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Blonk, Jaap: Traces of Speech (Kontrans)

Sound poet Jaap Blonk extended the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) into BLIPAX (Blonk's IPA Extended), developing scores as drawing which are converted into electronic sound through audio software and then back to text through OCR to create these unusual spoken audio pieces.

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product information:

UPC: 8713896903522

Label: Kontrans
Catalog ID: Kontrans 760
Squidco Product Code: 21869

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: Netherlands
Packaging: Cardboard sleeve
Recorded in Arnhem, Netherlands, July 2012.


Jaap Blonk-voice, composer, performer

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Artist Biographies:

"Jaap Blonk (born 1953 in Woerden, Holland) is a self-taught composer, performer and poet.He went to university for mathematics and musicology but did not finish those studies.In the late 1970s he took up saxophone and started to compose music.A few years later he discovered his potential as a vocal performer, at first in reciting poetry and later on in improvisations and his own compositions. For almost two decades the voice was his main means for the discovery and development of new sounds.From around the year 2000 on Blonk started work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending the field to include pure sound synthesis as well.He took a year off of performing in 2006. As a result, his renewed interest in mathematics made him start a research of the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual work and poetry.

As a vocalist, Jaap Blonk is unique for his powerful stage presence and almost childlike freedom in improvisation, combined with a keen grasp of structure. He has performed around the world, on all continents. With the use of live electronics the scope and range of his concerts has acquired a considerable extension.

Besides working as a soloist, he collaborated with many musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary and improvised music, like Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and the Ebony Band. He premiered several compositions by the German composer Carola Bauckholt, including a piece for voice and orchestra. A solo voice piece was commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage. On several occasions he collaborated with visual computer artist Golan Levin, for the Ars Electronica Festival.

Blonk's work for radio and television includes several commissioned radio plays.He also makes larger-scale drawings of his scores, as well as visual poetry, which is being exhibited.

He has his own record label, Kontrans, featuring a total of 25 releases so far. Other Blonk recordings appeared on various labels, such as Staalplaat, Basta, VICTO, Ecstatic Peace, Monotype Records, Terp and Elegua Records.His book/CD 'Traces of Speech' was published in 2012 by Hybriden-Verlag, Berlin. Forthcoming is a sequel with the title "Traces of Cookery".A comprehensive collection of his sound poetry came out as a book with 2 CDs in 2013, entitled "KLINKT"."

-Jaap Blonk Website (

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track listing:

1. Gossip of Truth 6:08

2. True Secret 8:32

3. Secret Impediment 7:33

4. Impeded Pretext 8:56

5. Proof of Gossip 6:54

6. Pleading Pretext 11:02

7. Plea for Proof 9:41
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Around 1985 I started to write sound poetry. At first I used the common Latin alphabet, with different pronunciations for the individual poems (Dutch, German, French, English). But after a few years I found this too much of a limitation and learned the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), making it possible to use different pronunciations of the same letter in one text. So I could create poems with more variety of sound color.

However, only too soon I found out that the IPA did not have symbols for many of the voice sounds I used to make, and started to extend it with signs of my own invention. This developed into the - ever unfinished - system I am using now for functional sound poetry scores: BLIPAX (Blonk's IPA Extended).

It turned out that many of the symbols of BLIPAX were not contented with an existence as dead letters, but took on a life of their own. They kept changing their form, as it were, under my hands as I was trying to notate a score. It resulted in drawings that live somewhere halfway between sound poetry and visual poetry: Traces of Speech.

The basic idea for this book/CD package was: firstly, converting the drawings into electronic sound by importing them (mostly as raw data) into audio software, and secondly, converting them into texts (in English and German) through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Each of the three forms (drawings, sound and texts) were then subjected to further treatment.

In the case of the texts I got, the greatest challenge in reciting them was the interpretation of the multitude of punctuation signs. I tried to create some variation by doing it in radically different ways. The book has seven 'chapters'. Each has its own theme, and each begins with a handmade drawing, followed by some digital treatments of it, and ending with two versions of the OCR texts created from it. On the CD I combined electronic sounds and text recitations of the different themes into seven sound environments. Here I refrained from pursuing any personal expression."-Jaap Blonk, Kontrans

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Electro-Acoustic Improv
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Solo Artist Recordings
Blonk, Jaap

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