Write Now steven r. boyett's blog

7Apr/12Off

Audiobook as acapella

I was fascinated with certain sections of the audiobook of Elegy Beach because the narrator, J.D. Jackson, picked up on the rhythms, even while his interpretation was very different from my own. I've used a lot of spoken-word pieces in my Groovelectric dance-music series. They work really well over tribal, percussive tracks. I've used acapellas, movie dialog, poetry, etc. One mix, Body Slam, is devoted to slam poetry. So it's surprising that it took me this long to look at my own work as a resource for adding to mixes, especially since I tend to put some effort into writing in rhythm.

Since the latest Groovelectric mix, "Cave Paintings," was another tribal/percussive mix, I thought it would be fun to use something from the "vibe" section of the Elegy Beach audiobook. This is a kind of post-apocalyptic rave in which the narrative, at points, assumes the rhythms of the music at the event.

I copied out the audio sections I wanted to use and did some editing.  I finessed the phrasing to make it more on-beat. (It's not as if Mr. Jackson narrated with a metronome going.) Then I lowered the pitch a bit, for effect and because it works well with heavily percussive music.

I auditioned tracks until I found one that had a nice, dark flavor that was insistent but not too busy. I dropped a lot of other vocals throughout the mix -- gospel, chants, etc. I'm really happy with the result. It's funny, but after a decade of utilizing spoken-word pieces in mixes, it felt very different to use something of my own. It was fun.

You can play or download "Cave Paintings" below. The Elegy Beach section starts around the 31:30 mark. If you've read Elegy Beach, you might enjoy this, considering what's happening in the section of the novel that I used.

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Download "Cave Paintings" [01:13:28, 69MB]

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  1. Funnily enough, I did hear that bit but did my level best not to listen too hard because I still haven’t had a chance to read Elegy Beach yet. (I was doing my daily pages, and just kept my focus on the words I was writing.) Perhaps I’ll give it another listen after I’ve read it and know more about what comes before and after.

    • Hey, Sheila! You haven’t read Elegy Beach yet? I’m … I’m … gored, I tell you.

      There aren’t any spoilers in the section I used for the mix. (Though some subliminals of “Rosebud” would be fun, huh?)

      • This would have something to do with the fact that ‘getting my hands on it’ and ‘having enough money to buy it’ have yet to successfully coincide. I think I even tried to get a copy when Borders was going down, but couldn’t find one at any of the places I tried. The only book of yours I can find in the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library system is Treks Not Taken and, well, I’ve READ that one. (It’s how we met, isn’t it?)

        I’ve just added it to my swap.com want list (hey, it’s how I got my friend Toby’s CD, so you see what can happen) and I’ll let you know if I manage to snare a copy that way.


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