Sight Reading

The idea of reading music is taken literally in Sight Reading.

Members of Peckham Chamber Orchestra (PCO) sight read selected tweets from Kenneth Goldsmith’s Twitter account as music on site, at Goldsmiths, as a cited reference to Goldsmith’s philosophy on plagiarism and poetry. I, the founder, manager and conductor of PCO, lead the quintet by keeping a steady tempo.

This experiment reveals the relations between notations of text and music; language. The letters and symbols we see in the context of literature and music respectively transform “meaning” when read in this way. ABCDEFG are all playable pitches, the letter ‘h’ may become the playable pitch ‘b’ if the player speaks German. Hashtag ‘#’ becomes sharp ‘#’. The players navigate the text-music and respond to each others’ decisions – Sight Reading straddles the boundary between score-reading and improvisation.

The language surrounding Twitter’s command to ‘compose a tweet’ is taken literally in Sight Reading; the 130 character limit becomes phrasing, the text becomes sound, the repeated text of @Kenneth Goldsmith becomes a motif.

The performance was tweeted to Kenneth Goldsmith himself. As part of the Finale of Acts IX-V I performed a solo of the tweet correspondence between Goldsmith and myself on viola.


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