Living in this modern, text driven world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that human communication probably began with the human voice. Communication from voice to voice in close proximity was the norm, not characters of text traversing the globe in an instant of time.
The ideas and materials of this work are taken from human voices I heard in the streets of Taipei, people who use their voices to sell products or services. A student from Northern China told me that when she was growing up, all of the children in her neighborhood had memorized the vocal calls of the local merchants and could associate each call in the street with a specific person and service rendered, a clear example of an early form of “branding.”
Untrained human voices are unaware of equal temperament systems and rhythmic meters, the hidden grids that normalize and restrain most modern musical experiences. Instead, pitches and rhythms constantly waver, never exactly repeat, and as a result, seem more closely linked to the natural world in all of its’ complexity and variation.
For me, the erhu, more than any other traditional Chinese instrument, most closely emulates the human voice, making it an ideal instrument to experiment with these materials.