The Blind Man Barry D. Truax

The Blind Man is a realization of a poem by Norbert Ruebsaat that uses a reading and improvisation on the text by the writer as its basic source material. Additional environmental sound material from the World Soundscape Project Library is also used, sounds that are largely metallic: bells from the Salzburg Cathedral (with which the piece opens) and the Storkyrkan in Stockholm, and a series of locks and heavy doors from the vaults of the Vienna State Library. The poem is heard on three levels. First there is the original reading interspersed throughout the piece in five sections. Then there are rhythmic variations based on the author’s improvisation with the text. And finally, there are abstract sounds created through transformation of specific speech elements: sibilants, consonants, and vowels. The collaboration between composer and writer, coming shortly after their work on the longer piece, Love Songs, extends their interest in the continuum between language and sound, the border country where words become pure sounds and can change back again. As described by the author, “the music becomes the enactment of the text, a little play, a stage set up for it. And as we take out seats and the curtains part we are not surprised when, suddenly, the masks appear as words, when the masks are words, come out in the light, sounds and syllables dancing. Apart and together again. Language. A poem has come to visit. Behold the poem, it is pointing to / the blind man / over there.”

  • Year of composition: 1979
  • Genre: Electroacoustics
  • Format: Fixed media
  • Duration of the submitted work: 15:40
  • Publisher: Cambridge Street Publishing
  • Production: The Blind Man was commissioned by and realized in the analog studios of the G.M.E.B. in Bourges, France.
  • Premiere: November 16, 1979, Western Front Lodge (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  • Disc publication: The Blind Man is available on the Cambridge Street Records and Wergo CD Digital Soundscapes, CSR-CD 8701

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