‘Three Shields’ is a sound piece exploring human voices, secluded and foreign to the human body. The piece takes form of an artistic research into how acoustic and mechanical means can produce sound reminiscent of the human voice.
The focal point of this piece and its associated artistic research lies within the transformation from the digital starting point of voice synthesis, to an acoustic medium that highlights the voice as an instrument with varying compositional and artistic expressions. I want to explore the possibilities of recontextualization of voice synthesis in a physical and visual setting, where the human body has been taken out of the equation and I instead rethink ways of portraying “the being behind the voice” physically.
‘Three Shields’ is a very different approach to the topic of voice synthesis compared to my former projects. The work consists of three specially designed brass gongs, each of which has mechanically activated mallets mounted, as well as an exciter that produces tones through the metal, all computer controlled with great accuracy.
The plates are prepared with the purpose of simulating the human formant spectrum, causing an almost humanlike quality to emerge from the metal, while still being able to change pitch, timbre and sonority of the overall sound. This will be obtained by hammering dents that resonate with certain frequencies, or cutting slits that break the large surface of the plate and amplify certain overtones.
The electrical controlled impact of the mallets against the brass makes it possible to create short and consonant bursts of sound, that help to define and to shape phonemes and words through the plates.
The exciter transforms the entire surface of the plate into a speaker that can produce a clear, powerfull and distinct sound. This combination of the exciter and the reverberating plate produces the fundamental expressions of the voice, creating dynamics in pitch and amplitude.
All parts of the instrument in combination will create a sonic shadow of the human voice, emerging from the metal.
Laurits Esben Jongejan is a Danish composer and sound artist. He has a master’s degree in electronic music from The Royal Academy of Music Denmark, DIEM. He works within the fields of installation art, electronic composition, video art and club music.
Technician: Mads Thomsen
Image: concept illustration of ‘Three Shields’