Oasis In Space – Found Sound Poetry and Video

        Reid Dickie

Trinidad!
And the big Mississippi
and the town Honolulu
and the lake Titicaca,
the Popocatepetl is not in Canada,
rather in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Yes, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet,
Nagasaki! Yokohama!
Nagasaki! Yokohama!

Snapshot 5 (10-11-2014 2-48 PM)So begins Ernst Toch‘s fanciful sound poem Geographical Fugue composed entirely of world place names. Toch was a prolific Austrian composer of classical music and film scores who endeavored to stretch the boundaries of music. He’s credited with singlehandedly inventing an idiom called Spoken Chorus which combines the spoken word and music creating a new form of expression. Geographical Fugue, written in 1930, caused a sensation when it was first performed and remains Toch’s most performed work even though he dismissed it as unimportant. Snapshot 1 (10-11-2014 2-44 PM)

The piece strictly follows the form of the fugue with four voices entering one at a time: tenor, alto, soprano, bass. The basic structure is that of the canon or round (Row, row, row your boat) resulting in unexpected rhythms and harmonies. Composers John Cage and Henry Cowell translated the poem from its original German.

Snapshot 2 (10-11-2014 2-45 PM)I combined Toch’s sound poetry with footage taken of the earth from the International Space Station and offered with annotations by NASA.

I found both the sound and vision at www.archive.org. Click any picture to watch my 3 minute video.

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Filed under 1930s, Guff, video art

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