Cut ups are a very simple and interesting way of creating a new narrative out of something else. Sometimes these can make some sense, but other times the resulting item is in stark contrast to the original. This technique was first introduced in a 1920s dadaist manifesto, which produced these instructions:
“Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”
This method of producing poems and narratives by cutting up newspaper articles was the inspiration behind William S. Burroughs novels titled ‘The Nova Trilogy’ that are entire novels created using the cut up technique. This is an incredibly interesting concept, and has also been adapted for tape recording and music in general.
I was introduced to the works of Steve Reich in my last lecture, an example of which can be found here. Steve Reich is a legendary composer when it comes to experimental music, and I really enjoy his work. I believe that music is one of the most expressive art forms, and can be used to convey a vast range of feelings and emotions, something the Reich does extremely well in his musical compositions.
One of his pieces however, is very different to what most people would consider ‘music. The composition in question is called “It’s Gonna Rain” and is a cut up of a speech made by Pentecostal preacher, Brother Walter about the end of the world. This was one a great landmark piece of ‘process music’, a style of music that is based around a repeating series of notes that gradually phase into each other over time.
For our first task, we had to create our own 20 second cut up using interviews found on the internet. I chose an interview of David Cameron about immigrants claiming benefits. I took inspiration from Steve reich and attempted to produce a rhythmic style sound, but with the spontaneity of the original cut-up technique.
Here is the track I created:
And the original interview can be found here.