Beautiful Ships

November 15, 2010 8:47 PM


Another entry for this month's vocalsonly challenge, this...thing combines influences of Gy├Ârgy Ligeti and John Cage. The score can be found here.

The basic principles are as follows: The base pitch/key is C, but it doesn't stay there for long. Syllables follow the rhythms notated in the score, but the pitch for each note is indeterminate. Starting in verse 4, it should become more and more melismatic in each successive verse. On verse 7, 5 voices are in a full Ligeti slide; 2 voices provide a drone, and the eighth voice improvises a simple, tonal-ish, operatic melody. Close with a ridiculously drawn out and out-of-tune, plagal amen.

The text is a series of randomly generated, alternating haiku (5-7-5) and tanka (5-7-5-7-7).

tl;dr version--here's some random stuff. It's pretty stupid. Enjoy!

posted by askmeaboutLOOM (11 comments total)

I forgot to credit the voices. 4 of them (Soprano-Alto-Tenor-Bass) are me, and 4 (Soprano-Alto-Tenor-Baritone) are Trey Beauregard.

Beautiful ships wait.
Plundered, gold summer clashes.
The hard children break.

A priest clashes leaden love.
Liquid lakes walk but sheep clash.
A tower returns.
Short eyes catch joy or love plays.
Hell falls yet spring works.
Kindly, red eyes melt.
Heat strokes fearing, scolding breasts.
Snow sings then hell plays.

The sometimes gold children set.
Sometimes softly, midday walks.
Truth waits or hands turn.
The white flustered eyes retire.
The rough jungles turn.
Perhaps wise men set.
Arrows wait or a ship falls.
Flustered clouds bend ships.

The old frogs diminish.
Mouths work for hands turn a bird.
Joy hunts small autumn.
Redly, armadas loiter.
The prayers return.
Ice melts then love wakes.
Wisely, a small petal talks.
False, twisting girls splash.

A cloud works or wisdom sings.
Bad angels stroke eagerness.

posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 8:53 PM on November 15, 2010

Wow. Damn. That's impressive.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:40 AM on November 16, 2010

This is sweet.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 9:39 AM on November 16, 2010

Thanks! I feel I should note that the difference in listenability varies WILDLY depending on the quality of stereo separation in whatever you use for playback. The dissonances can be especially harsh on a mono system, or if you're far away from a simple stereo pair, but when they're spread through something like headphones, it really rounds the rough edges. It was still painful before we added the cathedral reverb because our (admittedly awful) soprano voices just cut through your face like a hi frequency vorpal chainsaw.

When it comes down to it, this is just us dicking around, but I think the concept is sound enough (or at least, I've convinced myself and possibly others that it is) that it can hold at least some water.

posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 3:30 PM on November 16, 2010


Just dicking around.
posted by man vs sun at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am not technical enough to get all the explanation but it really struck me. A very different way to listen to melody and harmony. I like it a lot. It's like slowly teetering on a ledge.
posted by tunewell at 1:41 AM on November 17, 2010

?refsnarT nattahnaM
posted by Zenabi at 2:19 AM on November 17, 2010

By the tags and comments, it sounds like you were just fucking around, but I think this is pretty well done and has great artistic merit. Yea, you guys are crazy, but this really does stir my artistic mind!
posted by snsranch at 5:49 PM on November 17, 2010

Sometimes, artistic merit stems from just fucking around. Even bad can be good, though, if it's done convincingly enough. It's like when we were in high school band, and the directors told us to play with authority, even when playing the wrong notes. This is 4'27" of authoritative wrong notes. I have no regrets about writing, recording, or posting this, and I'm glad to see such an unexpectedly large, positive response.

On the other hand, a certain unnamed flootist/bandmate/roommate's basic response to it has been blind rage of the "this is bad and you should feel bad" variety...::tear::

Oh well, you can please some of the people with bad music some of the time, and you can please some other people with other bad music some of the time, but you can't please all the people with all your bad music all the time.

posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 2:02 AM on November 18, 2010

but you can please all the bad people with your other music half the time. Alternatively, please can your music be in half bad time for all the people. Which is obviously more democratic if expressed in rather poor east european English. Anyone seen my pills??
posted by MajorDundee at 11:39 AM on November 18, 2010

I just realized I forgot to mention something. This may or may not change your perception of this piece, but as each line was being recorded, it was completely independent of the other lines; we didn't hear all the parts together until after we finished each verse, which also resulted in some retakes because one part or another would be out of rhythm with everyone else.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 7:51 PM on November 19, 2010

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