Junto Project 0286: Found in Translation [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Transliteration is the process of writing a word using the letters of another alphabet. This is done by identifying characters between two languages that sound the same, even if their visual appearance is completely different.

A good example of transliteration is when an Arabic phrase like القلم على الطاولة is spoken as “Al-qualam ‘alas at-taawila” in English. The phonetic clues help speakers of both languages know that the pen is on the table. In the art of global communications, it’s important to build bridges where and how we can.

To explore the musical equivalent of transliteration, one might ask what it means to consider the language of music as being derived from multiple alphabets. Is it possible to create a piece that isn’t really musical, yet retains the phonetic properties of sound from which music is made? Can a new language be assembled from components that have no basis in structure? How might we cultivate a musical phrase from non-musical origins?

(We at Suss Müsik ask a lot of questions. We are highly curious).

For this insane piece, Suss Müsik created an alphabet of noises using a prepared electric guitar played with homemade mallets, wooden blocks and a hollow metal tube. A rhythm began to emerge to create the first phrase. We then destroyed the rhythm through a process of declension, creating a sort of consonantal cluster before the original rhythm returns.

The result is something like hearing a Captain Beefheart riff crossed with Fred Frith’s guitar experiments after a visit with the dentist. It’s messy, chaotic, amateurish and probably awful, but we had fun doing it.

The piece is titled Metamorphoo, which is a transliteration of the Greek word μεταμόρφωση meaning “transformation.” The image is an old sheet of acrylic Letraset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *