The title of Speaker Spit refers to short, interrupted sine waves within electronics that cause the speakers themselves to emit ‘pops’ and crackles, interrupting the acoustic instruments and tape playback. We’re not hearing the sine wave but rather the effect of the sine wave on the speaker’s mechanics turning the speaker itself into an acoustic element; thus giving these objects an active role rather than accepting them as a passive (playback) tool. Usually this treatment is avoided and seen as a mistake but in this piece it functions to address the physical mechanics of the speaker, of its own body, and demanding it to become more. To add to this, the percussionists are playing custom made “speaker-instruments:” subwoofer speaker cones transformed into an open air (and in a sense, large contact) microphone. This configuration allows the percussionist to physically perform low resonant tones and high washes of live filtered noise not possible outside this setup, with the hope to merge electronic and acoustic instruments into one composite organism, dependent on this merging to become more than just an extension of itself.
The live processing portion of the work is that of rapid panning of the live acoustic instruments between two stereo speakers. This panning reaches audio rates and thus from this rapid oscillation causes its own square wave-like tone: the electronics sounds blooming from the acoustic in a symbiotic, intertwined creature like lichen.
Duration: 11' 32"
Instrumentation: large ensemble, conductor, tape, and live processing
Commissioned by the Delz Foundation
Performed by Collegium Novum Zürich