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Composer creates a musical piece with the sounds of drawing and writing

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

What does the letter F sound like as it's being written? How about S? Experimental composer Leah Reid composed an entire musical work with the sounds of drawing and writing. It is called "Sk(etch)." Chris Hoff of "The World According To Sound" podcast has the story.

CHRIS HOFF: Leah Reid is a professor of music at the University of Virginia, and she composes pieces of musique concrete - or music made up of recorded sounds.

LEAH REID: I'm focusing on taking some of those everyday sounds - whether they're kitchen sounds, you know, writing on paper, the birds singing outside my window, cutting with scissors - and, you know, creating something new out of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEAH REID'S "SK(ETCH)")

REID: There are so many beautiful sounds that surround us in our everyday lives that if we take a moment to listen, we can really hear those beautiful subtleties and timbres, colors and intricacies.

HOFF: To compose this piece, Reid use highly sensitive microphones to capture the individual sounds of writing and drawing.

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: Here she is tearing up the drawing...

(SOUNDBITE OF PAPER TEARING)

HOFF: ...And cutting it with scissors.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCISSORS CUTTING PAPER

HOFF: She's sketching with a pencil...

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAWING)

HOFF: ...A marker.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAWING)

HOFF: Now she's writing on wood.

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: This is the sound of her writing a capital A...

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: ...P...

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: ...L...

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: ...Crossing three T's...

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: ...And dotting a few I's.

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: Here she spells plum...

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: ...Carpet...

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: ...And steak.

(SOUNDBITE OF WRITING)

HOFF: Using these meticulously recorded sounds, Reid composed "Sk(etch)." Let's listen to the first minute.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEAH REID'S "SK(ETCH)")

HOFF: That was an excerpt of "Sk(etch)," an experimental music composition by Leah Reid. She's currently working on a new piece of music all about taking a bubble bath.

For NPR News, I'm Chris Hoff. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chris Hoff

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