Sound Poetry


 John Beaulieu

 CHANNEL is a sound poem about a mythical tribe that discovers and discusses a higher state of consciousness as they gradually moves into a collective hive mind. CHANNEL was composed for the 12th International Sound Poetry Festival in New York City held from April 11th-21st 1980. It was premiered on Tuesday April 15th at Washington Square Church.

 Performance Instructions

CHANNEL requires 2 Male Readers,  3 Female Readers, and a Timer and/or timing devices for performers such as an i-phone stopwatch.

The readers sit at a long table facing the audience. The male readers bookend the female readers.  Facing the table, the male reader on the far right is the number 1 reader. The female reader sitting next to him is the number 2 reader, and so on to the number 5 reader. Each performer has their part and scores ready to go. A candle is lit in front of each performer. The Timer, if a timer is used, takes a position in front of the readers, not disturbing the audiences view.  When the timer places the 00:00 timing card on a stand, the composition begins. Timing cards are placed every five seconds. If performers are using an i-phone type timing device they must all start their stop watches at the same time.

Each reader is given a Part with timing sequences, and instructions on what to say and when to say it.  Basic words are given and explained in their part. Each reader is directed to eight scores referenced within the part. They are

  1. Astonished Words:  The reader starts on any word sound that attracts them. The reader pronounces the word sound in an astonished way. The readers are a group and at the same time they are individually astonished with something and trying to say it.
  2. Chants: The reader starts on their number pronounces their chant in a clear direct rhythmic voice. The reader follows the arrows and the distance between arrows and moves along the line of the arrow at a moderate to moderately fast pace.
  3. Wild Words: Be Wild. Follow the lines as sounds or breaths. Allow the line and graphics to determine dynamics through visual feel. Get lost, find yourself, change dynamics as you move through the score as suggested by where you are at in the score.
  4. Call Response: Male reader (#5) communicates with the rest of the group with sound language. The group responds by repeating back the call. The call response written the part is open to improvisation. The intention is to communicate something exciting to the rest of the group. A discovery. This should be communicated in all sorts of dynamics from loud and direct to soft and caring.
  5. Sound Fugue:  Follow the score based on your number. Move at a moderate pace. The space between sounds is based on the distance between sounds in the score.
  6. Long Sounds:  Moderately soft to Moderately loud. Start with the letter sound and continue sounding it until you come to the next letter and in the same breath, if possible, allow the sound to change to the next letter sound. The distance between sounds represents time.
  7. Mouth Sounds: Make mouth sounds in a quick, erratic, and excited way.Breathing: First pick a vowel and pick a  graphic and allow your breath to rise and fall with the sound of the vowel pronounced within your breath — in a breathy way that just suggests the tonal quality of the vowel. Next as timed in the part just make breath sounds to the graphics.
  8. Call Response for Reader 5
  1.  Getting Attention E ka  ahhhhhhhhh  sume sume
  2.  Explaining something important: SA Kaaaaaaaaaa  ahhhhhhhh E pop! Pop! Uhhh       Da Nam ta Nam ta
  3.  Making The point: Voo seba      naku    zzzzz   —mouth click—    Sak Sak   mmmmmmmm –pop            lips 3 times – yk yk
  4.  Like a baby —- gooo gooo ga ga         ga    we wi we      tttttttttt
  5.  Like sex;—- ohhh!   Ummmmm    ummmmm     loud heavy breathing ahhhh   sooom    yuuuh
  6.  Crazy Talk:  sednuba   ka samm d ei  oooooooooooooooooooooh!   dap dap famp     sibob     sibob     ittle saz   saz     saz!