This project began with my interest in the relationship between the systems used to transcribe speech and music. Both musical notation and writing are ways of systemizing sound; when most of us read music or text, we "hear" what we are reading in our heads. I wondered what would happen to music and text if the systems used for transcribing them were reversed. What would music set to the cadence of a letter or a letter
structured like a piece of music sound like?
I chose to use Beethoven's music and writings because they highlight the importance of the internal "voice"; despite his deafness, he was still able to write a masterpiece. Beethoven wrote his 9th Symphony after he became deaf. He was traumatized by his hearing loss, and wrote many letters to friends and family describing his reactions to the gradual decay of his hearing.
This piece consists of two parts: the music and the letter.
The music is an excerpt from the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, rearranged to fit the structure of a letter Beethoven wrote to his brothers. Most people know this movement as "Ode to Joy".
The letter is an excerpt from a letter Beethoven wrote to his brothers, with the text rerranged to follow the musical structure of the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
The excerpt reads as follows:
If I at any time resolved to surmount all this, oh! how cruelly was I again repelled by the experience, sadder than ever, of my defective hearing!--and yet I found it impossible to say to others: Speak louder; shout! for I am deaf! Alas! how could I proclaim the deficiency of a sense which ought to have been more perfect with me than with other men,--a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, to an extent, indeed, that few of my profession ever enjoyed! Alas, I cannot do this! Forgive me therefore when you see me withdraw from you with
whom I would so gladly mingle. My misfortune is doubly severe from causing me to be misunderstood. No longer can I enjoy recreation in social intercourse, refined conversation, or mutual outpourings of thought. Completely isolated