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Contact! 10.2

Spring 1997

"What Are You Talking About?" by Bentley Jarvis
Notes and Comments by Kevin Austin

Following the thread of discussing particular works, the following is about Bentley Jarvis's What Are You Talking About? from DISContact! II, disc 2, track 7. The item begins with a timeline and then briefly describes materials, processes and form.

All comments are invited

Composed: 1994 (?)
Duration: 2'45" (The disc says 2'50")

Comments: Mostly text over vocal processes

Waves of sleep in an ocean of dreams
In an ocean of sleep,
Dreams of waves.

0:00 quasi-klang (*) and vocally derived complexes 'ah', descending; fade in laughter
:08 (*) gentle
:11 (t) 'And the other ... the other one I had ...'
:14 (*) sharper; 'ha'
:20 butt-edit, quasi (*)
:22 (t) 'What are you talkin' about'; laughter
:32 (*)
:32 (t) voice overlap: ' Somehow ...' ' What ' etc, voices continue and start dissolves; laughter, sibilants (consonants? cluster?)
:38 (*) increased confusion
:47 butt-splice (*)
:51 (t) 'Somehow special hour… '
:56 (*); increased complexity of layers
1:04 (t) ' Strange it was like a big er ...'
:06 chord-like; diminishing complexity
:11 structural mirror? (through repetition around this point)
:13 (t) ' hours'n'hours ' loop
:22 text out
:26 butt-splice, then (*); cascaded laughter, fragmentation
:39 (t) ' somekind of special… '
:44 mild (*)
:54 (t) ' and the other… '
:56 wash-like (*)
2:06 (*) butt-splice; laughter
:11 + upper cluster
:19 first ascending gliss (upper cluster); fade in 'hours'n'hours' loop; tempo slowed
:21 (t) ' hours'n'hours ' loop fade in
:39 (*) stops everything but laugh
:43 (t) 'What are you talkin' about?' solo (tag function)
:45 OUT

Major elements:

(t) text
(v) voice
(v-s) vocal sounds
(v-k) complexes derived from voice
(*) or (k) klang (possibly fm-type complex)

Families of sounds from :
(v-s) vocal sounds
(v-k) complexes
(k) klang (also notated as (*) in timeline)
There is generaly a relatively clear differentiation between level/
categories (families) of sounds.

Principal processing :
transposition with speed change
repetition (loop) of sample, pitch-shifted (possibly with
time compression/expansion viz ->
granulation-type stretching
filtering (reduced frequency range seems intentional)

Text :
Usually clear, marginal blurring of text level (t to v) at about 0:39.

Surface characterized by wave-like nature (viz) :
dynamics (cresc / dim)
location (uni- and multi-directional panning)
pitch descending (like breaking waves)

Multiple layers :
Clear text, fragmenting text, fragmented text, 'ah', laughter, sibilant/consonant complex. New material often introduced as overlap/crossfade.

Butt-splice cuts off previous material (articulation of structure? cadence equivalent? disruption of attention?).

Song-form :
Phrases articulated by (*) (k - klang) and butt-splices.

A large inverted arch, with the 'climax' at 2:19, with upward rising (waking?) glissando.

I find a number of images in here hearing this piece, as expressed in my notes, the two dominant ones being sleep/dream and ocean.

The parallels have never been lost. (The third implied element of this triangle is death.) The word WAKE springs to mind.

It is reported that after Joyce finished Finnegans Wake, he was planning a third book (of the trilogy Ulysses -- A Life in a Day --, Finnegans Wake (Dream)) about Life. It was to be about the ocean.

- Kevin Austin
95 - vi - 28
Montreal QC

© CEC 1997

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