Skeptomenos


My song cycle SPEAK is about the ineffable. If I were forced to speak, this cycle would be my attempt to transcribe the sounds in my head, especially those connected to suppressed thoughts or instincts, unready to be shared with the public. Some of the sounds are tender, funny, and spontaneous, whereas others are scared, angry or confused; here lies their vocal interpretation, as I currently experience the world.

In Skeptοmenos (Σκεπτόμενος), the consonants are the protagonists of the unutterable. For no particular reason, I initially chose the fricative “s” and the stop plosives “k,” “p,” and “t.“ I soon realized that these consonants are used in the Greek word skeptomenos (σκεπτόμενος), which means “thinking” [man], being the male participle of the verb “think” (σκέπτομαι). In the participle, the nasal “n” can be paired with the “m,” therefore my musical and technical challenge became the transition from an environment of plosives and fricatives, to nasal consonants, the lateral “l,” and more. Vowels are always paired with consonants; in combination with other effects (inhalation, different degrees of mouth-opening, lip-pops, tongue rolls, vocal fry etc.), they assist plot development and facilitate seamless or antithetical transitions between consonant categories.

This whole piece can be seen as a dramatic, phonetic monologue with stream-of-consciousness elements, just like surrealist poetry. In the process, I borrow phonemes (ε, ρ, ο, ου), exclamatory words (popo!), decontextualized short phrases from the Greek language (πες το), or syllables inspired by Greek words, creating a phonetic “langage.” The langage of phonemes is reminiscent of the Greek language, but the syntax is not that of an actual language. The dissonance between thought and spoken word is amplified by rolled or sustained letters that don’t belong to the title Skeptomenos, usually held as high notes, frantically loud and continuous. The mysterious, disruptive whispers are unidentified voices in the performer’s head. The performer can pivot freely between drama and comedy, as they give into the beauty of their own sound, beyond the composer’s intention. The personalities of composer and performer meet at the subjective interpretation of expressive instructions and personal sense of narrative.

Performer: Carl Alexander (countertenor)