Your challenge this week is to take the beat slicing techniques we looked at in these lessons..
.. and apply them to speech. There are many traditions that connect speech with percussion, from beatboxing to konnakol, and that connect speech with other instruments like scat singing.. Furthermore, as Diana Deutsch discovered (nice radiolab podcast piece on this), if you listen to speech on loop, you'll eventually stop hearing it as speech, and start hearing it as music. So you could take a lot of different approaches to this.. The sound could be actual speech, 'nonsense' speech, random syllables, whatever you like!
- Record yourself speaking rhythmically (for example using audacity and your laptop mic, or a phone app), and slice that up
- Record speech synthesis (e.g. click the speaker icon in google translate - try it with meaningless made-up words..)
- Take an existing recording of speech, or if you prefer someone singing or actually beatboxing.. (here's an m.i.a. sample, and the 'algorave generation, we love repetition' samples in English and Spanish)
- something else
Once you have your sound source, you'll need to edit it into a coherent loop. You need to somehow edit it so that it starts on a 'down beat' and lasts a certain number of beats (usually a power of 2, e.g. 4, 8, or 16 beats). In audacity you can hold down shift and press space to play a selection on loop, which is a good way of testing if something is looping properly by ear.. I'll do a live stream soon to demonstrate this process.
Alternatively you could manually cut the sounds into short percussive parts for arranging with the
n patterns and mininotation, if you prefer - that might be more work.
Then start slicing, splicing, chopping and striating until you come up with something weird/interesting. Try juxtaposing / mixing that with a less messed-up version. You could then either record a few repetitions of a single pattern, or if you fancy it and have some time, try to flesh it out into a whole track. Have fun with it!
Things to think about
- How speech changes when you start treating it as sound
- The relationship between speech perception and movement (check out the McGurk effect)
- How does slicing longer sounds feel compared to sequencing individual sounds?