I've written about the work of artist and composer, Noah Wall, on Boing Boing before (here and here). In his latest project, Speech Patterns, Noah derives music from the rhythm, tone, and timbre of the human voice using source material including the voices of Octavia Butler, Michel Foucault, a cattle auctioneer, people speaking in tongues, and ASMR.
Each limited edition LP and cassette features hand-stamped cover art using shapes derived from Speech Patterns notation.
From the liner notes:
Starting with a phone machine message left by the late Michael Evans, Noah took a bunch of YouTube videos of conversations and speeches, put the audio through Melodyne (an autotune app) and then saved the results as a MIDI document. From there he spread the data out to various MIDI instruments to play back the pitch conversions of the sourced talk. The material is stretched out, looped, and manipulated in various ways to achieve a true polyphony that belies its monophonic origins. Even more than musique concrete, the results seem utterly divorced from their original source, as here another layer of representation is eliminated by rubbing out the content of the speeches, as opposed to using a sound recognizable as a train, for instance, or anything whose sound only signifies the object itself rather than additionally conveying a linguistic meaning. Sometimes they're purposely contrary to their source material, as in the ominous, bass-heavy "ASMR," a marked contrast to the intentionally soothing, semi-whispered female voice it's taken from. The music is startlingly melodic, given its backstory, but Noah's old one-man band Jukeboxer demonstrated his capabilities as a tunesmith; Speech Patterns is the logical product of the same mind behind the Jukeboxer songs as well as the subversive masterstroke of making anagrams of every Brian Eno/Peter Schmidt Oblique Strategy card (Grotesque Tables II). The music's polyrhythms, derived from the cadences of the speakers' phrasing, indicate a parallel between polyrhythm and dialogue, as well as recalling Conlon Nancarrow's dizzying Studies for Player Piano and Frank Zappa's "While You Were Art II" (a Synclavier playback of a transcription of one his guitar solos).
Images: Promo images from Noah Wall.