|for||six musicians with megaphones and tape|
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Bandskizzen was composed as a preparatory piece for band, commissioned by the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik 2009
for six musicians with megaphones and tape
The series “band” is based in the idea of analog instrumental resynthesis of existing speach sounds.
There are sounds which, even in the form of a digital recording, retain enough of its aura to conjure a reaction in the listener: they remain unhearable. These works embody strategies to break the pavlovian incantation: to reclaim its frequencies.
The speaking maschines of the 18th century were built upon genetic principles: they were modeled upon the hardware of the larynge and of the vocal tract. If the imitation is accurate enough, the sounds produced through such devices recall the sounds of the human language.
In the digital territory it is not the anatomy which is plagierized: the contours of the sounds in the form of sampled signals are calculated and played back into the room through loudspeakers. It is not the voice as device but its effect which is counterfeited: an algorithm generates fluctuations in the air to evoke a physical process which has not taken place.
In this case the source used is a historic recording (1979) from a press conference given by the argentine General Jorge R. Videla, head of the Junta which had taken over in 1976. It was during this conference that the term “desaparecidos” was first discussed openly.
In the case of a missing person… that is an unknown, the missing person … if he would be found, well … he would receive an X treatment … and if the missing status would turn into a … certainty … of its demise … it would receive a Z treatment … but as long as its missing no, no, it cannot receive any kind of treatment … it is an unknown … it is missing … it has no entity … it’s not there … neither dead nor living … it’s missing JORGE RAFAEL VIDELA, during a press conference 1979
… frente al desaparecido … es una incognita el desaparecido … si apareciera, bueno … tendra un tratamiento X … y si la desaparicion se convirtiera en … certeza …… de su fallecimiento … tendra un tratamiento Z … pero mientras sea un desaparecido no, no, no puede tener ningun tratamiento especial …. es una incognita …. es un desaparecido …. no tiene entidad … no esta … ni muerto ni vivo … esta desaparecido
JORGE RAFAEL VIDELA, durante una conferencia de prensa, 1979
From this document a fragment was selected and repeated in different time scales. These versions were juxtaposed one after the other: as landscape. The piece consists upon the inspection of this landscape through a series of strategies based primarily on a procedure called “concatenative syntehsis”. We are presented with applications of this technique on a daily basis: the voice-identification software of a hotline, the indications given by a navigation device in our cars, the automatized announcements in the train station, all use similar technologies to turn a voice into a data.
The procedure is straightforward: a sound is splitted into small fragments; each fragment is analyzed and its features extracted. From a database of reference sounds the one whose features show the biggest similarity to the original fragment is selected. As in a mosaique, the source is resynthesized through the concatenation of the prerecorded material. In this case the resynthesis is done as a performance. The sounds have been recorded and matched with the voice recording to generate not a new tape but a score. The players, in sync with the original tape, try to reproduce as accurately as possible the sounds which they recorded previously.
In its traditional application the database used for matching would be collected from sounds similar to the ones being matched: an individual voice is analyzed by comparing it to a collection of reference voices. Here this is not the case: the database is build entirely from sounds produced by a megaphone without the intervention of the human voice.
The megaphones are turned on and off, plucked, hit, blown, scraped, rubbed, etc. They are placed on a table, with the bell facing down. By changing the opening of the bell the player can produce a series of different sounds based on the same principle of the vocal cavity.