RECording recording

OK, folks. What follows here are forays into different kinds of audio material ("music" if you like) that make the act of recording an integral part of their composition. In simple terms, the following pieces make use of the sampling of existing recordings, the layering of sounds on top of each other (collage), or the editing of recorded material. Explanations accompany each piece (as if you had to be told that... ).

Ron Kuivila in Purgatory (4:15) (by Rob E. Cohen)
This piece was conceived and recorded while I was in attendance at Wesleyan University during the Spring semester of 2006. During this time, I had a class in recording and sound design taught by Ron Kuivila. Our midterm projects were inspired by a piece of writing by William Burroughs, wherein the author discusses creative and playful uses of tape recording technology as a means for generating art and entertainment. Professor Kuivila asked us to present a digitally recorded and edited piece of the types Burroughs suggested.

My piece involved three phases.
PHASE 1: Record a raunchy conversation with a friend. This involved the 2 of us improvising a dialogue largely centered on lines from a list of "dirty" phrases and words that I had compiled. After recording about 7 minutes of this verbal cesspool, I made the following edits. First, I lowered the pitch of the voices on the recording. Second, I raised the volume at the more lively points of the conversation. Third, I recorded the track to an audio CD with 10 minutes of leading silence.

PHASE 2: Play the obscene recording during Kuivila's class, and record the audio of the class on a concealed microphone. I had carefully scouted out the location beforehand and noticed rooms in the hallway outside of our class with computers in them. During class I left to "go to the bathroom," put my CD on the computer in the room nearest our door, cranked the speaker all the way up, and returned to class to set my mini disc recorder in action. 10 minutes later, loud low rumblings began intruding the air of the quiet lecture class. Kuivila closed the door to the hallway to block out the noise, only to be foiled by a friend of mine (whom I had told my plan before class) who left to "go to the bathroom" as an excuse to open the door. With the door open and the recording getting louder and more obnoxious, Kuivila was forced to stop lecturing to investigate. He detected the culprit in the computer room, silenced it, and resumed the lecture.

PHASE 3: Edit the recording of the lecture class to best capture the "intrusions." Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the vulgar content of my intruding conversation is lost on my mini disc recording of the class. I ended up editing the recording so as to capture as many of the intrusions as possible. In editing around my noisy punctuations, I made cuts in Kuivila's talking based on phrases and words that had comic or other effect.

The resulting 4 minutes and 15 seconds of audio consist of what Professor Kuivila described as a feeling of being in purgatory. Success!

More Fables of Faubus (5:39) (found recordings edited by Rob E. Cohen)
I constructed this audio document of segregation and Governor Orval Faubus' attempt to block the federally ordered integration of schools in Arkansas for an education class that I took during the summer of 2006. This audio collage consists of clips explaining segregation, clips relating to the Faubus fiasco, a clip of the mother of Melba Pattillo (one of the black children attending Little Rock Central High School under the "protection" of federal troops), clips of Thurgood Marshall, and a
recording of Charles Mingus' immortilizaiton of the Faubus affair in his composition Fables for Faubus (after which I named this collage).

Le Freak Out (3:56) (edited by Rob E. Cohen)
A day in the life of a Zappa fan who plays in a wedding band...

See If It Works (0:04) (by Rob E. Cohen)
me checking a microphone... it worked

Luke's Psycho Frenzy (1:36) (edited by Rob E. Cohen)
"The way I see it..." and the following music are the opening sounds on Frank Zappa's audio masterpiece, Lumpy Gravy. The kid talking over the music went to one of the pools I lifeguarded at during the summers of my college days. His lovely story was captured by the microphone in my cell phone. I used this piece of audio as an introduction to my senior thesis concert at Wesleyan.

America - Gun Land (1:47) (by eMC Dead Rabbit with Rob E. Cohen)
Dead Rabbit and I pieced together the audio samples of violence to serve up this explosive cocktail. While Dead Rabbit constructed the "music" track for the piece, I added a keyboard solo.

(Seriously, consider this your fair warning. Don't get offended, upset, or into trouble!)
America - Sex Land (2:27) (by eMC Dead Rabbit)
This song was made possible by audio samples taken from the pornography shared on the network at Wesleyan University in 2004.

Back to R.E.C.ordings

Back to