'Your Call...' Music and text by Kevin Jones
The phone rings. She answers. It's one of those automated calls – a synthetic voice jabbering away. But this time it’s different. This time the voice seems to know things about her that it shouldn’t. Then there are more voices, and more voices and she finds herself plunged into a crowd of synthetic characters all vying for her attention, peppering her with questions and not always agreeing on just what it is they want to know. The synthetic voices may not make a lot of sense but they all seem to have an agenda of their own, if she can only figure out what that is.
One woman perpetually plugged into a digital world that is unraveling as she listens. This is the comically surreal world of ‘Your Call…’ a music theater work that uses technology to explore the rocky terrain of our relationship to that technology and the ways in which it is an ever more intimate – sometimes intrusive presence in our lives.
'Your Call...' grew out of work Kevin did as a part of the CreST (Creative Speech Technology) Network, a research project based at the University of York, UK. The CreST Network was a collaborative effort which brought together practitioners from science and the arts, all of whom work with the voice. Together they began exploring the intersections of art and science and the process of building a common language for working with voice technology.
This two year project culminated in 'Articulate,' the first ever concert of music for live and synthetic voices, presented at the Woodend Gallery, Scarborough U.K. in January of 2013. It was at this concert that the first bits of 'Your Call...' were performed.
Click HERE to listen to selections from 'Your Call...' recorded live at the 2014 Tête-à-Tête Festival, London.
Click the player to the right to watch excerpts from the 2015 London production.
Synthetic voice software for 'Your Call...' has been graciously provided by Cereproc Ltd., Edinburgh. Technical assistance has been provided by Bruce Balentine, Chief Scientist, EIG Labs, Zurich. Thanks go to Dr. Christopher Newell and Dr. Alistair Edwards, Directors of the CreST Network, and to William Brooks at the University of York.
Click HERE to view an album of photos from the 2015 London production.
Photos: Laural Turlton