"For this piece I made an experimental audiobook with dialogue structured around bespoke field recordings, foley and archival audio. My inspiration was to create a composition that both vocalized and commented on the text, using one voice to “gnaw” on another, just like the central image of the section in which Count Ugolino gnaws on the head of Archbishop Ruggieri. During research, I became interested in vocal fragments that suggest the inability to speak, and these sounds also became part of the work.
"I built the background with the following components: contact mic recordings of wire fences near Spittal of Glenshee in Scotland; stereo recordings of winds in the Caledonian forest in Scotland; ice on Lake Michigan ice near Chicago during the “polar vortex” freeze of 2019; a summer soundscape at Death’s Door Bluff in Wisconsin; maggots eating the brain of a dead goat in Ireland near Kilfinane; Canyon recordings at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois; and archival audio of breaks during the congressional Iran-Contra hearings, 1987.
"The performers in the piece are Cristina Marras, who read the original Italian text in the first section, Prof. William West of Northwestern University who commented on a translation of the original text by Allen Mandelbaum, Lawrence Grimm, who performed Ugolino’s monologue based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s translation, and Ele Matelan, who performed all the foley work. I made the field recordings myself, and did the mixing and mastering."