I Am Sitting In A Room, Alvin Lucier, 1970
“I Am Sitting In A Room”
For voice and electromagnetic tape (1970).
One of Lucier’s most important and best-known works is “I Am Sitting In A Room” (1970), in which Lucier records himself narrating a text, and then plays the recording back into the room, re-recording it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated. Since all rooms have a characteristic resonance (e.g., between a large hall and a small room), the effect is that certain frequencies are gradually emphasised as they resonate in the room, until eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself. The recited text describes this process in action.
One microphone, two tape recorders, amplifier and one loud speaker.
Choose a room the musical qualities of which you would like to evoke.
Attach the microphone to the input of tape recorder #1.
To the output of tape recorder #2 attach the amplifier and loud speaker.
Use the text or any other text of any length:
“I am sitting in room, different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice, and I am going to play it back into the room, again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any resemblance of my speech, perhaps with the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.”
Record your voice on tape through the microphone attached to tape recorder #1. Rewind the tape to the beginning, transfer it to tape recorder #2, play it back into the room through the loudspeaker and record a second generation of the original recorded statement through the microphone attached to tape recorder #1. Rewind the second generation to it’s beginning and splice it into the end of the original recorded statement on tape recorder #2. Play the second generation only back into the room through the loudspeaker and record a third generation of the original recorded statement through the microphone attached to tape recorder #1.