Brandon LaBelle - Over/Hear
  Year :   2003
  Location :   Italy
  Worktype :   Performance
  Materials:   -
  Info :   opening performance for Genius Loci, city wide art festival, Palermo

  Work Details  
  For the duration of 2002 I kept a diary of overheard conversations: I would sit in various public spaces, such as a café, or bus stop, and write down conversations other people were having. Attempting to write down what I heard, all I was able to capture were fragments, words found in a given place and amongst a given crowd. In compiling these fragments, I was struck not so much by what they revealed, but by what they concealed, for the portrait the conversations produce are confused by the greater noise of public spaces.Using these texts as source material, Over-Hear is structured to be performed on 4 pianos by 4 performers. Performers are instructed to play the notes of the piano as they correspond to letters in the text, from A to G. Reading over the texts, a note is played each time a corresponding letter is read. Through such a translation the work aims to stimulate a musical dialogue by creating a meeting point of the speaking crowd with the listening individual — to capture found sound, and turn this into a musical process.For the performance in Palermo, I further refined the score by creating individual voices: each performer was assigned only two letters, with the fourth only playing E. The 40-minute duration of the piece was broken into sections of roughly 10-minutes, though this was not structured by a stopwatch, but more by intuitive feeling. Performer 1 was instructed to play only the letter A for the first part, A and G for the second, and only G for the last, while Performer 2 played D for the first, B and D for the second, and only B for the last. Performer 3 played C and F for the first, C only for the second and F only for the third, while Performer 4 played E throughout. In general, the performers were instructed to “play as slowly as possible”, listening to each other’s playing so as to create a multi-voiced conversation, where one would respond to the other, etc.To further the work, I made recordings of the performers in 10-minute sections: I would record for 10-minutes, then playback this recording, while recording for another 10-minutes. This extended through the 40-minute performance, so by the end there was a kind of “composite”, intensifying the density of notes and “voices”. This recording process was amplified over a series of 8-speakers distributed around the perimeter of the space.