Much like advances in photography that allow us to watch flowers bloom and oranges decay in rapidly, time-lapse phonography allows us to experience large pieces of sound in a compressed amount of time. R. Luke DuBois' process involves capturing the sonic frequencies of his subjects and combining them all into one display of sound. While Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Schaeffer, and John Oswald (of Plunderphonics) decontextualized sounds, allowing them to be heard like never before; Dubois' technique decontextualizes the audience by demanding a wholly new approach towards listening.
R. Luke DuBois' Billboard is a composite of all the Billboard #1 Hits from 1958-2000.
DuBois analyzed all 857 songs digitally, and created a "spectral average" a sonic summation of all frequencies in the song for each one. He then allocated each song 1 second for each week it was #1 on the charts. The resultant 37-minute-long piece contains beautiful washes of sound, serving as a unique chronicle of the history of US pop charts and the songs' continually-changing longevity, tonality, and production.
DuBois applies this theory to two other classics - Books I and II of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier ("Clavier") and the entire soundtrack of Casablanca ("Time Goes By").
The enhanced CD offers a Quicktime version of the song, with text indicating which hit song is being processed at each moment.
"I didn't write this music, and I didn't curate this music. I'm just figuring out a way to present it for people to listen to."
-DuBois on NPR's Studio 360
"R. Luke Dubois could be a strange man. He could also be a genius."
"The most awesome thing we've heard of, ever. Time-lapse phonography. Yeah. We just learned how to turn the light off on our iPod." - Gothamist.com
"[Billboard] is the sound - or rather, the average sonority - of oft-fleeting fame."
-Time Out NY
About the Music
For the last couple of years I've been thinking a lot about musical time and the sonic memories we take with us after listening to a piece of music. The technique of phonography (the act of recording sound), allows us to not only disembody an acoustic event from its source, but also to take it into the timeless context of the recording, where we can consume it in any place, in any time, in public or private, over and over. This not only changes how we listen to music, but also radically increases the amount of listening we perform in our daily lives. I thought it might be interesting to try to find a way to compress sonic time, not simply by speeding it up, but by using statistical averaging of the sonic information in the sound in a way that preserves what I feel to be many of the cues that we need to appreciate musical detail.
Time-lapse phonography is the name for this technique, which collapses sounds into smaller frames of time than they originally lasted, much like a long-exposure photograph can compress a sequence of visual events into a single image. This process generates an overall impression of the sound fed into it, blurring and fusing its features into singular, sustained, and very rich tones. This record documents three pieces made using this technique, drawing on source material from the rich aural documentation of the 20th Century (the first century to really have such artifacts).
Billboard provides an overview of pop music history in the United States through time-lapse impressions of the 857 #1 hits to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1958 through the millennium. Clavier consists of 96 'moments' derived by compressing the preludes and fugues in the two books of "The Well-Tempered Clavier" of J. S. Bach. Finally, ...Time Goes By is a 10-minute sonic landscape drawing on one of the great pieces of 20th Century cinema, the 1942 film "Casablanca."
Hope you enjoy.
-R. Luke DuBois, New York City / February 2006
For more information on the composer, please visit the artist page for R. Luke Dubois.