5 video clips from G.O. No.5

Here are a few short highlights from Saturday’s opera.  A longer, more complete video of the opera can be seen on the G.O. No.5 video post.  See a text for you for Mathew Timmons’ beautiful transcription.

 

1. Howard St.

 

2. Hayes St.

 

3. Divisadero St. to Fell St.

 

4. Fell St.

 

5. John F. Kennedy Dr.

 


a text for you: Mathew Timmons’ transcription of G.O. No.5

[Wednesday morning we were thrilled to receive the below email from L.A.-based poet Mathew Timmons. In it, he includes his transcription of a 2hr 21min 6sec sound recording of Saturday's guerrilla opera. Timmons wrote the piece sometime between 2 and 7:30 am that morning, feeding his transcriber 30 min chunks of audio until the transcription was through.

The resulting text is in many ways a kind of remix of the recorded sound, superimposing (mashing up) polyvocal phonetic fragments, reorganizing sonic rhythms into visual text-beats (letters and words). We might also read it as a translation, or homophonic translation, as the transcriber sometimes mishears words, mistaking, say, "John Kennedy" for "non-entity".

Sparing an over-introduction of the piece, we'll drop off here and let Timmons and his Speech Scribe do the talking.

 

begin email:]

 

So I have this neato little software program called Mac Speech Scribe – you give it an audio file and it transcribes it to text – it’s not very good – tho supposedly if you train it to your voice it can get very very good – and its actually easy and sensible to train – but I’ve been non-training it – and so for your pleasure – G.O. No. 5 as a text transcript – maybe you could use this for the soundtext piece?

best
M

 

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Mathew Timmons
http://generalprojects.blogspot.com
http://insertpress.net
http://blancpress.com

 

[end email]


G.O. No.5 video

Above you’ll find video documentation of Guerrilla Opera 5, an unpurposing of the Bay to Breakers 12k foot race route.

For a libretto, we used text found along the way.

The opera was staged during the worldwide poetry event 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

YouTube’s video tag suggestions are “word”, “poem”, “area”, “california”, “turner”, “outdoor sports”, and “tourism”.

A 2hr 21min 6 sec sound recording of the opera is available for free download.

Score information and the invitation to perform can be found in our Guerrill Opera 5 post.


Guerrilla Opera 5

 

Dear friends,

After much deliberation over what to do or say during 100 Thousand Poets for Change, we decided to let the city speak for itself.  We invite you to sing with us tomorrow in our 5th opera!

 

the score:

1. This Saturday, just before 1:00 pm, meet at the intersection of Howard & Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco.

2. At exactly 1:00 pm, proceed on foot to Ocean Beach, singing text found en route.

 

Notes:

a. As always, you are invited to sing and act only as feels right in the moment–with no previous planning. Costuming is up to you.

b. Refer to the map above for the opera route.

c. On Saturday, see http://twitter.com/tomcomitta for updates on the opera’s location.

 

For more information on guerrilla operas see Open Source Guerrilla Opera and our documentation.

’til tomorrow–

 

Pianissimo!,

SF Guerrilla Opera


Spontaneous Miscellaneous

From time to time SF Guerrilla Opera will spontaneously share miscellaneous news. Here are our first three segments:

 

1. Guerrilla Opera as Culture Jamming:

SF Guerrilla Opera was mentioned today in a blog post published by A World Without Borders. The post, titled “Police State vs. Democracy:  Culture Jamming as Creative Resistance #OpBART“, discusses increased, and arguably illegal, policing during recent demonstrations in the United States. Examples given are the #OpBART demonstrations and the arrest of Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman while covering the 2008 Republican Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Halfway through the post the focus switches to “Culture Jamming“, citing SF Guerrilla Opera’s Canyouhearmenow? and Anonymous’ Tunak Tunak Ton dance as examples of the mode. A World Without Borders writes:

During OpBART 1, a group called the SF Guerilla Opera aided the operation, turning the platform into a stage to act out the scene: “Can you hear me now?” Their act engaged a playful artistic space to show what is happening to our rights. This type of stunt was a good example of culture jamming in a politicized scenario.

By turning the street into a theater, one has a chance to convey a message by changing the context, shaking up public perception. For example, what if a bunch of protesters with Anonymous masks engage in a creative performance in numerous BART stations at exactly the same time dancing the Tunak Tunak Tun. [sic] Non-confrontational and spontaneous artistic acts might change things enough in the moment to disarm the guarded defense of BART police. Such unexpected creative action opens up previously closed perception.

The post continues with further exploration of the dynamics of and possibilities enabled by Culture Jamming: “What would happen if the joy and celebration that activists bring to the space becomes contagious and commuters and even police join these actions outside of the fare gates and in the streets?”

 

2. Space Opera Takes to the Streets in L.A.

On July 30, 2011, Geneva Skeen and Mathew Timmons staged a “space opera” called The Saffron Green. After an extended overture at Los Angeles’ Human Resources, the 30-person opera moved to Chung King Road. The press release best explains this (guerrilla?) opera:

A Space Opera in three movements written for voice, walkie talkie, megaphone and radio composed by Geneva Skeen and Mathew Timmons (radio score by Garrick Hogg, Andrew Lessman and Max Mayer). Employing a minimal modular score The Saffron Green brings together multiple analog technologies to explore the concept of both an outer space opera and an opera in public space. Taking the structure of a space opera and bringing it to street level, The Saffron Green borrows liberally from sci-fi operatic soundscapes and matches it with protest chants from the “Arab Spring” revolts. The People Want to Topple, The People Want to Overthrow, The People Demand the Fall. The performance will extend throughout Chinatown, using Human Resources as a staging ground and as home base from 5:30-7:00 pm and culminating on, in and above Chung King Road performed by a group of roughly 30 people from 7:15-7:45 pm.

Although SF Guerrilla Opera was unable to attend, the documentation we’ve seen shows the opera was a success–sustained  durations of text- and sound-driven personal, interpersonal, and spatial discovery accompanied by playful dissonance and chance harmonies. Of note are the charged libretto–the repurposed protest chants from the Arab Spring–and the opera’s use of repetition + variation. This minimal method seems key to propelling and sustaining an open-form, public opera.

Timmons’ Vimeo page for the above video alludes to forthcoming opera footage, calling the video a “First Preview Cut…”  We will post that footage when it becomes available.

Recommended listening: The opera’s Radio Score (mp3).

 

3. Playing Punctuation

Another project from Los Angeles, Marya Alford‘s “Franny (and Zooey) for Piano Duet” is a sonic interpretation of punctuation found in two J.D. Salinger short stories. Alford introduces the piece on SoundCloud:

“Franny (and Zooey) for Piano Duet” is a work conceived as a performance of two pianists, one male and one female, performing a musical composition based on every element of punctuation in J.D. Salinger’s short stories, “Franny” and “Zooey”.

The composition consists of the artist’s transcription of the various punctuation from each line of “Franny” and “Zooey” to a blank page of manuscript paper. Each color designates a different type of punctuation in the story. For instance, pencil stands in for periods, orange for commas, green for question marks and so on. This system also designates each type of punctuation as a certain type of note (periods equal whole notes, commas equal quarter notes, apostrophes equal grace notes, colons and semi-colons equal dotted half notes, etc.) Marya Alford has been working with musician and pianist, Ron McBain to finalize the composition for piano duet. Phrasing and dynamics have been added to the piece and the music has been translated to readable musical notation. Please click here to listen to a short excerpt of the music.

Images of the score can be found on Alford’s website. Also on this page is a bit of information missing from the above text: It appears that Alford acknowledged the spatial, and therefore temporal, relation between punctuation by tracing the punctuation directly from the book onto manuscript paper. See the images below the title “Tracing”. Here we see the movement from “Tracing” to “Manuscript” to “Score”.

If you’re in L.A. this Tuesday, you can check out a live performance of the piece followed by literary readings. The Facebook invitation can be found here.

 

—————

That’s all for now. Check back soon for information concerning Guerrilla Opera #5 on October 26, our collaboration with 100 Thousand Poets for Change (finalizing the plans this weekend), and the Guerrilla Opera reading series.


Open Source Guerrilla Opera

A question was raised at a recent SF Guerrilla Opera planning meeting: What is “guerrilla opera”? While we have used the term for over eight months, we had yet to define its parameters. This post attempts just that, positioning guerrilla opera as a genre:

Poet Ryan Funk coined the term soon after our first performance. Though our first sCore gave no vocal direction apart from “only act as feels right in the moment”, at about 30 minutes into the 40-minute reading, people began to sing from the books before them–cook books, comic books, Shakespeare, etc. Once we decided to stage the same sCore–“40+ people read aloud for 40 minutes from books found in the bookstore”–without the permission of Borders Bookstore, it was clear that the form was going “guerrilla”.  This transition along with the musicality of our first performance and a cue from its title–A Night At The Opera With Hosni Mubarak Hosted By Dave Eggers–led to the equation guerrilla + opera.

Now after four guerrilla operas and two more in the make, we feel prepared for and in need of defining what we’re doing. Is it performance art? Is it protest? Perhaps it is both. But if we say it is both, then it is fundamentally neither. As SF Guerrilla Opera is comprised mostly of poets and prose writers, more appropriate go-to’s might be “contextual writing” or “contextual sound poetry”. Still, both terms lack substantial, explicit elements of dissent, theater, and the body. Perhaps guerrilla opera is no more than “guerrilla opera”.

What follows are definitions followed by links to further reading. We present this information not only to define, but to disclose in a manner similar to that of open source sharing. We invite you to build upon these ideas. We invite you to do better.

guerrilla opera (n): a sCore in motion

You can read “sCore” in a variety of ways: text-body hybrid, bad pun, post-Fluxus forget-me-not, bad pun, etc. We think of it as a bodily phenomenon: individual and collective bodies’ Cores joined to a textual sCore. Once the sCore is activated–set in motion–the guerrilla opera begins.

sCore (n): a set of textual guidelines that enable a simultaneity of poetic “saying” and social discovery while realigning personal, interpersonal, sPace-ial, and textual relationships

Here “poetic” is synonymous with “political” as well as any other intended or discovered saying. As for the “realignment”, it might help to think about this in terms of syntax–the realignment of the syntax of the body and its functions, the conceptual or literal syntax of the sung text, and the syntax of sPace. It is important to note that any good sCore, while tight, simple, and clear, must offer sPace for personal and group exploration and improvisation.

sPace (n): the location and duration of a guerrilla opera

Space and time are joined to highlight the four-dimensionality of guerrilla opera. If a singer writes during an opera, the writing occurs in sPace. If a singer openly dissents during an opera, the dissent occurs in sPace. The dissent also affects the text being sung.

LIBREtto (n): the text sung during a guerrilla opera

To date, text has been sung from the page or from memory. “Text” is free to be anything you can or cannot read and sing aloud. We must note the great difficulty of pinning down just what is the LIBREtto as it lives somewhere between that which is read by the eye, that which is sung by the voice, and that which is heard by the ear. Often these three do not equate. A singer may chose to read a prose text in traditional order–from beginning to end. The same text might be read out of order. It might be erased, remixed, misread, translated, mistranslated, etc.

The above bolded words are all variables that affect the dynamics of a guerrilla opera. Their relation is best expressed in the equation found above this post and in this guerrilla opera equation. It is important to note the relations they share with each other–that each of them are variables with elements dependent and independent of each other.

Here are some links to readings relevant to the development and practice of guerilla opera:

1. guerrilla by Wikipedia. A redirect to “guerrilla warfare”. If we find a better–and free–definition on the web, we’ll post it.

2. opera by Wikipedia.

3. guerrilla opera equation by Tom Comitta. For Christian Frock/Invisible Venue‘s Open Source project. Frock’s solicitation was an inspiration for this post.

4. soUNDreport: Canyouhearmenow? by Tom Comitta. A blog post disclosing the concerns of guerrilla opera and the dynamics of our fourth opera Canyouhearmenow?

5. SF Guerrilla Opera by SF Guerrilla Opera. Video documentation and sCore information of every guerrilla opera to date.

6. soUNDtangent: MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (Prozac for your AntiSec) by Tom Comitta. An invitation to perform in our third guerrilla opera. A good example of how we spread the word. We also use Twitter and Facebook.

7. A Night At The Opera With Hosni Mubarak Hosted By Dave Eggers by members of SF Guerrilla Opera. A book of transcriptions and other writings related to our first guerrilla opera. Free to download or for purchase in-print. Sold at cost value.

8. This is Jörg Heiser on Tino Sehgal by Jörg Heiser. Co-founder Tom Comitta was dancing in Sehgal’s dancing bruce and dan and other things (2000) while planning the first and second guerrilla operas.

9. Secondary Protest Strategies (for Ai Weiwei) by Christian Frock. An important text concerning protest and documentation in the digital age.

10. The Emancipated Spectator by Jacques Ranciere. If you “say” it without performing (enacting) it, do you really say it? SF Guerrilla Opera attempts to enact the ideas we promote.

11. Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960’s Art by Liz Kotz. A thorough introduction to the origins and practice of the Fluxus score, among other things.

12. Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space by Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand. A great introduction to poetry written for extra-literary contexts.

13. Provo: Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt by Richard Kempton. Suggested by Brian Ang.

14. The Poetry of Sound essay by Craig Dworkin. The most recent text on sound+poetry that we’ve read. Also check out The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound edited by Marjorie Perloff and Dworkin. Especially Steve McCaffery’s essay on the origin of the Lautgedicht (sound poem).

15. introduction to Conceptual Writing by Craig Dworkin. Though SF Guerrilla Opera grows bored bored of Conceptual Writing’s exclusionary rhetoric and fixations with (anti-)aesthetic progress, we value many of its texts and methodologies.

16. Guerrilla Opera in Boston. Almost nothing “guerrilla” about this opera company. The only thing that distinguishes this from other opera is that their productions are unconducted.

We will update the list as more information surfaces. Feel free to post any suggestions in the comment box below this post or send them to sfguerrillaopera@gmail.com.


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