Task 3. Sound Poetry and Working With Spoken Text.

Report for Task 3: A short Sound Poem.


The Objective for this task was to create a piece, which played on the mechanics of the human voice, using spoken words, poetry or text. My personal objective was to take the sample of William Wordsworth’s poem and create a piece that contrasts with the sense of the human contemplative nature that his message conveys by degrading the speech, making it sound less human and more robotic, more ominous and uncomfortable to listen to.

-Adopted Composing Approaches:

In this task, I adopted the approach of Paul De Marinis used in his piece Cincinnati (1991) of warping a segment of speech by transforming it into robot or computer speak, which can be heard coming into my piece at 0:05″. I also adopted Marinis’ technique of using formant frequencies to trigger a sound, which in my piece is the demonic Vocoder synth, heard around 0:31”. The technique of using vocals to trigger sounds comes up in number of Marinis’ tracks, for example Odd Evening and The Power Of Suggestion as well in his collaboration with Robert Ashley on Nova Musicha No.3. I also adopted the technique used by Sten Hanson in The Glorious Desertion of trying to leave the nature of the spoken message reasonably intact. Although the speech fades into computer speak, at around 0:10″, the words are still recognizable as being coherent sentences as apposed to robotic jargon.

-Note one particular audio technique you applied in this task not applied before:

One particular audio technique that I have not used before was the use of routing a vocal sample to vocoder synth via the side-chain function to allow the vocals to trigger the sound of the synth when a certain amplitude or frequency is recognized. The effects of the amplitude of the vocal sample triggering the rise in amplitude of the synth can be heard best in the climax of the piece at 1:03″.

-Note one particular music technique learned through this task.

One particular music technique that I learned through this task was the use of dissonant notes and chord progressions played on the vocoder synth to create a threatening feel to the piece and heighten the ominous sense of the track overall, which can be heard most effectively at around 0:50″.

-In my view, how is this task an example of practice as research?

This task is an example of practice as research because I have furthered my research into speech and text based music by practicing it in the form of a spoken music piece. The piece is derived from the knowledge and research gained from listening to examples of the spoken music repertoire, for example Cincinnati (De Marinis, P) and The Glorious Desertion (Hanson, S) and employs techniques found in these examples such as degrading the speech audio whilst leaving the message in the speech intact.

-Auto-evaluation: what mark would I give myself for this task and why.

I would award myself a mark of a 2:1 because my piece demonstrates that I have developed my knowledge of text music and expanded on it by incorporating newfound research on the subject. I have then furthered this knowledge by exploring the disciplines or working with spoken sounds, which is evident in my piece as it demonstrates originality, clear structural direction and also my interpretation of the requirements of the task objective.

Word Count. 504


  • Ashley, R & De Marinis, P (1991) In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven: There were men and women on Nova Musicha No.3 (CD). USA: Cramps Music.
  • De Marinis, P (1991) Cincinnati on Music as a Second Language (CD). USA: Lovely Music.
  • De Marinis, P (1991) Odd Evening on Music as a Second Language (CD). USA: Lovely Music.
  • De Marinis, P (1991) The Power Of Suggestion on Music as a Second Language (CD). USA: Lovely Music.
  • Hanson, S (1979) The Glorious Desertion on Poesie Sonore Internationale (Cassette Compilation) France: Éditions Jean-Michel Place.

~ by J.E.R.U. on February 18, 2011.

4 Responses to “Task 3. Sound Poetry and Working With Spoken Text.”

  1. You use a very provocative text for your piece. The manipulations you do on it are interesting and it works artistically. I wonder if you are trying to get any specific message or idea across in regards to the text context?

    Your writeup has good detail. Good bibliography.

    Good work

  2. This source audio works much better than the original version, btw.

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