[Apr 4] Articulate: Speech Technology in the Arts and Science

Composers Kevin Jones (U.S.) and Robert MacKay (U.K.) will present an evening of music and discussion about their work with synthetic speech technology as a part of the CreST Network (Creative Speech Technology) at the University of York. CreST is an international collaboration of science and arts practitioners investigating speech synthesis, interactive speech systems and the development of a common language among people in science and the arts.The performance will feature Mezzo Soprano Laila Salins.

[Apr 4] Articulate: Speech Technology in the Arts and Science

Kevin Jones, Rob Mackay, Laila Salins
Thursday, April 4 2013, 7:30
Admission: Free

Location: Harvestworks – www.harvestworks.org
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker

1) Fizz^Fizz (10’) – 2012, Robert Mackay For Poet, Mezzo-Soprano, and laptops

‘Fizz^Fizz’ is based on poems written by John Wedgewood Clarke for ‘Sea Swim’. The piece combines live spoken word, singing, speech synthesis and field recordings collected from the North Yorkshire Coast. A continuum is set up between the different parts, so that speech morphs into music and soundscape. An ambiguity is set-up between the live and electronic parts. The recognizable surfaces momentarily, to be submerged again in a sonic mist.

robert-mackayIn this piece, a formant synthesiser, originally created by Prof Roger Moore (University of Sheffield) is used like a musical instrument. The parameters have been stretched beyond the range of normal speech in an exploration of its sonic and musical potential, again allowing the performers to travel between recognisable speech and soundscape composition. This work was part of a collaborative project within the CreST Network (http://crestnetwork.org.uk/). An audio recording of the poet’s voice was analysed in order to create control data for the synth, so it sounds like the poet himself. All of the vocal layers (apart from the singer) have been derived from John Wedgewood Clarke’s voice, including the synthesised voice.
‘Sea Swim’ is part of imove: a Cultural Olympiad Programme in Yorkshire – www.imoveand.com/seaswim

imove has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.

2) Kevin Jones If/Then+Really(as if)

If/Then+Really(as if) explores the impact of human-machine interaction and the ways in which technology is an ever more intimate – sometimes intrusive presence in our lives. The piece combines live voice and synthetic voices performing in a musical/dramatic counterpoint. Interactive voice technologies imply questions of meaning, understanding and what constitutes the self. The appearance of understanding is often indistinguishable from actual understanding, often as true of human relations as with technology.

kevin-jonesThis piece questions how meaning is made and unmade through the interaction of a live performer and a synthetic voice system. The setting for the piece is a phone conversation. A telephone options voice, presenting choices to the live performer, begins normally. The choices and responses of the interactive system gradually become more personal and intrusive. An everyday human/machine interaction exposes elements of each that neither had anticipated revealing.

This piece grew out of work with the CreST (Creative Speech Technology) research project at the University of York, U.K. Synthetic voice software has been graciously supplied by Cereproc Ltd. an Edinburgh based speech technology company.

Additional Info

Radio Documentary produced by Hannah Rolfe: Sounds of CreST, The Voice and Technology: https://soundcloud.com/crestnetwork
Full concert, Woodend Gallery, Scarborough, UK, January 26, 2013: https://vimeo.com/60335807
CreST Network website: www.crestnetwork.org.uk


Kevin Jones is a composer, writer and sound artist whose music has been presented throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Canada. His dramatic works for radio have been broadcast internationally and he has written and directed more than a dozen music/theater works over the past two decades. His fiction has been published in the Minetta Review and the Portable Lower East Side and his performance works were included in the anthology Texts/Sound Texts, edited by Richard Kostelanetz. He has received grants and commissions from Meet the Composer, Composer’s Forum, Harvestworks, Security Pacific Galleries, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and New American Radio. Works can be heard at www.kevinjones-soundart.com

Rob Mackay is a composer, sound artist and performer. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Music Technology at the University of Hull, Scarborough Campus. Recent projects have moved towards a more cross-disciplinary approach, including theatre, text in performance, audio/visual installation work, and human/computer interaction. Prizes and honours include: IMEB Bourges (1997 and 2001); EAR99 from Hungarian Radio (1999); Confluencias (2003); La Muse en Circuit (2004 and 2006). His work has received over 100 performances in 16 countries (including several performances on BBC Radio 3). More information and pieces at: www.myspace.com/robflute and www.digital-music-archives.com.

laila-salinsMezzo Soprano Laila Salins has enjoyed a richly diverse career, performing chamber music, world music, jazz, tango, and music theater/opera, and starring in the premieres of a multitude of contemporary music pieces. She has performed with the Music Theater Group (NYC), Opera Factory Zurich, The New Riga Theater, Zurich Opera, the Latvian National Opera, and Connecticut Grand Opera, among others. Her creative collaborations have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, CEC Artslink, the Experimental TV Center, HERE Arts Center, the Soros Foundation and the National Music Theater Conference. The American Latvian Cultural Foundation supported her highly acclaimed recording project of Latvian ballads and drinking songs (Saskandinot). In the fall of 2012 Laila completed her new CD – Elevator Into the Sky – her arrangements of Anne Sexton’s poetry for a jazz chamber music ensemble. http://www.lailasalins.com

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