Scenes from Babel uses recordings of the human voice almost exclusively, exploring the sound material’s potential for the contrasting of a natural (but seemingly artificial), interior, oral space with an artificial (but seemingly natural), exterior, environmental space. The recordings are of the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1 – 9) in ten languages and I must thank Vlad Bogdanas, Graham Bushell, George Dennis, David Fanning, Alexis Guneratne, Chere Ko, Tomaš Kračmar, Mauricio Pauly and Tonje Sæbø for their voices. The contrast between interior and exterior spaces is also suggested by the contrast between the opening of the Old Testament, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’ and John 1:1, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ and linked by ‘the voice of many waters’ (Revelation 14:2). I do not wish to pass any judgement on this contrast, merely to observe its existence.
Scenes from Babel was composed at the University of Manchester’s NOVARS Research Centre for Electroacoustic Composition, Performance and Sound-Art in the winter of 2009 – 2010.