Poems of Rewi Alley

Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Burt, W. A. (2006). Poems of Rewi Alley. Sonic Gallery, CD :Move Records Studio, Melbourne Australia Asia Foundation.

Digital file not available. For access to the CD (audio files), please contact Michael Organ, Manager Repository Services: morgan@uow.edu.au.

Poems of Rewi Alley cd website with further information and composer's notes available here: home.vicnet.net.au/~aaf/rewicd.



Research Background
Based on a selection of nineteen poems from the collected works of Rewi Alley, a New Zealand poet who spent most of his life in China, this work was created for radio, and realised as a sound recording. The poems were read by an actor; then processed through a computer program, which analysed the voice and created harmonies in selected microtonal scales based on the voice harmonics.

Research Contribution
The works present a breakthrough in the field of text-setting. Using tunable, resonating filters in the program AudioMulch enabled the voice to trigger off very specific chords in many microtonal scales. Of the 19 poems, 17 are set in equal-tempered scales different from the normal 12-tone tuning. Each scale is carefully selected for its emotional qualities, and how these qualities will enhance the poem’s reading. The piece represents significant extensions of research in the fields of interactive composition (ala Chadabe), compositional linguistics (ala Gaburo) microtonal research (theorists such as Fokker, Darreg, McLaren, Wyschnegradsky and Wilson), and extraction of harmonic fields from the spectra of the voice itself.

Research Significance
The work represents part of the ongoing re-evaluation of Rewi Alley’s work, now embraced by a number of Antipodean composers (eg Philip Dadson, Jack Body). A grant from Arts Victoria assisted with the production of the work, and an Australia Council Grant obtained by the Australia-Asia Foundation assisted in publishing the work on the Foundation’s website. It has been broadcasted on numerous overseas radio stations. The CD is also available.