Sound is another dimension and extension of electronic literature where meaning resonates between harmonies of the spoken word, music, and text. Sounds provide tone, rhythym, meter, and tension and are an integral part of meaning in electronic literature. Unlike spoken poetry readings, the sounds blended into electronic literature are not a mere repetition of the words on the screen but form separate harmonies or themes to create moods or different words than the text to encourage different interpretations. Many of these sound works are experimental and represent promising avenues for e-poets to further explore.
Robert Kendall's Faith: is a kinetic poem that shakes out its meaning. He correlates each movement of the text with a different sound. Go through the poem with music and without music.What is the difference? How do the words change character when you add music?
Serge Bouchardon's Loss of Grasp overlays messages with written text. In one scene, we see the words "I couldn't say anything coherent" as the narrator sees a perfect woman. Mousing over the choices of opening lines, we hear completely different opening lines. How does the text correlate and work with the voiceovers?
Jim Andrew's Nio incorporates jazz notes and tunes with beautifully rendered moving letters. As we choose which sounds to listen to, we create a synthesized jam session. Andrews says of Nio, "Sound poetry is a way into things that cannot be said in words but sometimes need saying. Written words and sentences do not have easy access to the primal or the harmonic/dissonant reveries of pure sound or the meaningful repetition, variance, trance, and pattern of the drum." This makes associations that cannot be translated into pure text but rely on the relationships between text and sound, between text and imagery.
Exercise: On Your Own
Do basically the same thing as for images, only add a step. After arranging pages, images and connections, play sounds. (You can download sounds from http://www.flashkit.com). Have one light and happy, one dark and thrummy, etc.
Where do the sounds "belong?" talk about the positioning of sound. We don't hear all sounds emanating from the same place at once--the keyboard cicking comes from the keyboard, the rushing of cars comes from out of the window, etc...
How do different sounds change the character of the overall piece? How do they augment, contrast, undercut, support, etc.
Try Jason Nelson's Song-Like Tutorial for Flash.
This provides a navigation bar where readers can select the sound that they want by selecting an icon for that sound and placing it on the image to play the sound. You can try the sample and download the Flash. Jason Nelson also includes a commentary on these in English. You can work without the commentary, but note that you either have to be familiar with Flash or work with someone who is.
Experiment: On Your Own
Do the same experiments as in links, but add a sound cue to each text or image. Then "play" your creation with someone else--sing your assigned sound when the reader comes to that text or image.
Exchange: Share Your Creations
Share your work in person
Take a few readers on a personal tour of your creations. Play different sounds at each node. Ask them how they feel nodes change with the changing sounds.
Get a bigger audience for a group reading (Exhibit your work at a local poetry slam, an art festival, an open mike. Or create an "elit fair" to compete with your local science fair and have everyone show off their pieces).
Share your work online
Create a video of your work and show the same text or image with different sounds
Render your creation to be read on a computer (use any tool you can).
We'd love to show your work--either send it or send a URL for your work here to be a part of this site.