The following is a synthesis of two radio broadcasts assembled by AVANT.org on the relation of sound and language. At the invitation of Pratt Radio, our staff aired a 3-hour segment on April 30th, 2015 which surveyed this topic broadly through a collage of early experimental sound pieces, field recordings, excerpts from scholarly texts, and other media from essays we have published as well as our own private collections. The live mix by Sam Silver on Pratt Radio served both as a research palate for our recent Psychoacoustics event, and as primary material for the 30 minute edit produced for ALLGOLD’s June 22nd segment of the recent MoMA PS1, NTS Radio takeover presented below.
In heavy rotation during both broadcasts were tracks from the 1980’s audio cassette magazine Tellus, whose releases regularly investigated the various capacities and borders of language through sonic experimentation. Sentiments from their 1988 False Phonemes tape are echoed in our own approach to the subject which looks to dissolve, traverse, and situate language in its many forms and understandings:
False phonemes, the impure voice, cybernetic fleshly abstractions, a disembodied voice, the imp in the machine. FALSE PHONEMES is a collection of works by artists who use computer-generated voices with an emphasis on language.
Additionally, Charles Eppley invited C Spencer Yeh to discuss his practice and the imminent release of Solo Voice I – X on Primary Information. In their interview (which will be made available in-full at a later date) Yeh details his efforts to stretch his own voice to a point of unfamiliar musicality where the decomposition and circumvention of phonetic language begin to reveal the semiotics of aural context.
Also included in the original broadcast, but absent in this mix due to its time-specific substance, was a sound piece by Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Benno Mader, first produced in 2014 for webSYNadio. In Kim’s words: “24 participants [were invited] to contribute by recording an hour worth of being busy. The recordings could range from reading to typing to traveling, or all combined. Participants’ files were then compiled as a 24 hour long playlist titled Busy Day.” The daily chronology of the recordings was then recapitulated during the radio broadcast by specifying the time each track could begin. Kim, a sound artist who was born deaf, reclaims aurality through conceptual intervention and collaborated with Mader here to compose a piece capturing the language of the every-day: sounds acting as a backdrop to aural communication which are at once everything-other than sonic language, and inextricable from its transmission.
Below we’ve included a stream of the mix aired on NTS Radio and full playlist for that session. Special thanks to ALLGOLD and Pratt Radio for their invitations, as well as NTS Radio and MoMA PS1 for hosting this broadcast. Also, thanks to Rachel Valinsky for recording a portion of her essay Itself Not So, C Spencer Yeh for taking the time to sit down with us, as well as Rachel Berman, Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Benno Mader for their wonderful contributions.
– Sam Hart
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Protolingual broadcast on NTS Radio, June 22, 2015. Part of ALLGOLD’s MoMA PS1 takeover segment.
- ‘The Rift In The Earth,’ Randy Greif - Tellus 20 :: Media Myth 2 - Tellus Magazine (1988)
- Complicity - Anonymous - ANONYMONTH - PAN / AVANT.org (2014)
- The Sounds of Insects and Fish - BBC Communications - Ergo Phizmiz Illegal Art Compilation
- Linear Predictive Zoo - Ron Kuivila - Tellus 22 :: False Phonemes - Tellus Magazine (1988)
- Up from the Sun - Brett Naucke - Seed - Spectrum Spools (2014)
- In Celebration - Charles Dodge - Synthesized Voices - Composers Recordings Inc.
- Snore Sonata - R.I.P. Hayman - Musicworks #38: Bridging Language - Musicworks (1986)
- Solo Voice II - C Spencer Yeh - Solo Voice I – X - Primary Information (2015)
- Charles Eppley interviews C Spencer Yeh April 24th, 2015 (excerpt)
- Solo Voice VI - C Spencer Yeh - Solo Voice I – X - Primary Information (2015)
- Cathode #1 - Otomo Yoshihide - Cathode - Tzadik (1999)
- The Sound Of… - If, Bwana - Tellus 20 :: Media Myth 2 - Tellus Magazine (1988)
- Filthy Art - Consumer Electronics - Axis Sally - Broken Flag (Come Out - Steve Reich - (1966)
- If A Voice Like Then What? - Gregory Whitehead - Tellus 11 :: The Sound of Radio - Tellus Magazine (1985)
- Hamburger Lady (Carter Tutti Remix) - Throbbing Gristle - Mutant Tg - NovaMute (2004)
- Slipping Control (LC Edition) - Ben Vida - Performed August 21st, 2014 at Lisa Cooley Gallery, NY Itself Not So (spoken excerpt by the author) - Rachel Valinsky (2015)
- Super Shine - Boredoms - Super æ - Birdman (1998)
- Her Song - Paul Lansky / James Dashow - Six Fantasies On A Poem By Thomas Campion - Computer Directions - Composers Recordings Inc. (1982)
- Inside Of A Pipe- Radio And Water Level - Toshiya Tsunoda - Pieces Of Air - Lucky Kitchen (2002)
- Incredible Machine (excerpt) - Paul Cohen/AT&T - AT&T Archives (1968)
- Briefcase Wormholes - Cayos - Naranja - Schematic (2014)
- Dawn Fade Dub - Eleh - Return - Important Records (2009)
- Crickets (1965) [recorded in the wind-off grooves of side two] - Aram Saroyan - 10 + 2=12 American Text-Sound Pieces - Arch Records (1974)
- Border Dissolve In Audiospace (1970) - Liam O’Gallagher - 10+2:12 American Text Sound Pieces - Arch Records (1974)
- Untitled (track 5) - Nuno Canavarro - Plux Quba - Moikai (1998)
- Waves/Good Morning, Midnight - Charles Eppley (2011)
- b.b. finally dreams about life, b.b.´s you play it (1962) - Dick Higgins - Fluxus Anthology - Slowscan (1995)
- The Computer Says Goodbye - Unknown Artist - Willkommen im Weltraum – Nostalgia For An Age Yet To Come - Weltraum (2010)
Cover Image from History View’s Brief Guide To The Development Of The Arabic Script. Kufic Arabic calligraphy, Surah Hujjarat, 9th Century.
“Text on the obverse side is visible due of inadequate thickness of the parchment [showing] base text. Coloured vowel markers added later in Abul Aswad’s style over base text in an effort to standardize the sounds. No diacritical points to distinguish between phonemes.”