This was one of the more difficult projects I have been presented with thus far in my compositional career. As an architectural studies student, I am combated with obstacles within the physical realm every day. With that, I must develop new ideas and approaches in order to make that problem unidentifiable to the masses. This idea is very similar when considering audible composition. The problems are very clear to most, but very few people possess the skills to present refined versions of those problems as successes.
For this project, I chose to read a poem that I’ve recently written titled “Consuming Agriculture.” The three audio tracks that I used are the spoken track, a track of white noise, and the experimental music I found on the Free Music Archives website (http://freemusicarchive.org/genre/piano/?sort=track_date_published&d=1&page=9). The name of the artist I used is Dora’li, and the song is titled “1” on the album Unreleased Tracks. The song is in the public domain, presumably with a CC0 license, as the bottom of the page says, “The Free Music Archive offers free downloads under Creative Commons and other licenses.”
That was creepy.
While reading the text “Future Ex Buys Pajamas”, I had imagined the tone of voice in my head to be an excited narration of a trip to Paris. Paris seemed mystical and high-end, and I realized the tone of the narration and the plot of the story unfolded together. I didn’t realize the full extent to which the tone of the words being spoken, played a role in painting a picture in my head as the story progressed. I only had this realization after hearing the audio recording and being completely taken aback by the monotonous voice and melancholy background music. The man’s voice sounds a bit muffled and a bit seductive. At first I thought he was just beginning the narration in this low monotonous voice, but then it just continued and I got a little bored.
Bresland's audio version of "Future Ex Buys Pajamas" was very different from the text version. Ignoring the minor content changes, the tone of voice was not the same as the one in my head. Bresland's tone was sort of eerie; it made the essay so suspenseful compared to the original. The ending of the audio essay seemed a little more conclusive as well, as the music trailed off, whereas in the text version, the essay just kind of ends abruptly. Overall, the audio version just feels more complete. It makes me wonder why audio essays/podcasts aren't more popular, but from experience, I've found that it takes longer to listen to essays/books/etc than it does to read, which is probably a big factor.
I read Future Ex Buys Pajamas before I listened to Future Ex Buys Pajamas and I think think this sequence of delving into the work is rather important. The first paragraph of the textual version leaves be believing that Bresland, if we are to believe that he is the narrator, is a highly ironic, cynical, but interesting man. In these first few sentences, I don't perceive anything markedly strange about our narrator, other than that he likely screams "American" or "tourist" to his fellow airplane passengers. In some sense, I empathize with his remarks about not understanding French, that everyone seems very French, and that he is in this unfamiliar part of the world. His observation of lingerie shops does not strike me in any obscure way. If you have ever walked into Victoria's Secret, you see this same sort of emotional response on the husband's/significant others of wives/femals who are dragging them around the mall or, those men who need a gift for that certain someone. No, that first moment that makes me go "hmm" is when he begins to show signs of unworthiness and confusion that he is somehow a victim.
Future Ex Buys Pajamas was an interesting enough short story. I didn't know, at first, what to expect from Bresland, as I've never encountered his work before. His trip, however morbid it begins, does not seem like it will be bad. He just seems very American.
When I first read the print version of Future Ex Buys Pajamas, the tone of the article was very lightheaded in my head. The author, John Bresland, seems to have an almost self-deprecating style of writing that seemed humorous, as he talked about exploring Paris wide-eyed, like Bambi.
The one thing that I found to be very apparent in translation between the two media was the obvious loss of meaning between certain aspects in each, respectively. From the text to the audio, there was an entire atmosphere created for the piece. I imagined a black and white effect over the world and imagined that the visit was taking place some odd decades in the past. A certain eeriness took control of the tone and what I originally considered to be a mildly romantic piece became creepy, comparative to a Shia Laboeuf - Disturbia. The final video described the making of a successful suspense scene, and numerous of those characteristics became more apparent when I listened to the audio piece again. Even just listening to the audio version had my attention, fully invested from the start to end. The text piece I merely scanned over in a quick 5 minute read. Audio adds a dimension of experience that is hard to compete with when black font on a white background is the opposition. A level of involvement is introduced, and with that comes attentiveness.
I initially read "Future Ex Buys Pajamas" as a strange journal entry written by an American overcome with culture shock in Paris. Therefore, when putting these texts together, I found elements like the slow, sexy jazz music that sounds almost as if it belongs in an 80's sitcom and the eerie, almost mysterious voice that sounds as if it is coming from a megaphone kind of off-putting. The audio version of this journal by John Bresland, in my opinion, does not match the text, meaning that the two seem almost like completely separate genres. However, I can say that I was very intrigued when I first heard Bresland speak through his words and remained in that state all the way to the end.
As we discussed in class, something that the aural medium does better than the visual/written is that it adds tone of voice. Especially in a technology based world now where we often communicate through text instead of voice, we sometimes worry that our tone will be lost. Emojis have helped us hint at tone of voice, like if you add a laughing emoji after it then it won't be taken as seriously if he didn't have that indication. So when I listened to "Future Ex Buys Pajamas" it gave the piece a tone of voice. I think most of us were surprised at the tone (which was achieved through tone of voice as well as the music that went along with it). But it also made me realize that it is an uncommon occurrence to have the opportunity to hear the author's tone while reading the piece.
I read John Bresland's piece differently than he did aloud. His rendition reminded me of a noir protagonist going recalling the events of the day. The ominous music and effects supplemented the atmosphere and the aesthetically aged recording of his voice. Bresland makes the story seem like it was set at a time much earlier than what I interpreted as present day. I'm curious what a visual representation of this story would look like.
Immediately I was shocked by the tone of the audio recording. When I originally read it, I read it in a matter-of-fact tone, but the audio version is much more ominous thanks to the gravely, deep sound of the speakers voice combined with the repetitive beat and melancholy trumpet sounds. With this difference in tone, I also notice specific details more. The specific imagery, like chickens, burning leaves, erotic glances, and black stockings, are emphasized by the silences the speaker leaves and the accent sounds that either overlapped or followed the words. Near the end when he says the paragraphs about being a victim of his own manhood, the lack of background sound makes the paragraph seem incredibly long even though it is just a small portion of the work. I got such a different sense of this work through the audio than through reading it. And I must say, I enjoyed listening to it much more. I was more engaged and intrigued by the story as a whole and almost concerned with what would happen next.
I was very surprised when I listened to the audio version of "Future Ex Buys Pajamas" because the tone that I had when reading the essay was vastly different from hearing it read aloud. First of all, the voice was much darker. It almost reminded me of a black-and-white film where they have a grainy, harsh narrator describing what characters are doing. When I was reading to myself, I found the piece to be deep and insightful when highlighting the differences between cultures and victimizing women for being too overexposed. When I listened to it though, I think he's trying to be more ironic, attempting to show that the fact that the narrator thinks that it is worrisome that women secretly find relief in pajamas and comforters is ridiculous. The narrator is so focused on his manhood that he can't recognize that women might find dressing in lingerie as freeing. I think that tone is an important aspect that radio can give us that text can't, or rather, it's more difficult to spot. I also thought it was effective that he added in music and put a filter over his voice to make it sound more muddled. It further shows how distance the speaker is from bottom issue in the story: that the speaker values his own beliefs over those that differ from him.
Reading Bresland's text was already attention-grabbing, but hearing the audio made a much larger impact. First of all, the addition of a non-linguistic, bluesy sound element gave the text is an intriguing atmosphere. But it wasn't so distracting that you couldn't focus; it complimented his words nicely.