Daisuke Nakajoh

Human voice variations no.2

The track you present for the festival, Human voice variations no. 2 , is based on a play written by Jean Cocteau and entitled La voix humaine. Can you talk about your work? How was it technically realized and recorded?

In this work, Cocteau’s script is not used and the setting is replaced to 21st Century Japan. Originally La voix humaine is a play and this is an electroacoustic music, that makes a transposition work.
The texts I used in this work came from taking a dictation of women’s conversation in Japan of today. This is a kind of sampling process of words, from verbal, oral to written words. This method could be an application of a technique of musique concrète, and I took much of the materials should be cutouts of our ordinary life.
In this work, spoken words and sentences have an attitude of meaning something but actually they don’t mean anything, and the mixture of 3 languages (Japanese, English and French) makes an acoustic circumstance in which listener’s acquisition of meanings disengages, and different reconstruction happens according to the part of the language that could be caught by each listener’s ears. Nouns and proper nouns are consciously used because they have solicitation of meanings.Texts were sampled and written in Japanese and translated into English and French roughly, so difference of meaning between languages is also blurred.

Woman’s voice is basically recorded in 3 tones, up, down and flat, and they multiplied in 3 languages up to 9 combinations that comprise matrix. There are parts composed by using this matrix and also there are parts composed by reflection of whispers that can be audible.

Voices were recorded with microphone, and the sounds of the telephone ringing were recorded with both microphone and line connection, using several mobile phones. Plug noise part is recorded using line connected iPhone and playing headphone jack as a noise instrument. Then recoded takes were combined, edited and arranged on ProTools according to the composition above.

The voice performance was by non-professional woman, and criterions were a type and atmosphere of voice. She is a native Japanese speaker and no practice or training of pronunciation was applied before recording in English and French to point up non-nativeness. To compose this work I needed plain and natural materials to make a musical circumstance that sounds common as well as not familiar in the real world. Professional actress, voice actress and professional singer were not adequate to this project.
The only protagonists of this work, both on the original play and your adaptation, are the voice of a woman and the ringing of a telephone, What lead you to work on this text in particular?

La voix humaine is a poésie as a play that cuts out a life of happiness and madness lurching between the presence and absence of love. The emotional subtleties and dynamics were described by the simple settings with the voice of a woman and the ringing of a telephone, and the conversation changes into the monologue because the voice on the phone is woman’s side only.
I think this setting is effective even in this 21st Century. The telephone is a technology that makes people talk beyond distance, and human emotion has universality beyond time. This is a great play, though it is a tragic one.
What aspects of voice and sound in Japanese culture, do you want to indagate with your work and your artistic research?

In this work I am interested in the transition of acceptance of Japanese aesthetics. (e.g. Has it changed from Japonisme era in 19th Century or not?) Being cute is one of the virtue in Japan, it is known as Japanese adjective Kawaii, and many animations, computer games, mangas, fashions, idols and vocaloids may have been introduced in Europe, I guess Japanese women still impress exotic and also their maturity/immaturity is distinctive. This is an aspect of Japanese culture of today that I handled in this work, and it may sound to be contradictory but this piece is the most musical one of 3 variations, in the meaning of not using musical tones. Japanese aspects in voice and sound seem versatile to me, there are ambiguousness and ambiguity together.
About the picture:
This work is presented in the form of fixed media of recorded audio with acousmonium etc. and presented in the form of live set with 4 to 8ch multi loudspeakers, accompanies live effect and performing act.
This picture is a live set in Tokyo in 2013, direction and operation by composer, live effect by Itah, and performing act by Hiro, who is the woman of the recorded voice.