong than song. Thus parasong banter’s cultural importance challenges music instructors to define our scope of intended influence on student practice.
BIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT: pending
Voice Training between Somatics and Metaphors
Francesco Venturi, PhD candidate, Kingston University of London, UK
The study of singing is filled with metaphors. Designed to help students access fundamental aspects of vocal production and perception, they often are used to approach certain habits that may have been acquired through time. Other times, to sense and integrate new ways of vocalizing. One single metaphor can be extremely powerful in reorganizing the body of the singer-in-training. Yet, paradoxically, voice students and teachers search for a common embodied ground within a disembodied and semantic domain. As a result, the singer-in-training may be challenged when integrating or deconstructing certain practices hidden behind a nuanced metaphor. Metaphors can “open the door wide” or “bar the path” to a certain vocal sound. In this work-in-progress paper, I explore some of these metaphors. As a basis for discourse, I give an account of my experience as a trainee in two very different contexts: on the one hand, that of vocal exploration under the guidance of Margaret Pikes; on the other, that of opera singing, which I study under the guidance of Guillermo Bussolini and Alessandra Notarnicola. Each embodies a whole tradition of voice-themed metaphors, resulting in a different set of didactic tools. I analyze and compare their metaphor choice in the search for common somatic ground. What is the situated knowledge that lies behind these metaphors? Are they bringing the trainee closer to or further away from the knowledge they try to point out? Do metaphors favor the mind/body split or the body-mind integration
Francesco Venturi is an Italian musician who carries out research into the transformative power of the extended voice. He studied singing and voice with Guillermo Bussolini, Margaret Pikes, and Alessandra Notarnicola; he holds an MA in musicology from Goldsmiths University and graduated in composition from Milan Conservatory, where he now leads a seminar on Theories of Voice. As a composer/performer, he scored award-winning films, theatre and dance pieces, and performed Europe-wide extensively. Interested in group-practice methodologies, he created voice-based projects in Italy and UK and lent his voice to films, artworks, and interdisciplinary projects in the live arts. In 2018, he co-founded the concert venue Spettro in Brescia, Italy. He is the editor of Creak: Theories and Practices of Pulse Phonation (2022).
CHAIR: Ben Macpherson
Short break with
‘A chorus of geo-haptic tones’
Felicia Konrad, Independent Artist, Malmö, Sweden
Dr Julieanna Preston, Professor of Spatial Practice, Massey University, New Zealand
A chorus of geo-haptic tones: It is common knowledge that sound waves travel through the environment and atmosphere as energy that vibrates the molecules of solid, liquid, or gaseous material. Their acoustic behaviour is a reflective, absorptive, or transmissive response to any surface with which they come in contact. Temperature, wind speed, humidity, topography, season, currents, tides, and solar and lunar cycles propagate sound waves in global and local landscapes. A voice launched is a sound that touches the world. What happens when the world touches back? This is a vocal performance between two friends, two women, two lands, two continents on opposite sides of the earth. Two voices migrate back and forth in an improvisational, vibrating circuitry navigating through thick, loose, dense, light, smooth, turbid, calm, fierce and fickle geography, each refrain gaining and loosing bits of the landscape it has touched as it unfurls and unfolds. Adjustments and inflections retune the voice as it makes its way from here to there, now to then, her to her, again and again—a refrain of geo-haptic tones. Not as simple as calling out to send a message, it is a volley, a round, a processual chorus transformed by a process of repeated exchanges keeping voice alive, fluid and connected to the body and world. A voice projected, unleashed, and roaming wild, sheds its habit to be proper song, harmonious and melodic sound, and voice disciplined as a mouthpiece of spoken language, text, words, and chatter. Travelling through a global geography, this voice regains its suppressed rawness, its relation to the gut and bodily orifices—a process of reclaiming voice as it might have been before its castration from sensations, emotions, and subjectivities, perhaps before the voice was colonised as a cognitive word-based communication instrument.
Felicia Konrad is a multidisciplinary artist (voice/sound art/performance/music/text/film) living in Malmö, Sweden. Her solo works are mostly minimalistic, playful, poetic, humorous small-scale pieces; as a cultural project leader artivist/climate activist, she is involved with collaborative, interactive, collectives. Recent works include an intuitive art project I Still Live in Water, an on-going collaborative sound piece (Konrad/Carlsson/Persson/Quartey) entitled Breathing Water, and an upcoming 2022 voice/sound/performance work called The Oracle. www.feliciakonrad.se/ www.istillliveinwater.com/ www.breathingwater.se
Julieanna Preston is an artist and spatial designer whose creative practice has found a home in durational, site situated, sonic art, vocalisation and body movement works. Her performances, videos, installations, and scholarship extend attributes, qualities, and agency to worldly materials, places, pages and written and spoken words in search of a spectrum of intimate and animate modalities. Julieanna is a postgraduate supervisor for creative practice research projects at Massey University.
Paper Session 2 – Soundscape and Place
The ASMR-ing of the World: The Voice in Soundscape Radio and the Bodily Experience of Place
Kate Galloway, Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology and Games, Department of Arts and the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences Program, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA
Composer, acoustic ecologist, community activist, and skilled listener Hildegard Westerkamp has referred to the use of her voice and her narrative techniques as a kind of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). The role of the voice in the subjective and multisensory experience of place by listening beyond the sonic when we consider the ways in which we listen to, experience, translate, and mediate environments using the human voice and listening to the voices of the more-than-human-environment. In Kits Beach Soundwalk, for example, we listen with Westerkamp’s body via her voice as she explores Kits Beach with both her body and her microphone, as the microphone extends her body, specifically her ears, into the nooks and crannies that we as human listeners are not accustomed to listening to. While the semantic content of Westerkamp’s voice over conveys important contextual information about a place, narrations of this style, I argue, are also rich in texture as sound, evoke bodily connections with place, and might even “trigger the pleasant bodily feelings collected under the ASMR designation” (Harper, 2020: 96).
Kate Galloway is Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology and Games at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she teaches and researches in the Music, Electronic Arts, and Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences programs. Her research and teaching address sonic responses to environmentalism, sound studies, digital culture and interactive media, and Indigenous musical modernities and ecological knowledge. Her work is published in American Music, The Soundtrack, Ethnomusicology, MUSICultures, Tourist Studies, Sound Studies, Feminist Media Histories, and Popular Music.
Positive Appropriation in Seaton Snook: creating the voices of an abandoned seaside town
Dr Peter Falconer, Institute of Parafictional Research, UK
Seaton Snook was a small town on the coast of County Durham, UK. It was a thriving community of fishermen, blacksmiths, teachers, seacoalers, and musicians. There was a church, a school, a fairground, a zinc refinery, an RAF station… but in 1968, it completely vanished. There are no government records or newspaper reports referring to the town after that year, and no former residents still living. Over the last four years I have built seatonsnook.com, an online archive of sounds and music from the town, to try and form a picture of what happened there. The archive includes music for piano and harpsichord; folk tunes for the Northumbrian smallpipes; rehearsal footage of a local psychedelic rock band; as well as interviews with former residents, field recordings, photographs, and accompanying analyses. The catch is, that the Seaton Snook of my archive is not real. It is a parafictional work – parafiction being a work of fiction experienced by the audience as fact, and which interacts with the real world as such. My archive takes recorded and written voices of real people from the local area, and re-purposes them in order to create new people, who then highlight the real-world issues facing that neglected and underrepresented area of the country. The fact that real voices and real words from real people have been used, confuses the audience as to what is real and what is not, and forces them to pay more attention to the assumptions they make. In this paper, I use the Seaton Snook archive to demonstrate the power of parafiction to give voice to real issues, through the voices of parafictional people, using the re-appropriated voices of real people.
Dr Peter Consistently Falconer is a sound artist and composer from Hartlepool, UK. His work combines sound and narration to tell parafictional stories about both our own and possible alternative realities. In 2021 he completed his PhD in Music Composition at the University of Southampton, an online archive of sounds and music from an abandoned seaside town. Peter has written for Jane Chapman, Zöllner-Roche Duo, Kompass Ensemble, the Horniman Museum London, and the National Trust, and has featured on recordings by composers Sophie Stone, Harry Matthews, Uri Agnon, and Olly Sellwood. He does not normally refer to himself in the third person.
Locating the Voice: Listening to the Film Soundtracks of ICU Wards in the Post-Pandemic World
Shikha Jhingan, associate professor of cinema studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
The COVID-19 pandemic has created new inventories for listening to our auditory environment. In the Covid wards, we saw spaces of intimate encounters between patients and caregivers, both in a state of extreme precarity. ICU wards during the pandemic became sonic territories where voices got muffled and unintelligible, mediated through masks, bi-pap machines, and ventilators. In this paper, I will focus on the soundtracks of two recent Indian films that narrativize stories of patients and caregivers to argue that both voicing and listening in ICU wards involve unorthodox practices that pressure the idea of sound synchronization and signification. Through analysis of October (Shoojit Sircar 2018), I will re-examine the concept of acousmatic voices, encountering it from the point of audition (POA) of comatose patients who hear sounds without connecting them to specific bodies. In the closing section, I will focus on Virus (Aashiq Abu, 2019), a film based on the outbreak of the Nipah Virus in Kerala in 2018. The film creates layers of splintered voices to evoke the dense auditory landscape in medical facilities during the outbreak of a contagion. In this procedural genre, rational discourse is skewed towards the medical fraternity racing against time to track down the source of the virus while patients struggle to make their voices heard in isolation. The third entity in these competing vocalities is that of the virus, which presents itself as an aural glitch. Digital technologies in cinema enable us to hear phantom voices nudging us to acknowledge a post-human world.
Dr. Jhingan’s research work focuses on voice, music and sound in Cinema. She has published her work in academic journals such as BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies and Feminist Media Histories and several book anthologies, including the recently published, A Companion to Indian Cinema, Wiley Blackwell, 2022.
CHAIR: Amy Skjerseth
‘A chorus of geo-haptic tones’
by Felicia Konrad and Julieanna Preston
Paper Session 3 – Vocal Identities
Sounding Wolf Haley: Hip-hop, Racial Masking and Altered Vocalities in the Musical Work of Tyler, The Creator
Gustavo Souza Marques, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Music, University College Cork (UCC, Ireland)
This paper aims to unveil the manner Tyler’s white deviant alter-ego Wolf Haley sounds (and looks) in his musical work. Wolf Haley represents Tyler’s malefic side in lyrics and concerts in which he projected his most bizarre narratives such as rape fantasy lyrics, ultraviolent chants and homophobic slurs. However, more than once Tyler described Wolf Haley as a white man subverting the racist idea of the black man as the “bad nigger”. I seek to discuss Wolf Haley’s significance in Tyler’s early career and how his low-pitched vocals aided by reverb effects reflected the aggro attitude of this alter-ego.
Gustavo Souza Marques, also known by his stage names Gusmão and Gusashi, is a Brazilian music scholar and producer who researched the musical work of Tyler, The Creator in his doctoral degree having as main topics critical race theory, postcolonialism, performance, ethnography and digital humanities. Currently, Dr. Marques is a postdoctoral researcher for the CIPHER Hip-Hop Interpellation project at University College Cork (UCC, Ireland).
Collective voice, collective work: women experiences from contemporary Chile
Laura Jordán González, Profesora Asociada Instituto de Música, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
In the framework of a research project about current voices in Chilean indie music, this paper explores the ways in which collective activities enable the continuation of singing careers under pandemic conditions. On the one hand, building on the concept of “distributed labor” (Provenzano 2018) for thinking about studio production of recorded voices, I study the distribution of roles among several agents who participate in the creation of new recordings. Based on interviews with three independent female musicians –Paz Mera, Chini.png and Aka Lore– I show the backstage creative dynamics opened up under the lockdown; thus I examine their transformative relation with their “own” timbre mediated by available machines. On the other hand, I focus on the conception of collective singing through the case of the project “Cantoría Popular de Mujeres”, a community-based and artistic space developed by women in order to sing together and fight against gender violence. I interrogate their conceptions of collective singing and collective work. I contend that, inasmuch as this project contributes to empowering a diversity of female singers through several vocal activities, it challenges common ideas about the uniqueness of voice (Cavarero 2005), fostering some kinds of communal multivocality (Meizel 2020)
Laura Jordán González (PhD in musicology) works as an academic of the Music Institute of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and serves as the current president of the Chilean Society of Musicology. Her research deals with voice in the cueca, timbre in New Chilean Song, sound aesthetics in film, and women’s musical practices from the early twentieth century. Her current project Más que gritos y susurros: voces de la música popular en Chile (More than shouts and whispers: voices of popular music in Chile) addresses vocalities in different popular genres, from rock to folk.
Paul Alan Barker, Professor of Music Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
HaHaHae is a celebration of human laughter commissioned by the Kyoto Centre for Arts. It reflects on the earliest documentation of laughter and in its finished form as an interactive website it is designed to encourage the viewer to consider their reaction and assumptions about the sound of laughter.
Paul Alan Barker, Professor of Music Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Paul Alan Barker has worked across orchestral music, chamber music, vocal and choral music in opera, dance, musicals, theatre, concerts and digital media. His extensive output across these genres has been performed and recorded internationally. Particular interests include the continuum between theatre and music, the human voice and the over-specialisation of education. His work has received awards and prizes internationally. Publications include Composing for Voice, now in its second edition for Routledge. He works as a composer, pianist, writer, vocal coach, conductor and theatre director.
CHAIR: Jacob Bird
Short break with
‘A chorus of geo-haptic tones’
by Felicia Konrad and Julieanna Preston
Artists’ Round Table 1—Vocal Environments
Rob Mackay [Chair and panelist]
David de la Haye
Short break with
‘A chorus of geo-haptic tones’
by Felicia Konrad and Julieanna Preston
Keynote: Naomi André
Locating Voice: Finding Meaning in Voiced Race, Gender, and Place
Naomi André is the David G. Frey Distinguished Professor in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is Professor emerita at the University of Michigan and has degrees from Barnard College and Harvard University. Her research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race in the US, Europe, and South Africa. Her books include Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (2018), Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (2006) and the co-edited collections African Performance Arts and Political Acts (2021) and Blackness in Opera (2012). In February 2022 she testified before Congress to support making “Lift Every Voice and Sing” a national hymn. She is the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Seattle Opera (since 2019), has worked with over twenty opera companies, and is a founding member of the Black Opera Research Network (BORN).
CHAIR: Richard Elliott
TUESDAY EVENING SCREENING: Sound and Video
‘The Red Telephone Box That Talks A Bit Like Me’
‘The Red Telephone Box That Talks A Bit Like Me’ is a 1937 British K6 telephone box bought from E-Bay with money left to me by my Auntie Margaret who I had not seen, nor thought about for fifty years and who was a bit of an odd bod. It is situated in a quiet country lane near York. People pop in from time to time to listen to a computer generated version of my voice talking to me about me. Since Covid they don’t pop in but I continue to do so and will hope to maintain my presence after I am dead – just like my Auntie Margaret.’
Christopher Newell, PhD, School of the Arts, University of Hull
Newell worked as an opera and theatre director for 20 years before gaining a PhD in Computer Science at The University of York with a thesis entitled ‘Place, authenticity, and time: a framework for liveness in synthetic speech.’ Since then, he has continued to use techniques derived from opera and theatre to experiment with text to speech systems. He produced a short film with the comedian and writer Lee Ridley exploring the absurd scenarios that can occur for persons obliged to use computer speech as the result of a disability. He is a lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Hull.
„Trzysta“ / „Three Hundred“
A musical composition for vocal ensemble with soloists, handheld instruments, 8-channel tape and live electronics, 2016-17.
In music (and not only), the expressiveness of the human voice dominates its semantic message. The composition concerns the successive stages of life – maturation, stabilization, biological and mental degradation under the influence of various life experiences. I chose the text in the simplest way to present the passage of time – a sequence of consecutive numbers. It is easy to depict time operations in our lives on numbers, for example, numbers in ascending order indicate the passage of time, jump to later numbers suggests ideas and dreams about the future, return to previous numbers – memories, looping numbers in various ways indicate difficult experiences, mental or neurological problems, etc. Numbers are spoken in Polish because in this language version the text has extremely rich phonics. For example, numbers 267-268-269 in International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) looks like this: dvʲɛɕt͡ɕɛ ʂɛɕt͡ɕd͡ʑɛɕɔnt ɕɛdɛm, dvʲɛɕt͡ɕɛ ʂɛɕt͡ɕd͡ʑɛɕɔnt ɔɕɛm, dvʲɛɕt͡ɕɛ ʂɛɕt͡ɕd͡ʑɛɕɔnt d͡ʑɛvʲɛɲt͡ɕ.
The composition features 6 soloists processed live by electronics, and they are accompanied by a choir acting as a commentator like in an antique theater. The soloists – 3 ladies, 3 gentlemen – have various relationships with each other. During the concert, they sit among the audience, at considerable distances from each other. The audience therefore participates more directly and emotionally in their mutual ‘conversations’. Each of the characters matures and ages in their own way, and their relationships with other characters evolve over time. Someone becomes a dictator-corporal, someone else falls into dementia or turns into a robot, becomes lost, indoctrinated, lonely. Craving for power and domination, loneliness, mental illness and all other states become possible to auralize thanks to manipulations on numerals, richness of phonetic values and electronic transformations.The performance lasts 21 minutes.
- 21‘Music excerpts: https://soundcloud.com/lidia_zielinska/zielinska-trzysta-excerpt
- Concert full recording (21’): https://soundcloud.com/lidia_zielinska/trzysta-300-for-vocal-ensemble-with-soloists-handheld-instruments-and-live-electronics
Lidia Zielińska, Professor of Composition and Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studio at the Academy of Music in Poznan
Polish composer, Zielińska is Professor of Composition and Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studio at the Academy of Music in Poznan. Her work includes numerous awards for orchestral music, multimedia, electroacoustic works; books, articles, papers, guest lectures (topics: sound and music, acoustic ecology, Polish experimental music, traditional Japan music), summer courses, workshops in Europe, both Americas, China, Japan, New Zealand; electroacoustic compositions realized at the EMS Stockholm, SE PR Warsaw, IPEM/BRT Gent, ZKM Karlsruhe, Experimentalstudio des SWR Freiburg; vice-president of the Polish Society for Electroacoustic Music, former vice-president of the Polish Composers’ Union, programming committee member of the “Warsaw Autumn” Festival. lidiazielinska.wordpress.com https://soundcloud.com/lidia_zielinska
David de la Haye
The sound recordist goes underwater, and shines a spotlight on the interconnection between humans and aquatic life. Seán Street’s poem ‘The Sound Recordist Goes To Town’, which references the experience of listening through a hydrophone, is re-recorded underwater. His voice becomes naturally filtered, replayed to bring out the sonic fingerprint of the water body: Alvin Lucier sitting in a pond. The bioacoustic ‘voices’ of freshwater bugs and aquatic plants become entwined within the author’s displaced words, creating an interspecies dialogue beyond human perception. The poem was read and originally recorded by the author. Subsequent underwater recording and filming took place on location in County Durham.
David de la Haye, Music Technician, Newcastle University, UK
de la Haye is a contemporary musician, field recordist, sound technician and producer. He is interested in how sonic arts can raise the cultural value of aquatic environments and uses emerging technologies to explore the enchanting soundscapes of our ponds and rivers. David has shared his passion for sound recording through a string of international exhibitions, artist residencies, museum installations, and public workshops. A pioneer on the Folk Music scene, he has toured major venues across the world and continues to work toward bringing together traditional music and practices of acoustic ecology. He is a member of Wildlife Sound Recording Society, British Ecological Society, and World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. Within the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University, David is an active member of the technical research community and was shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education “Outstanding Technician of the Year”.
This work-in-progress is an audio-visual exploration of my (displaced) body in a natural environment. Through recordings and re-mixings, I look at the relation between my body and the nonhuman living bodies around me, exploring how to re/place my body through image and sound. My practice consists of choosing natural locations, setting up my audio recording device and camera and letting myself become inspired by what I sense around me. Grounded in my contemporary and somatic dance practices and various improvisational techniques, I contemplate and move with my inner and outer worlds, what is in and outside of me, my skin resonating. I look for moments of presence, timelessness; for a release and a coming-closer-to the nonhuman living bodies surrounding me. I attempt to listen through the skin. Using these digitally recorded and physically embodied experiences, I explore how much farther the inner can become the outer by amplifying and editing the recorded sounds into extended, looped, and/or re-situated soundtracks. Written reflections become spoken text; remembered moments are re-played as vocalizations in front of the microphone. My intra-relation with a natural place becomes a listening experience displaced from its origin: the place of conception, of composition, of explication; location as listening. As I pull out these intricacies and barely audible frequencies with effects and software, I ask: does my displacement, re-mixed, re-place you? How do you become touched by my intra-actions? How can listening re-place our bodies in relation to our environments, the one listened to and the one currently in? How might listening to my displacement re-placed, open up other ways of being with?
Emily Welther, MA, Performance Practices, ArtEZ, the Netherlands, multimedia performance artist
Welther holds bachelors degrees in Drama from the Experimental Theater Wing of New York University and in Dance from the European Dance Development Center, the Netherlands. She completed her Master of Performance Practices at ArtEZ in September 2021. She currently experiments with multimedia performance art, sound compositions and sonic installations, exploring the sounds that emerge when the human body and its environment come in closest contact.
Inside the Red River
Rob Mackay + John Wedgewood Clarke
Inside the Red River is a poetry and soundscape installation developed for the AHRC funded project Red River: Listening to a Polluted River. Led by Dr John Wedgwood Clarke of the University of Exeter, it explores how creative writing can transform our relationship to a polluted, post-industrial river through listening to the human and non-human voices that have shaped, and continue to shape, its course.
If you don’t know the Red River—and it’s not on the usual map of West Cornwall tourist destinations—it rises among neolithic standing stones on the moors above Camborne and flows through a valley that has been worked for tin since at least Roman times, finally emerging into the clear waters of St Ives Bay at Gwithian.
Although only 7.5miles in length, and little more than a stream, it passes through a remarkably diverse physical and cultural landscape. Given its centrality to the Industrial Revolution in Cornwall, and the development of hard-rock mining around the world—it flows through part of a UNESCO World Heritage mining site—the Red River’s sediments are rich in stories and ecology that reveal the human and non-human legacies of heavy industry. It even contains a unique sub-species of trout that has evolved to live in its polluted water, a life form that may be considered as much an artefact of tin-mining as the Cornish engine-houses on the slopes around its banks: mining is in its genes.
The combination of ancient landscape use, post-industrial economic deprivation, EU-funded environmental remediation, and the continuing growth in high-end tourism based on the image of Cornwall as a Romantic, rugged elsewhere, make the Red River an exciting site through which to question what is wild and what is natural, beautiful and ugly, rubbish and valuable. We have many great poems about beautiful rivers, but fewer about the polluted, post-industrial and ugly. This research project will set that right. It will borrow from the ecological concept of the ‘ecotone’, or meeting place of biomes, both to read the marginal environments of the Red River, and as a metaphor for the way creative processes may be altered when they touch, enter and meet the river on its own strange terms.
This sound installation draws on a continued collaboration between Wedgewood Clarke and Mackay as they have developed numerous place-related works over the past decade which situate the disembodied voice within soundscapes. Their practice requires both artists to experience the same site at the same time during field trips, and then exploring the sites through their own artistic lenses.
This work has been presented as a sound installation at Tate St Ives (April 2022) and CAST (Oct 2021). It is also planned for presentation at the Eden Project (Sept 2022). It could be presented as either a sound installation or within a concert setting at CFP 2022.
John Wedgwood Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Exeter
– The project is directed by the poet and academic Dr John Wedgwood Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.
John was born in Penzance and grew up in St Ives and Carbis Bay. He went to the Humphry Davy School and Penzance Sixth Form College. As a teenager, he surfed in the rust-red waves at the mouth of the Red River. He has published two collections of poetry, Ghost Pot (2013), and Landfill (2017), which explores the poetics of rubbish and marine ecology. John regularly collaborates with scientists, educationalists, and other artists on cross-disciplinary projects with a strong participatory element, working with both schools and groups outside formal education.
Rob Mackay, Senior Lecturer in Music, Newcastle University.
Mackay is an award-winning composer, sound artist and performer. Recent projects have moved towards a cross-disciplinary approach, including geology, soundscape ecology, theatre, audiovisual installation work, and human-computer interaction. His work has been performed in 18 countries (including several performances on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1 and Radio France), and a number of his pieces have received international awards (Bourges (1997 and 2001), EAR (1999), La Muse en Circuit (2007)). He has held composer residencies at Slovak Radio (Bratislava), La Muse en Circuit (Paris), the Tyrone Guthrie Arts Centre (Ireland), Habitación del Ruido (Mexico City), and CMMAS (Morelia).
Rob is currently a Senior Lecturer in Composition at Newcastle University. Previously, he was a Reader in Music at the University of Hull where he directed HEARO (Hull Electroacoustic Resonance Orchestra). He is also the Chair of UKISC (UK and Ireland Soundscape Community), an affiliate of the WFAE (World Forum for Acoustic Ecology).
False Memory of Normandy (2018)
A Poem by J. M. Fox
Sound: Tim Howle, former Professor of Contemporary Music, University of Kent.
Video: Dr. Nick Cope, RMIT University Vietnam.
Electroacoustic music composer Tim Howle, and filmmaker Dr. Nick Cope, have been engaged in an ongoing creative practice collaboration since 2002. The collaboration has seen the production of a series of short films exploring notions of what it means to compose with sound and moving image in works where the sonic and visual are treated as commensurate partners. ‘False Memory of Normandy’ extends the explorations of image/sound composition to include the spoken word, in a three-way collaboration with poet J. M. Fox. As with the previous collaborative outputs, the questions central to this work are how can the components of compositional practice be brought together commensurately in the final production. Themes central to the collaboration articulated in our paper for the Special Issue: Creative Practice in Filmmaking and Screen Production, Studies in Australasian Cinema 12 (3), continue to be evident in this new work. Explorations of analogous practices across electroacoustic composition and moving image production, of cinesonic audiovisuality (Birtwistle 2010) and visual music composition leading to sound and image combinations constituting ‘a third communicative dimension’ (Williams 2003) are examined in this work. Notions of affective trans-sensory perception and liberating music from a position of mere enhancement of the visual in traditional soundtrack work, are brought into play here with the additional component of spoken word content. This intends to produce a work where all three components – sound, image and word – work together commensurately and extending further our explorations of Hans Richter’s notion of the Film Poem.
Available for download via Dropbox; Apple Pro Res 422 QuickTime Movie, 4.39Gb –https://www.dropbox.com/s/8lzukraiyr2yd8c/Normandy%20Pro%20Res422.mov?dl=0
Dr. Nick Cope, Program Manager Digital Film & Video, School of Communication and Design, RMIT University Vietnam
A practicing film, video and digital media artist since 1982, Nick Cope’s PhD ‘Northern Industrial Scratch – A visual music practice and its contexts’ (2012) locates his creative film and video work with regards to critical, historical and practice-based research contexts. A personal archive is online at http://www.nickcopefilm.com. Nick has taught previously for the Universities of Sunderland, Hull and Southampton Solent in the UK, before working for Xian Jiao Tong Liverpool University in Suzhou, China, and more recently Vietnam.