the radio

steve roden / in be tween noise
cd in digipak
edition: 1st: 1000, 2nd: 400

  1. the radio

original notes from the 1999 CD release:

“the radio was originally commissioned for the 1996 soundculture festival in san francisco.  the piece was created in response to the idea of composing a piece specifically for radio transmission that would have as as its main sound sources the actual sounds of a radio.

 i used the following radio transmission sounds:
1.5 seconds of choral music under static
5 seconds of short-wave radio static captured on cassette in japan 1994
8 seconds of talking with random fading in and out
8 seconds of talking under static with random fading in and out
2 seconds of birds beneath static

i also used my grandfather’s old toshiba transistor radio as an acoustic object/instrument. this radio was always with him, often held to his ear, listening to baseball games while sitting on the couch. 

i used the following acoustic sounds:
bowing the tiny battery cables with a violin bow
clicking the on / off switch
turning the tuning knob turning back and forth
plucking the battery holder spring
striking the radio speaker screen against a microphone

all of these sounds were fragmented, looped, and multi-tracked. in some cases the pitch was modified, but no other manipulations occurred. what you are hearing is essentially the original sounds taken out of their original contexts, and in some cases (largely with the acoustic sounds) magnified.

the only non-radio generated element is my own voice. for awhile, i have been exploring the use of rigid spacing systems to change the sound of english text. for example: when a space is added after every three letters, the phrase ‘the radio is brown’ becomes ‘the rad ioi sbr own’. i am interested in the sound patterns that these kinds of spaces can create – while still essentially saying the same thing. my interest is to re-direct the listener away from the tradional intentions and meanings of words to a more poetic and abstract kind of listening… text as sound. the ‘libretto’ is based upon a poem i wrote in 1991 called, fittingly, “the radio”.

these notes are only an explanation of my inspirations and compositional ideas. they are not an explanation of the finished product, and they should not tell you what to “look for”. this work is simply a sound work and it is my hope that it can be experienced as such – where your experience with it, should be the only vehicle towards meaning. i am also interested in how this work will exist as both a radio piece, and now a cd, as portable sound object to be heard in people’s homes, cars, walk-mans, and other private listening spaces or devices. it is a quiet work, offering an intimate listening activity.”