vox mecanix


I wanted to work exclusively with vocal sounds, but to try to ignore entirely such things as words and sentences. Instead I decided to concentrate on ways in which the human voice communicates without recourse to the intricacies of language. I wanted to dig down to the deepest level and lay bare a universal language of squeaks and grunts, which might communicate emotion in the most direct manner, with as few civilising niceties as possible!

I had two primary influences: The first was that of various Dada writers/performers, in particular Kurt Schwitters. Some of the vocal patterns that I used as my source material were based on quotations from Schwitters’ Ursonate, which was a particularly strong influence.

The second was that of early animated cartoons, such as those of Tex Avery. I wanted to make something that had the same kind of manic and visceral energy as an Avery cartoon, the crude caricature and capricious, free-form narrative, and, of course, the humour.

In the composition of the piece, I also concentrated very much on abstract ‘musical’ parameters, in particular rhythm. In this, I was also inspired by the rhythmic patterning of Ursonate, but took such patterning a stage further using basic Stravinsky-esque cell techniques.

Additional Notes

• Created in the studios of the University of Birmingham.
• Premiered at the Dartington International Summer School.
• Received a mention at Bourges.
• Performed at BEAST rumours at the Midlands Arts Centre.
• Broadcast as part of the NOW festival in Nottingham.
• Released on a Sargasso CD.

in Sound