Rae Diamond on the Musicality of Language

by Anca Szilagyi


As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Rae Diamond! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: The sound that accompanied your piece, “Three Songs,” added a new level of depth, such as when you used the phrase “perfection of silence,” while a note played in the background. Can you describe your creative process and how you combine words and sound in your work?

RD: Words, sound and music are intrinsically interrelated in my mind. I explore this inherent interrelation by speaking and singing words slowly and repeatedly until I lose all sense of their meaning. I also consider the roots of words and the sounds of those ancient words-within-the-word. In addition to adding nuances of meaning, roots of words interest me because older languages were overtly musical – lilting with song-like shifts of pitch. The English language has traveled far from its musical roots, and I harbor a deep curiosity about creating a new experience of musicality in our language. I hear this potential as percussive and angular rather than the soothing lullaby quality of Old English. I seek a musical language of matured beauty.

KG: What experience did you want to create for the Furnace audience in person and on the radio with your piece?

RD: I wanted to cast a benevolent spell of understanding over the audience by immersing them in a soundscape that expressed deeper layers of the many strands of thought that interlaced through the essay. I wanted the listeners to be initially surprised and then comforted by the world the words and sounds wove, so that when the piece ended the “normal” world of straight speaking without sonic augmentation would feel strange, like stepping on dry land after spending some hours on a boat.