About Traces of Speech
Around 1985 I started to write sound poetry. At first I used the common Latin alphabet, with different pronunciations for the individual poems (Dutch, German, French, English). But after a few years I found this too much of a limitation and learned the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), making it possible to use different pronunciations of the same letter in one text. So I could create poems with more variety of sound color.
However, only too soon I found out that the IPA did not have symbols for many of the voice sounds I used to make, and started to extend it with signs of my own invention. This developed into the – ever unfinished – system I am using now for functional sound poetry scores: BLIPAX (Blonk’s IPA Extended).
It turned out that many of the symbols of BLIPAX were not contented with an existence as dead letters, but took on a life of their own. They kept changing their form, as it were, under my hands as I was trying to notate a score. It resulted in drawings that live somewhere halfway between sound poetry and visual poetry: Traces of Speech.
The basic idea for this book/CD package was: firstly, converting the drawings into electronic sound by importing them (mostly as raw data) into audio software, and secondly, converting them into texts (in English and German) through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Each of the three forms (drawings, sound and texts) were then subjected to further treatment.
In the case of the texts I got, the greatest challenge in reciting them was the interpretation of the multitude of punctuation signs. I tried to create some variation by doing it in radically different ways.
The book has seven ‘chapters’. Each has its own theme, and each begins with a handmade drawing, followed by some digital treatments of it, and ending with two versions of the OCR texts created from it.
On the CD I combined electronic sounds and text recitations of the different themes into seven sound environments. Here I refrained from pursuing any personal expression.
Jaap Blonk, August 2012
About Plea for Proof
The chapter “Plea” in the book “Traces of Speech” has 6 pages: a title page and 5 images.
Plea 1 is the original drawing made by hand, Plea 2 and 3 are details of it, slightly manipulated digitally.
For the CD track “Plea for Proof” both electronic sounds and texts were generated from Plea 1.
The sounds were generated by importing the image into sound software as raw data. Then they were subjected to various digital treatments.
The texts (Plea German and Plea English) were created by feeding Plea 1 into OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, and letting the program make German and English text of it.
The texts are heard read on the track “Plea for Proof”. The punctuation signs in the texts are interpreted as ‘inward plosives’ (done by sucking inwards or by breathing inwards, not by the usual outward breath).
Plea 4 and 5 were created simply by converting the texts into mallet and percussion fonts.
Jaap Blonk, September 2012
performed and recorded by Jaap Blonk