Clipping

The reading series

Orchid Tierney

During my tenure as the 2017–18 Price Lab/PennSound fellow, I have had the opportunity to peruse the many MP3 files in the PennSound archive and to consider what inferences and conclusions can be drawn from the relationships between sound, excess, and discard.[1] 

During my tenure as the 2017–18 Price Lab/PennSound fellow, I have had the opportunity to peruse the many MP3 files in the PennSound archive and to consider what inferences and conclusions can be drawn from the relationships between sound, excess, and discard.[1] Discard may seem an unlikely object when staged in relation to sound and, in particular, to the special sonic registers we associate with an audio recording of poetry.

Remixing the sound archive: Cut-up poetry recordings

Brandon Walsh

[Recently I spoke at NEMLA 2017 with Ken Sherwood and Chris Mustazza. The panel was on “Pedagogy and Poetry Audio: DH Approaches to Teaching Recorded Poetry/Archives,” and my own contribution extended some past experiments with using deformance as a mode of analysis for audio recordings. The talk was given from notes, but the following is a rough re-creation of what took place.]

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.