Voice Lessons

Voice Lessons is an electronic, audio device that interrogates the popular myth that every musical instrument imitates the human voice. Touching the screen allows the participant to manipulate the visuals and vocalizations of the “voice teacher” as he recites vocal warm up exercises.

The piece resides in the space between a musical instrument and voice lesson. Move the touch point left, right, up, and down to explore the visual and auditory possibilities. Rapid high pitched loops occur while touching near the top of the screen while lower pitched longer loops are heard near the bottom.

The actor, also named John Keston, is the artist’s retired father who became a voice teacher after a long career on stage in plays, operas, and musicals with the Royal Shakespeare Company in his native country England and abroad.

Voice Lessons
32” interactive touch screen installation
2011

This documentation is from when Voice Lessons was installed at the MCAD Whittier Studios for a session of the graduate critique seminar in November, 2011.

<em>Voice Lessons</em>

The piece, developed in Max/MSP, granulates both sound and video as the viewer touches the screen while maintaining synchronization. The piece will be installed again for an open studio night on December 9, 2011 at the MCAD Whittier Studios, 2835 Harriet Avenue South, Minneapolis.

<em>Voice Lessons</em> Max/MSP patching window

The image above shows the main patch window for Voice Lessons. The X and Y coordinates of the touch-screen are translated into position, frequency, and grain width for the audio and video. When the screen is not being touched video without sound of the subject looking around the environment is played. I call this the idle mode and it serves to attract the viewer into interacting with the piece.

<em>Voice Lessons</em> grid

When the idle mode has been active for 1.5 seconds a new video and corresponding sound is randomly selected from a pool of five possibilities. Each video is a distinct performance of vocal exercises that explore a variety of vowels and consonants.