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Yannis Kyriakides | Subvoice

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Subvoice

by Yannis Kyriakides

Nine compositions, ranging from solo to orchestra that deal with the translation of text and voice.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Words and Song Without Words
Yannis Kyriakides & Francesco Dillon
9:58 $0.99
clip
2. Paramyth
Yannis Kyriakides, Barbara Lüneburg, Michel Marang & Reinier van Houdt
15:54 $0.99
clip
3. Toponymy
Yannis Kyriakides & Hezarfen Ensemble
12:44 $0.99
clip
4. Music for Viola
Elisabeth Smalt
11:53 $0.99
clip
5. Circadian Surveillance
Yannis Kyriakides & The Electronic Hammer
24:06 $0.99
clip
6. Der Komponist (Live)
Yannis Kyriakides, Philharmonie Zuidnederland & Bas Wiegers
22:08 $0.99
clip
7. Testudo
Yannis Kyriakides & Dario Calderone
12:52 $0.99
clip
8. Politicus (Dawn in the Giardini)
Yannis Kyriakides
14:05 $0.99
clip
9. Oneiricon
Yannis Kyriakides & Maze
25:03 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The nine works in this collection represent an investigation into ideas of voice and language that I have been exploring in the last years. They range from the works in which text is directly encoded into music, such as Politicus, Words and Song Without Words, Toponymy and Music for Viola, to ones in which the voice is examined, dissected and pulled apart, as in Circadian Surveillance, Testudo, Paramyth, and Der Komponist.
In both approaches the underlying idea is to explore what happens when material that has a clear semantic form, whether communicated in text or speech, is translated into musical structure.
That the words lose their original intelligibility is self-evident, but what can still be discerned is some act of communication. The music becomes a vehicle for a different semantic structure and expression, and whether we try to unravel the meaning in it, hear the reflection of a voice as if speaking in a foreign tongue, or simply let it float over our consciousness as an abstract form, it still retains the patterns of language, and we are continually reminded of its capacity to communicate.

In the pieces where the text is encoded, which I call the 'cipher music', there are some parallels in the cryptographic tradition. Here the music becomes a surrogate to language. The words hide inside another medium, undecipherable to the ear, but with a score and the decryption cipher, the text can be uncovered and re-assembled. There is a long history of music being used for cryptographic purposes, from 15th Century manuals on how to send messages using church bells, to the practice of some composers of using letter names of notes to convey messages or as signatures; Schumann, and Elgar were two notable examples.
Personally I have been fascinated by the reverse process, not as a way of encrypting messages, but how code can be experienced as music, ever since I came across number station transmissions, which I explored in the 1999 work a conSPIracy cantata. Unlike spy transmissions, in the pieces in this collection there is no secret message to be conveyed, all the encoded texts are already uncovered, there is simply the fascination to hear them translated into another medium.

In the works where voice is at the centre of the translation process, the music takes over the characteristics of the vocal apparatus. It places the mechanism and expressive nuances of speech under the microscope to elicit a sonic landscape that reveals an aspect of the personal identity of speaker, as well as the language or dialect that is spoken. One could argue that a sense of the vocal pervades much music; that not only do we listen to music in ways that are not so far removed from how we hear speech, but that music reveals itself through a narration of sorts, where hierarchies of sound, are made perceptible to us through a syntactical structure that is very much like how language functions. Just as language creates its own narrative, music creates its own narrator embedded within the music itself.

These ideas are reflected in the two pieces in this collection that are dedicated to composers. In a quote from the opening work: Words and Song Without Words, Felix Mendelssohn wants to argue that music is less ambiguous than language: "Words have many meanings, but music we could both understand correctly". In Der Komponist, another great German composer, Helmut Lachenmann states: "The composer has nothing to say...(he) must make something, and whatever he makes, will say more than he himself can". Composers advocating the power of music over words.

There is another thread of works running in the collection that deal in language and the encoding of information based on material from Cyprus. Paramyth uses the spoken voice of a traditional Cypriot storyteller, time-stretched and magnified until it seems to sing. Toponymy takes the politically contentious subject of the renaming of towns and villages in Northern Cyprus, by encoding the place names in both Greek and Turkish, and sonifying their ethnic make up, pre-1974. Circadian Surveillance uses a time-condensed 24-hour recording made near the buffer zone in Nicosia to reflect on the temporal scale of human activity, voices are tracked and set against the larger sonic patterns around a day.

The three remaining pieces are based on more ancient material. In an excerpt from the 12 hour Politicus, a work made for the Venice Biennale in 2011, the dawn chorus seems to be participating in the dialogues of Plato's Politicus, sonified on a prepared disklavier piano. Testudo encodes a fragment of a text by Sophocles in a duet between a contrabass player and synthesized tortoise sounds; a retelling of the myth of Hermes' invention of music. Finally Oneiricon, an open-form composition for interactive score on tablet and laptops, algorithmically encodes words from a Byzantine dream interpretation book into constantly evolving musical phrases.

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