Olomouc Voice Diversity September 2024

(by Fabio Raikar, Falko Reents, Jolana Šnajdrova, Anna Štěpánová)


Our first inspiration for our project occurred to us (actually to Falko) when we were in a bar in Olomouc, confronted with a whirlwind of sounds surrounding us, most of which consisted of voices. Since Falko had fallen sick before the trip had commenced, he suffered from an inflammation in his ears, which only made his hearing worse in the bar. A band was playing people were shouting, an old man was reciting poetry, and tables were being moved. As a result, we could barely hear what the person next to us was saying. You can imagine how Falko felt when trying to listen to anything he could make sense of. Then, it occurred to him that this chaos of sounds and its eventual dissolution into one single voice and into one single instrument could be our plan for our sound scape. Since we had not attended one input session before this evening, since it was the first one in Olomouc, we could not think of a theoretical basis for as to why it would be interesting for a listener to hear our sound scape. However, we just thought that it could be interesting for the listener because of the different stages that go from intelligible, singular voices to a whole, tremendous, unintelligible murmur. While probably everyone can think of what a murmur sounds like, each murmur holds a certain uniqueness to it, depending on the context and the composition of the voices, not to mention the background noises and other sounds.

Hearing the first session on soundscapes, our plan also aligned with what Thoreau said. If we wanted to follow his mantra, we had to accept that there is music in everything, also the human voice. Naturally, the human voice had always been used for music. In comparison to the role that instruments played however, it had mostly been used as a meaning maker, whereas its quality as a sound maker had been overlooked or not been valued as much as those of the other instruments. I use the word other, because I count it as an instrument, having the same properties that all the other instruments have too, besides the fact that it can also convey language.

While it is true, of course, that the human voice is an easily accessible source of sound, this fact should not be an argument ruling out its use as such. Besides, trying to capture nature or the hustle and bustle of life, it should still be considered that a human voice, to a certain extent, is a very natural thing, the fact being taken into account that making a sound with one’s voice is one of the first actions done, after being released into life. After asking our group what they thought about it, we initially agreed upon carrying out this plan. However, we, quite soon came to the realization that, having come into first contact with the sound capturing, that this plan was not as we feasible as we had assumed. Especially, capturing different stages of intelligibility posed an obstacle not easily overcome. So, we figured, we would still hold on to the idea of capturing voices, yet in a different way and also with a different goal. In other words, we did not quite know what would be the outcome, only that we wanted to involve the human voice as a source of sound. So, first, we tried out the microphones by merely saying random things into the microphone in order to find out how it captures our voices. Then, we relatively quickly came to the decision that we wanted to capture different voices saying different things, some meaningful, others blatantly stupid. Another goal of ours was to capture different languages. To sum it up, the purpose of our project turned out to be a showcase of the plethora of different ways a voice could be used for. 

However, we also did not consequently stick to this plan. For example, we added our messing around with the microphone at the beginning, or we put the violin section at the end. The intentions involved around these bits, were first showing our recording and planning process, and secondly having a nice closer at the end of our soundscape, resembling a section of end credits somewhat. In the end, we made a product we could not foresee. However, this experience, not sticking to plans and having to improvise a lot, was, if anything else a reflection of life to us.

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