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Gertrude Stein's GEOGRAPHY AND PLAYS
1. For the Country Entirely - John Wanzel
For the Country Entirely is a sonic restaging of the Gertrude Stein short story of the same name. The piece is voiced by Anna Benavides, Brian Taylor and John Wanzel. Sounds and text were arranged and edited by John Wanzel.
John Wanzel is a Chicago based artist, writer and radio producer. He received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. He is a Co-Founded and Executive Producer of Blind Spot, a weekly live experimental radio show on WLUW 88.7 Chicago. His work has shown throughout Chicago, including Dogmatic Gallery, Deadtech, 1/Quarterly Space, The Outer Ear Festival of Sound, and Temporary Services. In 2001, Mr. Wanzel was an artist in residency at the Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago. In 1999 he founded stopGOstop.com, a portal/collective website for several writers, artists, and cultural workers living in Chicago. He has also served as the Assistant Director of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Gallery 2 since 2002.
2. Every Afternoon - Students from Bella Vista Elementary School and David Braden (a poem improvisation for 30 voices)
This work was created for an CD Project of poems from Gertrude's Stein's "Geography and Plays" produced by softpalate. The children are students in my class at Bella Vista Elementary in Oakland, California, located in the neighborhood where Gertrude Stein grew up. I was asking students to reach outside their own experience of time, place, and language to a world and aesthetic very different from theirs. Aware of this tension, I was curious (and skeptical) as to what connection could be made between Gertrude Stein and my 5th graders. A connection did emerge: language. Gertrude Stein's writing has a playful quality to it that children can easily appreciate. Young children respond readily to nursery rhymes, playground chants etc. And once these pre-adolescents were assured that there wasn't a meaning to get, or a quiz to pass, they relaxed and enjoyed the interplay of the dialogue and rhythm of the language. Further, I gave them permission to read only the lines that "spoke to them" in any order they wanted. Not all students connected to the poem, and their reactions were not erased in editing, but became part of the piece. Although I'm not a Stein scholar, I believe she would have approved and enjoyed these loud, soft, irreverant, ethnic, hip-hop infused, voices of her "neighbors."
Voices: Alan Peng, Angalique Gibbs, Ashley Warren, Davante Linyard, Eduardo Vanegas, Edwin Xu, Hang Tran, Henry Huynh, Jenea Enriquez, Jenny Thach, Jenny Yu, Jessica Kong, Jimmy Tang, Juan Ramos, Jun Ruan, Maw-Lay Rucker, Michael Johnson, Ming Li, Francisco "Paco" Jaime, Petty Lai, Phoung Dang, Ronald Williams, Thomas "Roy" Hernandes, Sandy Tran, Stella Hoang, Sulaiman Mohamed, Tiffany Nguyen, Tyrone Tinney, Vonica On, Xavier August.
3. Susie Asado - David Braden
"Susie Asado" was made using my recorded voice, and collaged sounds. The sounds were transformed using Audio Mulch software and edited with CoolEdit2000. Compositionally I kept the order of Gertrude Stein's poem, but divided it into 8 sections. The piece ends with all the sections mixed together simultaneously. In creating "Susie Asado" I let the text inform the editing choices. In the second section, for instance, the phrases "a lean on" "the shoe" "this means" "slipslips" and "hers" were made into separate sound files and assigned different beats and rhythms using a drum machine. The looped phrases literally slipping over each other reveal a hidden wordplay: "slip slips" and "hers" combine to "slippers." For the fifth section with a "pot" and "bobbles" and its plosive alliteration I added the sound of bubbles being blown with a straw into a metal pot. In the last section, I multiplied the voice so that the line is read in choral unison.
I live in Oakland with my family and teach elementary school. I made my first two sound poems almost 20 years ago in a college electronic music course. In 2001 I took an on-line course in experimental writing with Alan Sondheim, and began creating "wordsound compositions." My work has or is scheduled to appear in various on-line and CD magazines: Bath House, Muse-Apprentice Guild, mmzzz, and Sprechen. A full length CD "summermiragemotel" will be released by softpalate (www.softpalate.org). My written poetry has appeared in: Shampoo, Poethia: writing on-line, Moria, Aught, Sidreality, Word For Word, Vert, and Muse-Apprentice Guild
4. Miss Furr and Miss Skeene - Warren Burt
I was taken with "Miss Furr and Miss Skeene," one of the earliest texts in the collection. This short story/poem/play tells the story of two American women living in Paris, studying voice, and enjoying the cafe life of the time. They meet, fall in love, live together, have difficulties, separate, and eventually, both leave Paris. What attracted me to the text was the way Stein combined an obsessive use of language with a simple narrative structure. This seemed to suggest musical possibilities to me.
The children's animation program "Hollywood" has several different computer voice styles it calls "melodic 1" thru "melodic 5." Each of these will "sing" a text typed into the computer, always singing a particular word in the same way, with the same pitch and inflection each time it occurs. This structure, combined with the obsessive repetitive nature of Stein's language generated some wonderful found-object melodies.
The piece then, is a grand compilation of found objects - a found text, a found method of text setting, and found harmonies derived from the found melodies. In the juxtaposition of all these found objects, however, hopefully the result is greater than the sum of the parts.
This piece was commissioned by VOYS, Inc. with funds provided by the Music Fund of the Australia Council.
Warren Burt attended the State University of New York, Albany (BA, 1971) and the University of California, San Diego (MA, 1975) before moving to Australia in 1975. In Australia he has worked in academia (La Trobe University, NSW Conservatorium, Victorian College of the Arts, Australian National University), education, and radio (freelance and commissioned productions for ABC and PBAA), and as a composer, film maker, video artist, and community arts organizer. In 1998 he was an artist-in-residence at the Djerassi Artists Program, California, and he was awarded a 1998-2000 Australia Council Composer's Fellowship. In 2001 and 2002, he was Visiting Professor of Composition at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Currently, he is researching microtonality at the University of Wollongong, in Wollongong, New South Wales.
5. A Portrait of One - Fadladder
Fadladder has two faces: David and Noel Miller. Fadladder is an avant-art soundscape sort of thing. They both love Gertrude Stein and this is the third Stein piece they've committed to tape.
Fadladder has three CD releases. The first CD, "Windowtree", was released on Mutant Music to universal acclaim. If you haven't heard of it perhaps you are not part of the universe.
"The Five Gnossinopedies" (our take on Erik Satie) was released on Epiphany Records and a split release with our friend Datura 1.0 (www.daturaonezero.com) has also made it's CDR way onto the marketplace through www.dollarcd.com. It only costs a dollar.
David also plays keyboards in pop-rock-synth-punk band Avenpitch and he, Noel and a few others are brewing up Love Power; a rock band/love cult.
6. "He Said It" - Robert Quillen Camp
"He Said It" was recorded live (really only the broken clavichord and the tea kettle are live -- everything else is computer-triggered samples) at the Ontological Theater in NYC as part of their NOISE! Festival on July 22, 2005. The voices are: Ryan Eggensperger, David Frank, Alexis Poledouris, and Lucy Smith.
7. "Mutterbutterjinglemash" - [N]+Semble
Mutterbutterjinglemash is based on Gertrude Stein's Advertisements. The track is a medley, or "jinglemash" of various redundancies and recurring themes within the Stein work set to a somewhat jazzy/melodic score. Vocals on the track are provided by Sandy Florian.
[N]+Semble is Talan Memmott and his computer. Talan Memmott is a hypermedia writer/artist originally from San Francisco California. His literary Hypermedia work appears widely on the Internet.
8. "Sacred Emily" - Ergo Phizmiz
Turntables, Editing & Mix by Ergo P. Phizmiz
Sources: "Savoy Orpheans", "The World of George Formby", "50 Years of the BBC 1922-1972", "Songs of British Birds", "Vocal Gems from the Student Prince", "The Victor Sylvester Ballroom Orchestra", "BBC Sound Effects of Death and Horror", "Rhythms of Steam", "Oldtime Music Mit Siegfried's Mechanischem Musikkabinett", "Eddie Layton The Mighty Wurlitzer"
Text performed by Edith P. Paltrow
Recorded at the Invention Hovel, Ventnor, Isle of Wight 2005 * www.ergophizmiz.com
NOTES Gertrude Stein's GEOGRAPHY AND PLAYS
In an ongoing celebration of the roughly 100th anniversary of Gertrude Stein's Geography and Plays, softpalate (www.softpalate.org) will be matching various sound artists (audio artists, performance artists, soundtext artists, composers, radio producers, soundpoets, DJ's, re-mix artists, turntablists, etc.) with texts from Geography and Plays over the next several years.
The texts of Gertrude Stein's Geography and Plays have long eluded production. By their very nature, these texts seem almost unproduceable for the stage, perhaps written more for a theater of the mind. In spite of their apparent unproduceability, softpalate proposes taking another look at these plays, but this time as audio productions. While the physical staging of a Stein play may be difficult to envision, and even undesirable, the sonic qualities of her writing strike with an immediacy that few writings can claim, making the texts of Geography and Plays perfectly suited to the audio medium.
Audio artists of all ilks interested in participating in these productions are encouraged to contact softpalate.
- Erik Belgum, executive director, Softpalate
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