In March 2020, as we were about to go into the first lockdown, I posted the following invitation on my website:
"Create some music with me.
I’ve been working on a series of pieces for the last couple months that involves asking people to send me recordings of them saying two words. For each piece, I run their recordings through a mathematical process that gradually transforms the first word into the second word.
My original plan was to ask people I know to send me recordings.
However, after conversations with my dear friend D. Edward Davis and my equally dear brother Tomas Gisby over the last few days, I’ve decided to throw the invite open: in these strange and uncertain times, let's create some new music together.
If you want to join in, here’s what you need to do:
Send me recordings of you saying two words. You get to choose what the words are: words that mean something to you, words you love the sound of, a two word phrase, connected words, unrelated words, words in different languages… it's a completely free choice.
The words don’t need to be of equal duration.
Recordings can be done on a laptop, phone, or whatever device you prefer. File format doesn’t matter. You can send the recordings to me via email or any appropriate social media platform.
Also, write a short explanation of why you’ve chosen these words. For me, the stories behind the choices are every bit as interesting at the words themselves."
The idea of asking people to send me words connects to my interest in ‘found’ objects - in terms of both material and mathematical processes. Whilst thinking about the impending lockdown, and how it wouldn’t be possible to see people, I also liked the idea of getting to spend lots of time listening to the voices of family, friends and strangers as I created the pieces from their recordings.
The name ‘RANU’ comes from Hebrew gematria - gematria being the practise of assigning numerical values to letters and words. ‘RANU’ has a value of 256, which is the number of steps in the process I’ve used to transform one word into the other.
'RANU', in Hebrew, means ‘they sang’.
RANU 1 features the words and stories sent to me by Sam Eastmond, Twila Bakker, Daykah, and Misha Penton.
Prior to the contribution from Daykah, I hadn't considered the idea of the words for one piece being recorded by two different people. Hearing their recordings inspired me to make this a feature of other pieces in the series. I thought about other pairings of voices that would be interesting: parent and child (I asked a friend of mine, Emma, if she and her daughter Freya would like to participate - which they did), and also siblings (my brother Tom and I have recorded a piece together).
Other than being run through the mathematical process, all the audio material is exactly as it was sent to me: no effects, no EQ, no compression.
The download includes a description and visual representation of the process, in PDF form.
- Steve Gisby
100% of all money from the RANU project will be donated to the following organisations:
- Water Aid - wateraid.org
- Parkinson’s - parkinsons.org.uk
- St. Francis Hospice Dublin - sfh.ie
- Pomoć Srpskoj Deci / Help Serbian Children - en.pomocsrpskojdeci.com