Clipping

Olson, tape, noise

John Melillo

The tape recorder, implies Olson, makes a demand that is contiguous with the audience at the reading. It calls for the reading to become a performance, like a “concert or something.” This problem seems ironic coming from Olson, who described projective verse as a return to the possibilities of the voice and orality. I would like to take Olson’s question — and his anxiety — seriously in order to argue that it embeds both a threat to and an unacknowledged affinity with his poetics.

In response to a request to record his reading at Goddard College on April 12, 1959 (made available by the Slought Foundation and PennSound), Charles Olson quipped about the apparatus in front of him: “What happens if it just goes on and I don’t say anything?”

[audio: Charles Olson at Goddard]

Introducing simple open-source tools for performative speech analysis: Gentle and Drift

Marit MacArthur

When we listen to a poetry reading — recorded or live — we constantly, half-consciously assess how well the poet captures and keeps our attention. I do not need to tell poets, and those who study poetry, that the words of a poem are only half of the equation, sometimes less. Pitch and pitch range, intonation patterns, volume/intensity, speaking rate/tempo, rhythm,  stress/emphasis, vocal timbre — such paralinguistic features affect our experience and interpretation of a performed poem. I say performed, rather than read, because every poetry reading is a performance — even if Poets & Writers’ Funding for Readings & Workshops application would have us think otherwise. Among paralinguistic features, intonation patterns — the rise and fall of vocal pitch — interest poets a great deal. The poetics of Robert Frost, for one, hinge on the “tone of meaning … without the words” (“Never Again Would Bird’s Song Be the Same”). 

When we listen to a poetry reading — recorded or live — we constantly, half-consciously assess how well the poet captures and keeps our attention. I do not need to tell poets, and those who study poetry, that the words of a poem are only half of the equation, sometimes less. Pitch and pitch range, intonation patterns, volume/intensity, speaking rate/tempo, rhythm,  stress/emphasis, vocal timbre — such paralinguistic features affect our experience and interpretation of a performed poem.

New at PennSound: Previously unreleased Robert Frost

Chris Mustazza

As part of my work to excavate, digitize, and contextualize one of the first poetry audio archives in US, The Speech Lab Recordings, I’m thrilled to announce a significant addition to the collection: new digitizations of previously unreleased Robert Frost recordings, made in the Speech Lab in 1933 and 1934.

These recordings, which may be the first recordings ever made of Frost, in one sense mark a departure from the aesthetic circumscription of the collection. Many of the poets who were recorded in professors W. Cabell Greet and George W. Hibbitt’s Columbia University lab built for the study of American dialects operated in a modernist tradition of formal innovation.

"La parole au timbre juste": Apollinaire, poetry audio, and experimental French phonetics

Chris Mustazza

The oldest recordings in PennSound are currently those of Guillaume Apollinaire, recorded on December 24, 1913, almost exactly 102 years ago from the time of this post. As Richard Sieburth notes in “The Sound of Pound: A Listener’s Guide,” 1913 was a crucial year in the history of the phonotext. A then-Imagist Ezra Pound visited the lab of l’abbé Pierre-Jean Rousselot, the groundbreaking phonetician and dialect scholar. Pound read into Rousselot’s phonoscope, a device that could inscribe sound to paper.

Visualizing applause in the PennSound archive

Tanya E. Clement and Stephen McLaughlin

Applause at the end of Charles Olson’s Vancouver Poetry Conference reading, August 14, 1963

What if you could identify the applause in every recording in the PennSound archive? With that information, you might ask who receives the most applause, which poems by a given author are most likely to spur an audience response, and which venues lend themselves to the warmest reception. In the following we present our initial work toward using machine learning to answer just such questions.