The word Dilato from Latin means to extend or expand. This word is stretched out over the six and a half minute length of the composition. More importantly, the voice, that of baritone Bruce Rameker, is extended or expanded with the use of a variety of electronic digital processes. The recording could and has been performed to similar effect live, and is not the bi-product of layered vocal samples, rather a single vocal line manipulated to expand and contract beyond what is naturally possible for the human voice.
The reason I take such pains to explain the difference here is that this piece was originally written for performance as a study in the electronic expansion of the voice.
This stems from research I was doing about a supposed problematic of disembodiment in electronic music performance, trying to distill exactly what it is that makes a performance embodied in the first place. With much discourse from underwhelmed audiences of laptop performances devoid of physical movement beyond the flick of a finger, and students of electronic music scratching their heads over how to bring back gesture, when gesture might be arbitrary, I attempted to find a contemporary definition of the term embodiment in a posthuman society. This led me to Katherine Hayles definition of embodiment in “How We Became Posthuman”, which allows room for cultural subjectivity in regards to an individuals feelings of embodiment, and draws a blurry line between inscription and incorporation; recordings being inscription and therefore disembodied and performances being incorporation and therefore embodied. This of course becomes all the more blurry when performance involves “recording” or sampling on the fly or even a delay line. My research concluded that all electronic music performance is embodied, using the voice illustratively to disregard a mind body duality in favor of a continuum.
In the end the piece has landed on a tape, inscribed, and disembodied from its origin. Yet somehow for me the sound rings as if traces of the body are left. As the natural voice peeks its way through detuned versions of itself, with a sigh of relief I can feel a body there breathing with the music. Perhaps this reveals the answer to my question of disembodiment in recording and performance both, in that in the true spirit of Posthumanism, the human body is just one body to be considered. The captured voice becomes a new body, or as Virginia Madsen and John Potts call it, a “voice-body”, which is just as valid. That is the beauty of the voice for me. It can illustrate a relationship to digital material that goes to the very core of our state of being human.