University College of Opera

ALEX NOWITZ 50% research seminar - "What I’m singing is poorly sung"

Alex Nowitz is a Doctoral Candidate at the University College of Opera since 1 September 2014. His doctoral project is "The Multivocal Practitioner: A Celebration of the Vocal Arts". Now it's time for his 50 % research seminar with title "What I’m singing is poorly sung".


"What I’m singing is poorly sung"

To leave the semantic aspect of a voice projecting words with intended meanings takes us into a space where the sound of the vocal (phoné) not only supersedes the word (logos), but rather yields an 'in-betweenness', an unknown territory whose agency might appear elusive and obscure. And yet, listening at and watching the production of vocal art utterances beyond semantic meaning, and its deconstructed counterparts afforded by computer manipulations, new territories of vocal art expression emerge claiming to bear their own idiosyncratic modes of meaning and expressivity. Severing the connection between human intention and utterance, a ghost-like space unfolds. The seminar performances reveal a multiplicity of vocal characters yielded by one voice apparatus. 

The seminar presents Alex Nowitz’s PhD “The Multivocal Practitioner: A Celebration of Vocal Arts”. It explores the voice in the realm of contemporary vocal arts, discussing notions such as 'extended', 'materiality', 'attack' and 'virtuosity'. 

Furthermore, the challenge of communicating the embodied practice of contemporary vocal art performance is addressed, something which becomes even more problematic when human-computer interaction (HCI, techné) comes into play and live electronics are applied by using gesture-controllers in order to alter the human voice and expand the vocal soundscapes through gestural and bodily vocabularies. 

The seminar experiments with different expositional formats, using case studies that provide perspectives on the potential of the contemporary vocal art performance voice. It will include video material, scores, live performance augmented by technology, as well as acoustic vocal performance. The experiment explores the interplay of these formats to provide an intensified space for attending to the human voice in its multivocal potentialities.


Rolf Hughes, Director of Artistic Research Practices, Experimental Architecture, Newcastle University, UK

Sten Sandell, Sound/Text/Image Real-Time Composer, piano, clavichord, organ, voice, electronics, Doctor of Philosophy In Fine Arts in Musical Performance and Interpretation 


Tone Åse, vocal performer, electronic musician, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technolog Trondheim

Pieter Verstraete, lecturer at Bilkent University at the department for Communication and Design Ankara, Honorary University Fellow at University of Exeter, Freelance journalist at Theatermaker/TM


"Untitled", for voice and strophonion

"Designing and Playing the Strophonion: Extending vocal art performance using a custom digital musical instrument"

"Extending Voices, Sampling the Other", a collaboration with AUDITIVVOKAL Dresden
(Password protected, use: Panache)

Find out more about Alex Nowitz doctoral project: "The Multivocal Practitioner: A Celebration of the Vocal Arts"

Read more about Alex Nowitz on our website: Alex Nowitz