About My Audio Recordings of Finnegans Wake   6 comments

In October 2010 I decided to read Finnegans Wake, as if I were sight-reading a piece of music, and to make audio recordings of this process.

So, on this blog you can listen to the 70 audio recordings I’ve made of Finnegans Wake. Generally each audio file lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

Because Finnegans Wake is written in a circular format, I did not begin on the first page. In fact, my first recording begins on page 83,  line 5. This was the page that the Finnegans Wake reading group were discussing when I joined them in Zurich back in October 2010. I have simply recored from this page onwards.

If you want to listen from page 3 of Finnegans Wake, then please start with the blog entry titled “Sir Tristram, voiler d’amores, fr’over the short sea,“. Then work through the audio recordings in the order of: January 2011; Feb 2011; October 2010; Nov 2010 and December 2010.

I hope this proves to be a useful resource for readers and scholars of Finnegans Wake.

If you are interested in this project’s background, please read on:

Initially, I planned to read Finnegans Wake in 65 days, hence the title of this blog. Finally it’s taken me up to Joyce’s birthday (2nd of February) in 2011 to finish my full recording.

Sight-reading FW reminds me of singing in Brigitte Hool’s  choir at the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland). Brigitte directed her choristers through scores such as Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion and Rossini’s Petite Masse Sollennelle, by working on a large scale, and by insisting that we discovered the form of a piece by singing straight through it. Often this meant that Brigitte stood beating measures while only the accompanist played at the start. But, gradually the choir discovered something they could sing into, from the sound of the music, from the patterns in the score. Of course, after this initial sketching we worked more closely on individual phrases, and even with the precise vowel sound to sing with a particular note. Gradually, we understood that this section worked like a canon; or that such a passage was constructed around a diminished 5th chord… Similarly, I wished to achieve an iterative understanding of Finnegans Wake, by my sight reading approach.

During my sight reading of Finnegans Wake, I’ve discovered that I can draw on an inner polyphony as an accompaniment. In reciting Joyce’s text, the speech patterns of many people suddenly come to mouth – often voices that I’d forgotten.  My Mother, my Grandmother, my Grandfather, my Grandfather doing impressions of how his Grandfather spoke in Yorkshire dialect (there’s a gramophone in every grave, as Joyce said); kids from the primary and secondary schools I attended, people I studied, sang and worked with in the UK and in Switzerland… and also my-selves aged from 3 to 33. Put together, this has been quite a choir to discover.

I plan on close reading this text, after my initial déchiffrage (sight-reading). However, I believe that sound is often sense in Finnegan’s Wake.

Posted January 31, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet

6 responses to “About My Audio Recordings of Finnegans Wake

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  1. Iamlostinthishollowgrabicalghemutterofshadder!

  2. IguessacolhabsaydIlubicaltoo-solubicaltoo!

  3. Where does one find the recodings on the website–nothing I try gives them

  4. I find your project interesting but it seems a bit odd you’ve not actually read the first page. Perhaps, and I hope I am, I just cannot find it… thank you then.

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