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La Materia Verbal - Antolog​í​a de la Poes​í​a Sonora Peruana

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about

La Materia Verbal - Antología de la Poesía Sonora Peruana
The Verbal Matter: An Anthology of Peruvian Sound Poetry

This compilation brings together 22 sound poems, including both pioneering and current pieces, and constitutes itself as the first great overview of sound poetry from Peru. It continues a cycle that began in 2009 with the appearance of a CD called Inventar la voz: Nuevas tradiciones orales [To Invent the Voice: New Oral Traditions] and was followed up in 2011 with another one called Irse de lengua [To Let It Slip], both of which contributed to articulate diverse manifestations of poetry that used technological means, also in the context of intense activity in the local scenes of experimental music and sound art that opened spaces for interdisciplinary dialogues.

What we know as sound poetry is the product of a technological revolution associated with the appearance of various means of recording, transmission and amplification of the voice. A long process that took shape in the 20th century, until it became a discipline, articulated as an international movement which, based on phonetic research, expanded into a universe of oral/vocal artistic practices as part of a new technological context.

The recordings gathered here comprise a time frame that goes from 1972 to 2021. We find poems that work with montage techniques, either because they explore simultaneity or juxtaposition, such as those by Mario Montalbetti, Frido Martín, Florentino Díaz, Carlos Estela, Luisa Fernanda Lindo, Macri Cáceres, Rodrigo Vera Cubas, Tilsa Otta, Giancarlo Huapaya/Omar Córdova, Virginia Benavides, Lisa Carrasco and Luis Alvarado. Others emphasize vocal/oral performance: we find the phonetic poems of Carlos Germán Belli and Eduardo Chirinos, as well as the concrete conceptual poems of Michael Prado, Sandra Suazo, Peru Saizprez, and the oral/guttural poem of Omar Aramayo. Finally, we find another group of pieces where the poem starts with the creation of a computational parameter or algorithm, as is the case with the pieces by Jorge Eduardo Eielson and Enrique Verástegui, eventually reaching the use of Artificial Intelligence as in the poems by Francisco Mariotti and Paola Torres Núñez del Prado.

The Verbal Matter: An Anthology of Peruvian Sound Poetry is part of a series produced by Buh Records for Centro del Sonido, a website set up as a digital archive of Peruvian experimental music and sound art. The compilation has been made by Luis Alvarado and is published in a limited edition of 300 copies in vinyl format. It includes extensive notes and visual documentation. Mastered by Alberto Cendra. Art by René Sánchez.

This project was awarded with funding from the Economic Stimuli program of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

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THE VERBAL MATTER
AN ANTHOLOGY OF PERUVIAN SOUND POETRY


It is difficult to imagine today's world without thinking about the influence that inventions such as the phonograph, the gramophone, the radio, the telephone or the microphone have exerted on the fields of culture, communications and human relations since their appearance in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Many of the activities that are part of our daily life originated in that auditory revolution and in those that came after: from the appearance of tape recorders and personal players, to the infinity of resources that the socialization of the digital revolution brought about. Today these technologies are available to anyone. We all carry a cell phone, a device that can record, reproduce, store and transmit sounds.

What we know as sound poetry is the product of that technological revolution. A long process that took shape in the 20th century, until it became a discipline, articulated as an international movement, which, based on phonetic research, expanded into a universe of oral/vocal artistic practices as part of a new technological context.

As a live and performative act, sound poetry has admitted multiple resources: accompaniment with video or dance, the use of live electronic techniques, multichannel systems, improvisation techniques, repetitions, mantras, solo or group actions, of simultaneous voices using samplers, loops, as well as texts, instructions or scores, among others.

We are going to refer here, however, only to what constitutes sound poetry as a recorded piece. And in that sense, what distinguishes many works of sound poetry is that they make use of editing. Sound poetry, like cinema or radio art, is an art of montage, juxtaposition, concatenation, sound planes, that uses many resources from concrete music as well as from various digital processing techniques. But sound poetry is also an art of recording: it is therefore a performance of the voice, alone or electronically processed, before a microphone and a before a recording device. Like the songs we hear on the radio or any streaming platform, sound poetry is stored as a phonogram.

Sound poetry also encompasses sound organization systems, from the design and control of parameters to complex computational processes with algorithms and Artificial Intelligence, working therefore in an area related to various methods of composition of contemporary or electronic music.

The Verbal Matter: An Anthology of Peruvian Sound Poetry is an album that continues a cycle that began in 2009 with the appearance of a CD called Inventar la voz: Nuevas tradiciones orales [To Invent the Voice: New Oral Traditions] and was followed up in 2011 with another one called Irse de lengua [To Let It Slip], both of which contributed to articulate diverse manifestations of poetry that used technological means, also in the context of intense activity in the local scenes of experimental music and sound art that opened spaces for interdisciplinary dialogues.

The present compilation brings together 22 sound poems, including both pioneering and current pieces, and constitutes itself as the first great overview of sound poetry from Peru. We find poems that work with montage techniques, either because they explore simultaneity or juxtaposition, such as those by Mario Montalbetti, Frido Martín, Florentino Díaz, Carlos Estela, Luisa Fernanda Lindo, Macri Cáceres, Rodrigo Vera Cubas, Tilsa Otta, Giancarlo Huapaya/Omar Córdova, Virginia Benavides, Lisa Carrasco and Luis Alvarado. Others emphasize vocal/oral performance: we find the phonetic poems of Carlos Germán Belli and Eduardo Chirinos, as well as the concrete conceptual poems of Michael Prado, Sandra Suazo, Peru Saizprez, and the oral/guttural poem of Omar Aramayo. Finally, we find another group of pieces, where the poem starts with the creation of a computational parameter or algorithm, as is the case with the pieces by Jorge Eduardo Eielson or Enrique Verástegui, eventually reaching the use of Artificial Intelligence as in the poems by Francisco Mariotti and Paola Torres Núñez del Prado.

It is important to mention that Peru is a country with a great oral tradition, especially in the Andean and Amazon regions. It is also a country with a great linguistic diversity, 47 languages, many of them spoken in indigenous communities with little population, and running the risk of disappearing. This makes the implementation and systematization of recording technologies essential, urgent for the creation of oral history or spoken word archives. There are several projects underway, but there also remains much to be done.

We can also find there a key to understand the process of sound poetry in our country, insofar as its origins, practice and development are related to how well established is an archive culture of our spoken word.

Going back in time, in 1892 the Peruvian poet Carlos Germán Amézaga published a poem called “The phonograph”, which was recorded with the first phonograph that arrived in Lima. There we could read these verses: “The heart does not preserve harmonies / As the cylinder does... / Its sorrows and joys are erased / Everything in the heart, everything goes away!” [“No guarda el corazón las armonías / Como el cilindro aquel los guardará…/ Bórranse sus pesares y alegrías / Todo en el corazón, todo se va!”]. The cylinder mentioned by Amézaga is the recording medium of the phonograph. The poet describes the power of the machine to record sound, which he opposes to to oblivion as a human condition.

The phonograph was undoubtedly an important tool for the development of ethnographic research and the preservation of oral tradition. In this sense, the great Peruvian writer, José María Arguedas, saw in the recording device and in radio broadcasting, important means for the preservation of folklore and endangered oral traditions. Arguedas has often been described as a man glued to a tape recorder, given his work as a compiler. Among the many recordings he made, in addition to Andean songs, there is a long and intense hymn poem of his authorship titled “Tupac Amaru kamaq taytanchisman” (“I sing to our father Tupac Amaru”) (1962), in Quechua and Spanish, published as a written poem, but also recorded in an oral version intended to be broadcast on radio, a medium that could potentially reach various remote villages on the mountains. In the poem Arguedas made a vindication of Andean culture, and established a communication between the chief god, son of the serpent, and the Andean people, in communion with their land, their animals, their landscape. "Listen to the vibration of my body" [Escucha la vibración de mi cuerpo], the poet is heard saying, perhaps seeking to reveal that spectrum of emotion which defines the orality of the poem. Due to its length, Arguedas took advantage of the recording machine to pause and then resume his declamation. If we listen carefully, we will be able to perceive the stop and start of the tape, and hear the renewed voice of Arguedas reappearing from time to time. The art of recording offers those possibilities.

Towards the mid-70s Jorge Eduardo Eielson defined as “audio-paintings” [audiopinturas] or “verbal structures” [estructuras verbales] a form of vocal poetry that consisted of pieces presented as schemes, permutations and rhythms, whose intonation qualities opened an interstice between poetry and music. They were unique vocal performances that were recorded on tape and that constitute the earliest antecedent of a form of sound poetry produced by a Peruvian poet.

The Verbal Matter is a sample of various moments in which Peruvian poetry has led to forms of oral/vocal art, based on an awareness of the poem as a way to start other chains of meaning in language. Sound poetry has been a way to bring the sounds of speech, the poet's own voice, to a stripped, dislocated area, where the poem emerges from that tension between sound and meaning. These are culminating moments or extreme moments, and therefore also insular moments, an inquiry into the border with that purely auditory dimension, mediated by new technological devices, where the poem takes shape in the air, is amplified and electrified.

credits

released October 26, 2022

Compiled, Liner Notes by Luis Alvarado
Mastered by Alberto Cendra Woodman at Garden Lab Audio
Translation and proofreading by Alonso Almenara
Design and layout by René Sánchez

BR158
buhrecords.bandcamp.com
2022
Lima-Perú

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Buh Records is an independent label based in Lima, Peru, focused in experimental music and new sounds. Run by Luis Alvarado.

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