A few words w/ Tom James Scott
London, 05.2009
CD package, A4 custom fold
Compact Disc, 1 Track, 45mins

Composition for Text, Sine Tone Generator, Two-Stringed Lute,
Harmonium & Bowed Steel-Stringed Acoustic Guitar.

The composition on this CD is part of a larger experiment concerned with the interpretation of type through sound (see Listen Listen).This ongoing work has so far been primarily based on a method of calculating the black : white ratio within a typeface according to the contrast between the glyph in a font and its surrounding bounding box. These ratios are then ‘converted’ into sound, using sine tones whose frequencies express the same ratio. The premise of this is that a specific tone can be calculated for each letter, which when combined with the tones corresponding to other letters, can be used to ‘spell’ words and texts through sound, creating sonic interpretations of the typographic colour of the text.

While most of the work done on the project so far has leaned towards ‘sound design’ as opposed to music, it was my hope that the two worlds might meet at some stage in the process. The musical influences in the project from my own side share some themes as those found in the music of Tom James Scott, so he felt like a natural choice to ask when the time came to invite someone to bring a new, more ‘musical’, dimension to the project. Having discussed various options, we decided it best that Tom choose a text that related to the way that he made music, and use that as a starting point.

The text that he picked is taken from John Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez. It was chosen for a certain sensibility that it contained, which Tom associated with his own playing at the time. It was interpreted through sine tones in the manner described above, and then used as the basic structure around which Tom arranged his composition. The letters were crossed out one by one as they were 'turned' into sound. The sounds derived from the words drift in and out over the duration of the piece as it 'creaks along' (to borrow Tom's description). He explained that he had decided on taking a 'less melodic route', as the project suggested 'more about rocks and hills than melody'.

A few words received it's first airing at my end of year show at CSM, where I got to play it very loud, and was very pleased to hear it looming around the gallery.

I would like to thank Tom for the consideration, time and energy he brought to the project, which has helped to widen the scope of it greatly.

The audio clip below plays an excerpt from the piece: