Speech Music Symposium

Speech Music Symposium

With help from nyMusikk Trondheim and Norwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU), I organized a symposium on the subject of speech and music. The event, which took place December 9 – 10, 2016 at Trondheim Kunstmuseum Gråmølna, featured performances and artist talks by some musicians and composers working with different approaches to using speech in a musical setting:

Trevor Wishart (UK), Sten Sandell (SE), Alessandro Bosetti (IT), Alex Nowitz (DE), Daniel Formo (NO)

The symposium had an artistic focus on aspects of the composition, performance and perception of speech based music – music that in some way or another utilizes speech in a musical way. Possible topics included: motivations for working with speech in music; approaches, problems and solutions for making music based on speech; perception and listening modes in relation to music, voice and speech; musical meaning and semiotic implications of sound structures and gestures general; musical formalism versus narrative speech; functional/biological/evolutionary links between speech and music, role and significance of technology in music and society, etc. etc.

See below for info and videos of performances and presentations.


Friday December 9: Performances

20:00 Alessandro Bosetti: Plane/Talea
20:30 Trevor Wishart: Encounters in the Republic of Heaven, Act 4
21:00 Sten Sandell: Solo piano (cancelled)
21:30 Alex Nowitz: Strophonion
22:00 Daniel Formo: Orchestra of Speech

Saturday December 10: Presentations

10:00 Daniel Formo: Introduction and presentation
10:20 Alessandro Bosetti: Artist presentation
10:40 Trevor Wishart: Artist presentation
11:00 Sten Sandell: Artist presentation (cancelled)

11:30 Diemo Schwarz (IRCAM): technology for speech and sound analysis
11:50 Alex Nowitz: artist presentation
12:10 Shlomi Frige  (University of Tel Aviv): The performance of text as music

12:30 Panel discussion

Alessandro Bosetti (Italy, b. 1973) is a composer, performer and sound artist. Most of his works delve on musicality of spoken language and sonorous aspects of verbal communication. He utilizes misunderstandings, translations and interviews as compositional tools. He has been presenting pieces for voice and electronics blurring the line between electro acoustic composition, aural writing and performance in leading venues all over Europe, Asia and the United States. One of the most innovative radio artists of his generation he created a vast body of work of hybrid, award winning, text-sound and radio compositions for the main Radio and Electro Acoustic Music studios in Europe, most notably for the historical WDR’s Studio Akustische Kunst in Cologne and Deutschland Radio Kultur in Berlin. • melgun.net

Alessandro Bosetti, performance of Plane/Talea

Alessandro Bossetti. presentation

Trevor Wishart (UK, b. 1946) is one of the most well-known pioneers of electroacoustic music dealing with voice and speech. Since the 1970s he has been relentlessly exploring the expressivity of the human voice and the sounds and structures of speech. This has resulted in a extensive body of work including both vocal and electroacoustic music, as well as several books on sonic art and composing with sound and a suite of purpose built sound transformation software. • trevorwishart.co.uk

Trevor Wishart, presentation of the piece Encounters in the Republic of Heaven:

Sten Sandell (Sweden, b. 1958) has worked with combining composition and improvisation in “structurally organised improvisations”. His latest projects erases the boundary between speaking and playing music as two expressions of the same process.
His triple CD Music Inside the Language was winner of Contemporary Sound in 2011 of the swedish Journal of Contemporary Music. Sandell was awarded the Royal Academy of Music’s Jazz Award in 2012 with the motivation: “The pianist Sten Sandell is one of Swedish improvised music’s most brilliant, captivating and independent voices. His musical activities are characterized by a strong artistic integrity, and he has with great consistency developed a characteristic aesthetic attitude that inspires countless musicians.” • stensandell.com

Unfortunately, Sten Sandell could not attend the symposium due to health problems, but very helpfully sent links to the material he planned to present instead:

Sten Sandell solo performance:

Score – borduna ballader och metriker (PDF)

Alex Nowitz (Germany, b 1968) is a composer of vocal, instrumental and electroacoustic music who wrote numerous chamber music pieces and, recently, two rather short pieces for orchestra. His main focus though is the voice. In this way, he created works of full evening lenths for opera, dance and theatre, commissioned by institutions like the Staatstheater Braunschweig (Traumnovelle, 2013), Staatsoper unter den Linden Berlin (hyp‘op III: UNIKATE, 2006), Theater Osnabrueck (Die Bestmannoper, 2006), Schaubuehne Berlin (The Cut and The City, 2008; Summernight’s Dream, 2006) or fabrik Potsdam (Screaming Popes, 2004 ).
Alex Nowitz is also a voice artist, whistling and singing virtuoso who performed in collaboration with numerous musicians from various stylistic areas and who interprets composed new music. He is a tenor and countertenor who also presents a wide array of various extended voice techniques. Since 2004, he has created various solo performance formats (f.i. Studies for a Self-Portrait, Schaubühne Berlin, 2008) and has performed in numerous concert halls and at New Music festivals on the international stage: Warsaw Autumn, Gaudeamus Week Amsterdam, Total Music Meeting Berlin, Jauna Musika Vilnius, Fresh Sound Series San Diego, Musica Viva Lisbon, Multiplace Festival Bratislava, NIME Oslo, fylkingen Stockholm, or universities like Newcastle upon Tyne, Beam Festival at the Brunel University London, etc.
Nowitz is currently a PhD candidate at the Stockholm University of the Arts exploring the potential of the contemporary performance voice and elaborating on a concept what he calls “The Multivocal Voice” • nowitz.de

Alex Nowtiz, Strophonium performance:

Alex Nowitz presentation:

Additional links:
Designing and Playing the Strophonion: Extending vocal art performance using a custom digital musical instrument
Video channel: https://vimeo.com/alexnowitz

Voice Pieces:
[mouth found objects: the vocabulary of consonants]
for one screen and two loudspeakers
for voice solo

Pieces involving voice and strophonion:

Strophonion solo:

Diemo Schwarz presentation:

Daniel Formo (Norway, b. 1978) has a wide background in jazz and improvised music. Currently working with speech as a source for improvised music, he is exploring the wide range of musical expression present in everyday speech genres, and highlighting the connection between conversation and ensemble improvisation as social situations involving communication through sound. In Formo’s artistic research project “Orchestra of Speech” the musical content of everyday speech is deconstructed, analysed, reconstructed and orchestrated live, investigating the relationship between speech and music, dialogue and improvisation, and sound and meaning. • orchestraofspeech.com

Daniel Formo, Orchestra of Speech performance:

Daniel Formo presentation