NOTES ON THE SONIC BODY. FLESHING THE VOICe

The rhythms of my bodily life
encoded in the theater of my mother's womb
I listened from the beginning
universal process
cellular language familiar to all sentient beings without exception

Pauline Oliveros, The Earth Worm Also Sings: A Composer's Practice of Deep Listening, 1993

In the UNTRAINING THE EAR DAYS we focus our listening on the multi-modality of voice. We venture to listen to voice beyond privileging tone, frequency or pitch, complexifying words, morphology, and language through vocality of sounds or non-verbal utterances. A series of performances, lectures, workshops, free-form contributions respond to our endeavor of challenging what it is we call listening, in this particular instance focusing on voice. Additionally, we survey how forming meaning through the mouth, face, muscle and flesh, translates into possibilities of listening to voices. We collectively pay attention to the process in which the sound of the inward self is transmitted and listened to through the whole voice rhythmically as instigated by the body.

Together with the artists, audiences, listeners we search for different modes of listening – crossing between the public and the private spheres of hearing voices. Who is a voice? What is a voice and how (who) owns our voice(s)? How the idea of a voice is often commodified? What other modes can we employ in listening to voice, is it in the dubbed or in echoed? And how not all voices have equal access to the process of voicing? We are proposing to think together about how listening could open up new ways of hearing a voice. During this encounter, we give ears to Ain Bailey’s electroacoustic compositions that are inspired by ideas and reflections on silence and absence, architectural urban spaces, and feminist activism. We listen to Alessandra Eramo's hypnotic voice and to her electronics, moving beyond sound into more visceral layers of poetic expressions. Rehab Hazgui lets herself be guided by the voice of her machines, pushing the listener into a symbiotic dimension of performer-performance. Christina Wheeler’s Emerge from the Totality of Blackness takes us into a full vocality of the body, engendering a space that reframes our experience of corporeality. Brandon LaBelle’s seminar will focus on listening and sound, voice and speech magnetizing the two key themes of “poetic knowledge” and “acoustic justice.” With Ute Wassermann, we lose ourselves to many voices, those emitted by the human mouth becoming non-human and otherworldly sonic expressions and embodied gestures.

These sessions, in an intense three days program, are an attempt to listen to voice beyond binaries of the spoken and the written context of the vocal [1]; or voice dictated by the logic of the written in the coherence of structured voice(s). If one could take agency in what Edouard Glissant refers to as “delirious speech” [2], maybe one could listen to voice as healing – healing the scarred, exhausted, and punctured souls, heard in whispers, hisses, but also in screams, accelerated speech and sound of the hysterics. A space in which the "delirious" voice becomes "a survival technique,” [3] notably when subverting structured and formed voice, which could also scar, hurt, traumatize, and other those who speak it "falsely". So, if we lose ourselves to our voice(s), to that delirious state of voicing, to the nonsense of the spoken, could we listen, learn and eventually share without doubting inappropriateness?

    These Listening Session Days are a part of a new cycle of Untraining the Ear – a month long program of performances, installations, workshops, symposia, talks, and more magic.

    With the Listening Sessions, SAVVY Contemporary, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and CTM Festival suggest an alternative way to listen to music and sound. In order to contextualise how we listen to the world today we also need to replay the past of abounding sonic references. We (the audience, the performers, the space, the radio, the moderators and the technicians) will rhetorically navigate through archives of maverick composers in the attempt to reindex their contributions, to create other possible genealogies and narratives. By involving sound practitioners coming from diverse genres to perform, and scholars to discuss works of the composers, we listen back to the influence and ingeniosity of musicians and sound artists who defy the linearity of 20th century avant-garde music history. We would like to shed light on and unbox works of pioneers such as Halim El-Dabh, Eliane Radigue, Jose Maceda to mention a few. We will also commission new works to echo and reflect (with a contemporary take) rare archival body of works that have been marginalised by history of avant-garde music and sound art.

    1

    Adriana Cavarero, “A Vocal Ontology of Uniqueness,” in: For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, California, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005, 173-182.

     

    2

    Edouard Glissant, “The Situation of the Spoken”, in: Caribbean Discourse. Selected Essays. Caraf Books: University Press Virginia, 1989.

    3

    Ibid, 2.