spaces of an absent voice

turntable and live electronics

spaces of an absent voice (2017) was developed as an examination of real-time concatenative synthesis techniques in conjunction with predetermined fixed media elements. Over the duration of the work, the performer is presented instructions on the precise manipulation of a turntable through a Max patch. The vinyl record to be used on the turntable is left to the discretion of the performer.

My goal in composing this work was to stratify layers of obfuscation over an intelligible or communicable “message.” Nevertheless, the “message” in this work only exists in an undefined or hypothetical state due to blurring and distortion created by the obfuscation layers. Syntactic patterns of speech can be heard, but it is overwhelmingly difficult to piece them together and to arrive at a place where they are understood. The trajectory of this work is therefore constructed via motion through these layers, whether lifting one veil of obscurity or lowering another. The idea is that, at the nucleus of this piece, there is a message being communicated by a disembodied, ethereal voice. The layers of obscurity blurring this message span multiple levels of perception and include the utilization of foreign language, delay accretion, the message only as audible writing (rather than speech), and a variety of concatenation combinations between the voice and other musical materials. As a small hint, I will state that even if the listener is familiar with the foreign languages of the speaking voices, they would still be one step removed from the hypothetical “message.”

In a dreamlike manner, the performer is following the disembodied voice through a variety of environments and using the interactive tool of the turntable in order to reach the coveted nucleus of clear communication and understanding. This will prove to be an exercise in futility.