Since I experienced quickness as an auditory property of the book, I face the challenge of finding a way to adapt that experience to the visual medium of the blox. As a musician, I have always associated music with color. For example, a high E is an orange note to me, while the C, D, and E above middle C are more in the green range. This condition is called synesthesia; it means that when my auditory senses are stimulated, it triggers a neurological response which stimulates my visual senses, thus creating my dual experience of sounds and colors. With that in mind, I wish to combine sound and color in my blox, making what was previously an auditory experience into one which is also visual.
Tag Archives: sound
As with my posts on exactitude, I found it difficult to relate my experience of Mr. Penumbra to Calvino’s quality of quickness. However, I first listened to this novel as an audiobook, which actually helped me crystallize my thoughts about quickness in this work. The novel is written in a conversational style, as if the reader just sat down with the main character and listened to him tell his story. As I listened to the audiobook, I found myself eagerly anticipating what would happen next. The story moved along quickly, with twists and turns, but it also had that personal touch, like the main character’s witty asides and brief moments of reflection, so common to auditory storytelling. For me, the auditory aspect of the novel relates most closely to quickness because reading the book was like having a conversation with an old friend.
I noticed a connection between quickness and layering in graphic design. Just as the words in Ah appeared on the screen in layers, so do artists create layers in space (in a collage, for instance) and time (as in a piece of music). Layers indicate simultaneity and complexity in a composition: a choral work will produce a much richer sound if written in four part harmony instead of unison.
Another good example of layering in everyday life is a city map. A map consists of many different representations of data all superimposed on one another. For instance, this map of London includes graphs of the landscape, highways, railroad tracks, roads, Metro stations, and other buildings of interest. Layering allows cartographers to represent this information simultaneously in a condensed format that is easily accessible to readers.
Soundpoems by Jörg Piringer is a great example of Calvino’s exactitude. In Soundpoems, animated letters, the smallest building blocks of language, combine in particular ways to create literature. According to Calvino, literature is the fulfillment of language. Piringer’s minimalist approach to poetry takes us to the fundamental units of language: letters and phonemes. His combination of programming and sound is exquisite: the skill required to create this type of animation is specialized and exact.
Furthermore, by breaking language down into its smallest building blocks, Piringer asks us to consider the arrangement of letters and sounds in a new way. We tend to take language for granted: our environments are saturated with written and spoken words. The combination of letters, sounds, and animation puts a whole new spin on the phrase “poetry in motion” and reminds us that language is alive, dynamic, and exact.
In Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino lists some essential qualities of good literature. The first of these is lightness, or literature’s ability to rise above the heaviness of living. Through the lightness of literature, we as readers can take flight into another world: the world of the story, poem, or play. Far from being wishful thinking or escapism, lightness is a new way of looking at the world, Calvino says. His image for the new millennium is taken from Boccaccio’s Decameron, an Italian classic. In the story, the poet Cavalcanti leaps over a tombstone to escape some approaching men who wish to engage in a philosophical argument. For Calvino, Cavalcanti’s leap over the tombstone exemplifies how the lightness of poetry leaps over the heaviness of mortality.
Calvino also uses Franz Kafka’s story “The Bucket Rider” as an example of lightness: the protagonist, a poor boy unable to afford the coal necessary to stay warm, flies away in an empty coal bucket to a world of his own imagination. Surrounded by the utmost privation, the boy literally flies to another world. The lightness of his fantasy enables him to rise above the heaviness of his circumstances.
Calvino draws analogies from the scientific world as well: the “heaviness” of matter is made of atoms, which, paradoxically, are mostly empty space. Also, computers run programs via software, an intangible sequence of commands which nevertheless produces concrete results when we run the program.
As a competitive opera singer, I see lightness in the arias I have performed. I chose “Der Holle Nacht,” or the Queen of the Night aria, from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute as my example of lightness. Everything about opera is theatrical and over the top, from the storylines of the operas themselves to the makeup and costumes to the sound of the music. In order to produce such a light, high pitched sound, the singer who plays the Queen of the Night must provide her voice with an extraordinary amount of bodily support. She must sing with good posture, an open rib cage, strong diaphragm, lifted soft palate, correct tongue and lip placement, and controlled air supply. While paying attention to vocal technique, she must also bring her acting skills and artistic interpretation to the role, all the while making her performance look effortless.
I chose Natalie Dessay’s performance of the aria because I think she does the best job combining vocal technique with artistry. Click on the link below to watch.