Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Poetics Seminar on Sound - 4/7/2014

This post is for anyone attending the 4/7/2014 session on sound and poetry in Charles Bernstein's poetic seminar. 

Practice with waveforms 

I thought it might be a good idea for everyone to get some familiarity with waveforms before the actual session. It seems like SoundCloud is the easiest way to go about this (no need to install any software, we can work on something collaborative, etc). So, to this end, I've uploaded a reading I spend a lot of time thinking about, William Carlos Williams' 1942 reading of "To Elsie." (I have an essay coming out on the context and provenance of this recording, and will post the link if it's out in time for this session.) You can see the recording here.

SoundCloud will allow you to see the recording in its waveform form. It should be pretty intuitive to look at--the x-axis is time and the y-axis is intensity/volume. This is the visualization that most people use when they edit audio (though audio tools will let you zoom in and out, etc.).  This image is a screenshot from Audacity, a fantastic and free audio editing tool.

It would be great if everyone could take a look at the recording, but for the intrepid souls amongst you, please do consider creating a SoundCloud account and commenting within the recording. Instructions on commenting are available here. I dropped in a couple of annotations, which will pop up when the player gets to the segment of the recording where I've appended them. If you'd like to add some comments (which I hope you will), it might be a good idea to focus on the sound of the recording. For example, how do the expressive properties of the sound (pitch, volume, prosody, tempo, etc) at any given point interact with the form and the content of the poem?

If anyone is interested, here is a copy of my seminar paper from my Fall 2013 poetics seminar, where I work toward a phonotextual analysis of this poem. It's still very rough, but I hope to build upon it this term. Any comments very welcome! The paper goes beyond waveforms to spectrograms and musical notation, but I think it gives a decent overview of some of the phonotextual considerations.

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