Tag Archives: Sounds Upstairs

[sic] Music

Sounds Upstairs: The Music Department’s collection comes to life!

Sunday, February 1, 2015
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM


[sic] Music

Can words alone be music? Since the early 1900s, poets and composers alike have said YES. Call it sound poetry or text-sound, here is a concert of word sounds alone. Various performers – TEXT-NICIANS – will present pieces as solos, duets, trios and choral readings in this ear-opening experience.


4400 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Bringing together multiple departments from CLP-Main (Music, Film & Audio, Reference, Customer Services, JCEC, and Children’s), 10 library staff members will be performing in next month’s Sounds Upstairs concert under the direction of local composer David Mahler.

This concert will present music made with speech, not singing. Written by a variety of composers/poets, some pieces include instructions on how the performers are to interpret the verse. Each is very different from the next. Various inflections and cadences or lack thereof, and paying attention to the silences and spaces between words are a few of the techniques that will be used. Some pieces use parts of words, sounds, implied beats, or other nuances to produce unique effects. One piece has a choreographed element, using the space of the room and the direction of the sounds to illuminate a meaning. Another uses a piece of text as a basis for a round (like Row, Row, Row Your Boat).

In the words of one of the participants, this event can be summed up as “sound poetry, found poetry, round poetry.”


P.S. Some of the pieces will be recorded and broadcast from WQED FM. Stay tuned…

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Crankie? You Bet!

Crankie. That’s a word that describes Ellen Gozion. Oh sure, she sings with a translucent voice as she shares Appalachian songs, folk hymns, ballads and more, and spins spidery webs of 5-string banjo accompaniment around her lyrics, her tunes. Ellen’s enchanting performances include commentary. The listener steps into the setting of each song.

Ellen Gozion

Ellen Gozion

But is she crankie? Oh yes! Ellen’s revival of an ancient form of picture-story performance is called a crankie. It’s a panoramic scene, rolled up inside a box, then hand-cranked so that it scrolls across a viewing frame. A painted “powerpointless” presentation, the crankie illustrates the story Ellen tells in song.

Picture-story recitation in its earliest form involved the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Ancient forms of this practice in India, Indonesia, China, and Japan were carried to the Middle East and Europe. Eventually instrumental music and puppets augmented printed, painted, embroidered, or otherwise decorated narrative images. Mid-19th century advances in technology led to moving panoramas, which preceded cinema. A recent revival of interest in picture-story performance among artists, puppeteers and activists in the West will be represented at our next Music Department concert through Ellen’s  handmade crankies.

Join us Sunday afternoon at the Main Library for this month’s Sounds Upstairs concert. Ellen will sing and play, and tell us about her forays into the Music Department’s folk song collection to mine new/old material. She’ll also get crankie.

Sounds Upstairs: The Music Department’s Collection Comes to Life!
Sunday, November 3
3:30 — 4:30 PM
CLP – Main, International Poetry Room (second floor)


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