Saturday, 31 December 2011

Brian Eno on Gospel Voices

Very interesting interview with Brian Eno about Gospel voices, singing and a cappella techniques, Klaxon voices, quartet singing etc. on Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service from the 25th December.

Transmission and playlist available here:


Friday, 23 December 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never and the Grain of the Voice

    OPN’s consonantal chorus of lost voices, the vocabulary of a glossa sans logos, highlighted what Roland Barthes called the “grain” of the voice, the song that comes from the body, not from the speaking subject — the body itself speaking, in a wet, libidinal poetry of consonants — not the speech of the lungs, but of “the tongue, the glottis, the teeth, the mucus membranes, the nose.” Barthes’ posthuman voice of the desirous recording is the same discovered by Lopatin, one that doesn’t come at the level of the word or even the phoneme (not the human, not the cultural level), but at the level of the glottal stop, the fleshy mechanical part of the body. In an interview with Altered Zones, Lopatin explained his interest in this noise that surrounds and comprises signs thusly: “It’s revealing that we’re not in a perfect system though we want to be. We want to believe that we’re efficient and perfect, but things are totally out of control and chaotic, like the way we speak and the way we think.” The human subject becomes a libidinal soundscape just barely contained within our skins, looped air temporarily trapped by the folds of the body, echoing with the consonantal chorus of lost voices, the vocabulary of a glossa sans logos…

- From Ian Latta's review of Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Hera/Juno - punishing another substitute for Zeus + Cratylus!

Hera/Juno just gets worse and worse.

Check out this hilarious example. She's basically sat in a Weatherspoons with big Z, they jokingly argue over who gets more pleasure from sex, men or women. Zeus/Jove thinks women do, Hera/Juno thinks men do. So they ask Tiresias because he's transgender. Check out Hera's reaction:

While these events according to the laws of destiny occurred, and while the child, the twice-born Bacchus, in his cradle lay, 'Tis told that Jupiter, a careless hour, indulged too freely in the nectar cup; and having laid aside all weighty cares, jested with Juno as she idled by. Freely the god began; “Who doubts the truth? The female's pleasure is a great delight, much greater than the pleasure of a male.” Juno denied it; wherefore 'twas agreed to ask Tiresias to declare the truth, than whom none knew both male and female joys: for wandering in a green wood he had seen two serpents coupling; and he took his staff and sharply struck them, till they broke and fled. 'Tis marvelous, that instant he became a woman from a man, and so remained while seven autumns passed. When eight were told, again he saw them in their former plight, and thus he spoke; “Since such a power was wrought, by one stroke of a staff my sex was changed—again I strike!” And even as he struck the same two snakes, his former sex returned; his manhood was restored.—as both agreed to choose him umpire of the sportive strife, he gave decision in support of Jove; from this the disappointment Juno felt surpassed all reason, and enraged, decreed eternal night should seal Tiresias' eyes.—immortal Deities may never turn decrees and deeds of other Gods to naught, but Jove, to recompense his loss of sight, endowed him with the gift of prophecy.

Also - getting voco-centric again. Socrates didn't write, he only spoke, and he heard voices telling him, oddly, what not to say and do. Pythagoras would give his lectures from behind a curtain....we can add another ancient philosopher to the list of 'those who had issues with the voice': Cratylus! I found him mentioned on a podcast about Heraclitus. Basically Cratylus didn't like words, he took the Heraclitian notion of flow to the nth degree and felt that even words were transient, shifting and useless for communication (to put things crudely) he chose to be mute (Cratylism), and would hold up his finger instead of speaking up about matters, it's interesting that he felt so strongly about language, word, the voice and logos - but also a shame, otherwise he could've shouted after his mentor Heraclitus and told him not to run up into the hills and live off herbs (which probably lead to his demise).

Sunday, 18 December 2011

☾ °☆○ ° ★ ★  ° ☾ ☆ ¸.°  Kaja $i£lv€rman ☆  ¸. ● .  ★  ★ ° ☾ ☆ ¸. ¸  ★ • ○

For those currently engaged with this text you may find it somewhat frustrating that the scan obscures some sentences and even overlooks a couple of pages. Particularly if you don't have the original to refer to.

Here's an online edition of the book available to download. It's not beautiful but it is legible.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Male / Female - a priori / empirical diagram in relation to Irigaray's Speculum of the Other Woman

OK, I love a good diagram, I drew this whilst thinking about the Luce Irigaray text last Tuesday. I feel it sums up the predicament that Irigaray was performing -  using Platos Cave to outline. This was also outlined very well be Adriana's demonstration of male introversion/a priori stance and feminine outward gaze for a male reflection:
F is either M, following the masculine tradition of a priori introspection (like the dudes in the cave, Plato) or F is empirical in which case the reflection is that of the male framed world, F asks M, so F=M through being M by being a priori OR F=M empirically by outwardly looking for a M tainted response/reflection.

I feel this sentiment is the bones of Irigaray's performance - the birth analogies, the uterofication of the cave are, for me, secondary to this, they elucidate the same sentiment.

Thinking back to Echo and Narcissus it's easy to see this dynamic, especially the empirical side. Echo as outwardly expressed is Male. Narcissus reflection is also Male, and Narcissus' love, his introspection is Male, and all of Echo's sentiments, her words are male words, she can only be male, she can only echo, and the love of the story is also a male reflection.

Being a little provocative now. Echo is male, doomed to only being an echo of the male because of another woman, namely Hera. Hera cut Echo's tongue out and cursed her to only echo others words after Echo acted as a distraction for Hera whilst her bo Zeus enjoyed the pleasures of all the other mountain nymphs. I find this aspect of Echo fascinating, she kept Hera talking, gossiping and whispering solely so that Hera was unaware of Zeus' infidelity. Hera ought to have punished Zeus, or the other mountain Nymphs - but she did not, she punished Echo, who merely acted as a distraction, so that her fellow nymphs and the all powerful Zeus could enjoy one another's company. Hera, turned Echo into the Female void, Hera is the cause of why Echo can only hope to be an acoustic reflection, and a male acoustic reflection or a silent void.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I Am Sitting In A Room

Steven Connor talks about the voice as an "organ of listening as well as of transmission"; the voice , "like flypaper, gathers things along the way" and picks up "lilts, leanings, aches, eccentricities, accents". Connor attempts to illustrate this principle of the voice becoming 'mixed' by recalling Alvin Lucier’s "I Am Sitting In A Room" (1969):

"As the voice is played, recorded, re-played and re-recorded, the voice and the room blend. By iteratively enhancing the resonant frequencies of the room, Lucier manages to let us hear the sound of how the room listens to the voice. What emerges is a new voice, an extraordinary, literally unheard of ‘mixed body’, the body of the voice as it always anyway, inaudibly is, amid things."

A co-mingling occurs, and "inundated by its own room-tone, the voice ends up ventriloquising the room." I love this thought.

More work for the "stupid organ"...

Clever use of both lungs and voice! Bass saxophonist Colin Stetson (by 02:50 he's screaming through the mouthpiece).

Part 2 here (series of loops from 05:20):

Brown Note

Tristam was talking about sonic emitters as weaponry in Auditions this afternoon. Made me wonder about gestural interfaces such as the theremin, which registers how close one is to two ariels, pitch and volume, and emits sound correspondingly. Also began thinking about the brown note.

The brown note "is a theoretical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance." []. Mythbusters attempted to bust the myth, see below. Watch as Barthe's "stupid organ", the lungs (The Grain of the Voice), get a workout.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Before Dubstep had ever been conceived of....

...there was the original Dub of course. Sean O'Hagan has written compellingly on dub music (although I can't find the particular article I have in mind online; it was entitled Blood & Fire, The Guardian, 1997), as has David Toop (see 'Replicant: On Dub' in 'Readings in Modern Music' for an excerpt from 'Ocean of Sound'). Toop describes dub as: "urban, rural, tropic, aquatic, lo-tech, mystical" and notes that it "anticipated remix culture" with 'versions', using music as sculptural material rather than 'copyright property' (I even have some versions at home, vinyl 45's bought in Jamaica some years ago). Would King Tubby or Lee Scratch Perry have made the same impact as Dubstep at the recent demonstrations?

Apollonian and Dionysian questions

Going back to a few key points raised in Vocalities last week regarding the polemical Apollonian and Dionysian positions and their, errr possible, convergence(s) with sound, respectively the mutilation of music, the modification and control (Socrates, Plato refs in Dolar etc) and the rather Bacchic, collective and etherial implications of Grimes presence in the 2011 London Riots (TM)  - see Marks comments from last week about the power of dubstep bass and the content in this months Wire (335), the crackle of dissent.... and, yeah, juggling a touch here, the role of echos in Plato's Cave (in Republic IIRC)... there seems to be a strong sense of unity in established logos, of conformism and social co-operation - to break is asocial(♰), selfish and of no benefit (or even of detriment) for the deluded, but logos 'understanding', many (again, in the cave)... think of The Sirens(✞) (and their legacy outlined by Prochnik)..the alogos call of dissent, and the role of Sirens as scaring/scarring - is this fear of the Siren - or it's (the Sirens) militarised function today a form of freaking the modern comfy logosphile troglodyte into conforming for the sake of society, for the sake of logos? When I think of some live music experiences I think of the adrenalin, the fluttering chest, the anxiety before succumbing to the physical surges of the crowd and the euphoria of noise and light - but this is always something you trust, something you choose to lose yourself in. Imposing the Dionysian Siren (the most effective of which are alogos - see the NYPD Rumbler device) is this not a paradoxical deployment of a Dionysian siren, a quick theological stab to remind one to face forwards and continue naming the shadows dancing on the wall?(ƨ)

♰) Isn't breaking from logos denying language?
✞) Possibly rope in and align Echo and Narcissus here too, Narcissus was repulsed by Echo's advances not because he loved himself (although he did), not because she morphed and manipulated his language but precisely because there was, arguably, NO DIAlogue  - there was no exchange and communication, but pure exo-sonics twisting his own (mono)logue. Could this be an interpretation of his reasons for exclaiming "I'll die before I yield to you"? To be outside of logos, outside of communication (which was Echo's punishment after all for gossiping with Hera (Big Z's wife yo) while Zeus played away) - was too scary, hellish a prospect for him, and even though Narcissus was a selfish (arguably aligning with Apollonian themes) the temptation of one of the nymphs would not be enough for him to abandon logos, language, communication.... For Narcissus was the ultimate anti-dioysian, he was the ultimate Self-loving, self-centered symbol, Dionysism is about the collective, the crowd, the frenzy - Narcissus would be out at the clubs much, he'd be indoors preening himself, adoring his individuality (albeit unbeknown to him), cosy in logos....
ƨ)The dyad, the extimacy could crop up here too.... is this not a scary glimmer of our own internal Dionysian/Apollonian antisyzygy

Hope this isn't too binary and simplistic, but I am getting a little wrapped up in finding threads of sonic applicable relevance between all these dyads, extimacies, syzygies, polemics and struggles....

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

x x x

Perhaps I am racing a little bit too far ahead and should reserve this for the Kafka session we'll have after Christmas but thought I'd get my thoughts down in ASCII first. Also, please bear in mind that I have no psychology background or anthropology background - If am an running with the wrong end of a stick, please comment - I'd be very interested to hear some empirically based insights into this, admittedly half baked post...

I've just finished reading the Mladen Dolar book A Voice and Nothing More (yup- way late on that I know). Now I have finished it I feel pretty confident in my earlier diagrams and attempts to map Dolar's Lacanian dynamics of the Voice. So that's good.

Going back to the voice as the schism, the Moebius strip of logos and corporeal sound, of the (signifier) absences differential matrix being always locked into the dyad with nature, sound, song and temptation etc (I think I've ranted about this intrinsic relationship enough now, I think it's established) - can we think about the grey areas of this relationship? The grain of the Voice - as Barthes puts it is perhaps one of these but I'd like to focus on another: kissing.

As Dolar observed in the last chapter "Kafka's Voices" (citing The Dog by Kafka) the mouth is either useful for eating, for survival OR employed as vessel for signifiers, logos and (if there is anyone listening) communication. The architecture of the mouth is quite functionally biased for eating and a result of evolutionary survival/consuming needs rather than phonic dexterity or vocal authority. In short this whole mechanism underneath our noses are just eating apparatus that we force, and torture into speaking (like a child is potty trained - calling up Lacan's amorphous beings here). The natural remnant always remains (hence Moebius strip diagram and metaphysical applications and evidence discussed previously) but there is little doubt for me that speaking is a new fangled task we force our jaws into enduring - all for the sake of, ever dominant (via the support of the exo remnant as before), logos. So with this dichotomy of survival/nature and communication/logos I began to dwell on acts, sounds and oral-modes that straddle or bridge this dynamic or that are not strictly eating or drinking based whilst at the same time operating autonomously from the the signification absence matrix of logos-communications - I landed upon kissing.

Is a contexturalized kiss a signifier or not? A cough can be a signifer, a deliberate cough especially, but do kisses communicated in a way outside of language (again, I am using language in the broadest of terms here, a cough at an unattended counter is a signifier regardless of 'language') is a kiss more un-signified than signified? Kisses of thanks, of goodbyes, of lust and elation all carry some contexturalization from the differential matrix of logos, a kiss goodbye is mostly signified in the same contrived way that kissing a gold medal or trophy cup is (also see Proskynesis and The Kiss of Peace) - there's loads of examples - but can a naturally embedded exchange occur. The obvious connections (Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape etc) to the mouth as an erogenous zone aside (and the whole heap of metaphors, analogies and developmental relics), I'd like to explore/or ask around the voco-oral (VoC(h)oral) fetishisation. The heavily rhythmic, breath drenched sounds, in Britney Spears shameless single "I'm A Slave 4 U" is a very obvious recent example of, albeit commodified and culturally encoded, Voc(h)oral fetishism.


DJ Screw's dragged out, chopped and screwed plays of Mariah Carey, Brandy and Monica, Nate Dog, R Kelly, Phil Collins etc create swaying worlds of Voc(h)oral fetishism, lungs the size of Cadillacs breath sensuous rushes of air over the listener, any croak or drawl in the delivery is heightened to seismic  sonic dimensions - so much so that in the closing seconds of DJ Screws play of Phil Collins "In the Air tonight" Collins' vocal strains sound like the death cries of a man sinking underneath a bass filled abyss - the animal facet of the voice is re-presented and unveiled only by dropping a tone and slowing the tempo:

Another example of breaking the musically logosified voice into the call, into something more biological can be found in ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞'s track ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇:
✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞ - ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇ by ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞
In a paradoxical method of humanizing, or rather animalizing the voice back into something more primal and less tamed and shackled by logos and musical convention - post-production devices and the mechanisms of the turn-tables create an illusion, a crevice of sonic texture that returns the voice to the primal, pre-logos sound we (perhaps) yearn for. But I am digressing here over to more sonic/musical manifestations of animal orality and vocality.

Where does this need come from? During moments of intimacy it's odd how much a familiar voice is transformed, the transformation is partly due to passion and the physiological effects of activity but also due to proximity, I've often been struck by the loud, sharp almost uncomfortable white noise of breath, or by the bass driven vibrations of a voice re-toned (down tuned) through proximity (under similar sonic mechanics as a Doctor using a stephoscope) - are these sonic phenomena unique to physical intimacy slowly being re-created for commodification? Is this Voc(h)oral fetishism - feigning a sonic trait of animality/intimacy in order to conjure some emotion between a pair of Sennheisers?

SO back to the kiss. Voc(h)oral fetishism is, perhaps, a consequence of remembering such experiences, of hoping to re-create a similar sensation - and this is key. The sensation, a physical sensation is tied into the sonic phenomena emerging from such proximity. When a cheek is pecked in gratitude there are unique sonics that correlate with the physical exchange, the sonic aspects of such are transient and undefinable. The warmth of another's cheek, the down tuning of their voice as they reply whilst withdrawing from your kiss whilst the sound is morphed in relation (or rather in correlation) to these sensations is a large part of the dynamic I am trying to explore here. Voc(h)oral fetishism will never 'copy' the sonics of intimacy because these are mediated by sensations and, on a sensory level, orchestrated by such sensations of heat or cold, degree's of vibration, smell etc. The Voc(h)oral fetishism in the videos above is akin to Rachmaninov played on a Casio - whole chunks of the composition, of the experience are jettisoned (hence why no one is excited by Britney Spears - amongst other reasons). Again I am digressing from the purely sonic aspects the kiss and straying on to the associated poly-sensory phenomena.

Could it be that any noise emitted whilst engaged in an oral-centric practice of affection is, a-logos, the mouth, the lips and tongue are engaged in purely physical exchanges, any noise is more likely to emanate from the lungs as sound rather than 'words', as a bodily resonance rather than any formed phonic oration - is it closer to our natural (animalistic) sound before the mutilation of the oratory speaking mouth forces the vibrations and air into words. Is this why the proximity to such sounds is emotional rather than cerebral (I know there is not one without the other but for the sake of this sonic schism this explanation of responses will suffice). Is the proximity warped sound of another's stifled gasp the closest (metaphorically and physically) we will get to another's voice before the oral mechanism, originally intended for masticating, mutilates the sound in signifiers, language and code? Is the sound from such proximity closer to the sound of ourselves? The sound we hear inside our head, when we cough, shout or cry out. In short, can this be read as an ironic reversal of the Echo and Narcissus dynamic? Narcissus withdrew in horror at the otherness of his own voice spoken by Echo, if Narcissus was not narcissistic would he feel a pang of empathy and love for another's voice, being so close to the pre-logos sound of another human? Feeling Echo's original sound (not too dissimilar to his own, with the same human qualities) rather than understanding her orated words and being repulsed at the otherness.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Charles Panzera

Thought I'd post up this recording of Charles Panzera to go with the Roland Barthes essay 'The Grain of the Voice'. Also worth noting the dog (Nipper) and the gramophone, the His Masters Voice piece by Francis Barraud which, according to Dolar around page 75 pretty much sums up the voice and our relationship to it: machine and animal and no source of sound.

More on Sirens: George Prochnik - The Orchestra (Cabinet Magazine)

Fantastic article in Cabinet Magazine by George Prochnik - The Orchestra. Greek Myths, check. Modern use of sound, check.

Then I wound up here
Straying away from the metaphysics of the voice a little here (hear) but for Aural Cultures this is a pretty relevant article - the genesis of modern sirens lies in the voice anyway...