Masters Composition Project

 

An Exploration and Evaluation of Vocal Manipulation Tools and Techniques

 

People have been listening to the sound of the voice since the day they were born. It follows them in their daily lives, and as most people own one, it continues to be the most effective tool of communication across the globe. Yet its unique timbres and glorious complexity often go by unappreciated by the majority of its audience and users. Fletcher (1973) elegantly describes speech as a “brief, physiologically generated and socially conditioned vibratory impact of the human organism upon the atmosphere.” This seemingly verbose but wholesomely accurate description highlights the complexity of even the comprehension of the human voice, and points out that there is a lot to consider.

 

This compositions provided on this webpage are the results of practice-led research, where the aim was to extract musicality from the voice in new and unique ways, and assist in paving the way for other electroacoustic composers specializing in vocal manipulation. Click here for the full Masters Project text to get a more detailed understanding of what the project is about.

This is the first of four experimental compositions in vocal manipulation. It only uses recordings of the human voice, which are used to generate sounds that undergo mild to severe manipulations. The challenge in this piece was creating lead voices that could be feature for long periods of time while still engaging the listener. These voices are in no way intelligible or recognizable (feel free to guess the sources!), which increases the threshold of manipulation required in this project. Some of the more prominent manipulative techniques used in this piece was re-pitching, combined with timbre manipulation, and hyper-editting.

 

This piece is intended to represent a 'song-like' structure, and introduce hundreds of new sounds and compositional ideas that enhance the dream-like spaces - heavily influenced by the ideas of artists like Bobby McFerrin and Bjork.

This is the second of four experimental compositions. It only uses recordings of the human voice to generate sounds that undergo mild to severe manipulations. This piece explores the use of accents from all around the world reciting the same text from the poem The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenite (1964), and uses of the striking juxtaposition of these accents to make cluttered and erratic textures. Complex organisations and groupings of sampled sounds were managed through Max/MSP.

 

The piece overall has a dark atmosphere and a sense of loneliness among a mist of voices with no identity. It was heavily influenced by the work of Paul Lansky, such as Idle Chatter (1994).

This is the third of four experimental compositions. It only uses recordings of the human voice to generate sounds that undergo mild to severe manipulations. The objective here was manifest conventional musical ideas of sound, form and context in the composition, utilizing the frequency range, transients and timbre of the human voice. While these restrictions were more limiting than anticipated, it gave me many opportunities to explore the depths of cross-synthesis, pitch-tier transferals, and many other spectrum analysis techniques.

 

The end result is a industrial, trance-like track. It makes extended use of consonants and source-filter exchanges between sounds (vocoding).

This is the final piece of the four-part experimental work. It only uses recordings of the human voice to generate sounds that undergo mild to severe manipulations.

This piece features compositional techniques such as Sine Wave Synthesis (which is incredibly fascinating - I would urge any sound enthusiast to read about it), reverb convulsion, partial tracking and extraction, and granular synthesis, and many more.

‘Voicescapes’ are described as a “multidemsional and multidirectional projection of the voice into space which also involves digital transformation of the voice” (Smith and Dean, 2009, cited by Smith and Dean, 2003). This electroacoustic composition was inspired by the idea of voicescapes, and was also heavily influenced by the stylistic work of Trevor Wishart, who also played a central role in the development of one of the key software used throughout this project, Computer Desktop Project