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The piece is based upon the textual material that accompanied the box set of records that I had purchased for the CD project. It was written by Beth and Bill – two of the set’s previous owners. They lived in America. The pair were in possession of, and listened to the records, between October 1994 and November 1996, in two places: their home and what they refer to as ‘School House’.

The composition deals with the couple’s inventory of listening from 24 July to 15 November 1996. The chapters that they auditioned all derive from the Old Testament, and the major and minor prophets mostly; while the remainder refer to the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

The inventory lists the dates on which the records were played, the chapters, and the number and side of the record on which they could be found. The precise location of the chapter on the side is expressed as a schematic in inches measured in sixteenths from the perimeter of the disc; there are no track divisions. Some of the annotations are not decodable: for example, the ‘6’ that followed every date. ‘N’ indicates that the chapter they were listening to occurs at the beginning of the side.

The sonic material for the composition, like the content of Beth and Bill’s inventory, consists of Scourby’s introductory announcements at beginning of a records’ side regarding his and the set’s commissioner’s name, the version of Bible that he is reading, and the number of records a particular reading covered.

The sonic material also includes a digital recording of all the chapters that the couple had listened to during the period of the inventory – over two hours of material – compressed into 15 minutes by speeding up the source. This is the duration of one side of a 10-inch record (the same diameter as The Talking Bible discs) played at 33 rpm. The accelerated version was cut to one side of a vinyl record to facilitate manipulation on a DJ turntable. Samples from his process were incorporated into the composition. The samples, along with others derived from those parts of The Talking Bible that Beth and Bill had referred to, were stored and played on a digital sampler. Stylistically, the samples are sometimes fractured, incomplete, discontinuous, and segregated. The couple’s information about the biblical books, chapters, and so forth, is presented in the same order as

The 10-inch record was divided into 20 equal segments, corresponding to the number of different measures that Beth and Bill had written on the inventory to indicate where a particular passage of scripture was to be found on the radius of the record. Starting at the circumference of the 10-inch record and moving to the centre, a measure was assigned to each of the segments’ divisions. Liquid cement was deployed in order to create nodes or obstacles, at the intersections of the segments and the measures, sufficiently large to arbitrarily ‘bump’ the stylus to another part of the record’s surface on impact. The playable output of the 10-inch record was, thereafter, indeterminate.

Two different and variously modulated versions of the output were assigned to a pair of virtual DJ turntables. They contribute to the composition’s penultimate section, which is an improvised cadenza.

side 2, s-s–side, side, s-s–side 2, s-s–side, 3
side, s-s-s-s-s, sa-sa-sa sa-sa-sa sa-sa-sa, side, 4
sa–sa–sa–sa, sa-sa-side, sa-sa-side, side, 5
sa-sa-sa sa-sa-sa sa-sa-sa, side, sa-sa-side, sa-side-sa, sa-sa, side … 6
sa-sa-sa-sa-sa-sa-sa-sa-sa, side, side side-side, side
sa–sa–sa-sa, sa-sa-sa-sa-sa, side, 8

This-this-this-book, this-book, side, this-book, Proverbs, this-book, this-book, Proverbs this-book, this-book, complete, this-book, complete, this book, this-book, complete, Proverbs, this-book, complete, The Lam …, sa-sa-sa, complete, The Lam …, sa-sa-sa, side, 4

140, 148, chapter 6, chapter 14, chapter 22, chapter 30, chapter 7, chapter 3, chapter 3, chapter 11, chapter 19, chapter 28, chapter 36, chapter 45, chapter 53, chapter 2, chapter 10, chapter 18, chapter 26, chapter 34, chapter 42, chapter 50, chapter 1, chapter 9, chapter 17, chapter 25, chapter 1, chapter 9, chapter 4, chapter 13, chapter 4, chapter 2


Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

[This section is hyper-accelerated superimposition of the recordings listed under 'Biblical Reference']


Read, recorded, the book, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, recorded for the American, read by, the Kings James, the King James, the Holy Bi-, the Ho-Eccles, the Ho-Eccles, read-Eccl, read-Eccles, read-Eccl, recorded, read, recorded, recorded for the American Bible, read, recorded for the American Bible, read, recorded for the American Bible, read, recorded for the American Bible, recorded in the for Amer-Holy Bible Society, recorded in the Amer-Holy Bible Society, recorded in the Holy Bible Society, recorded in the Holy Bible Society, Alexander, the King Ja-, read-y, the King Ja-, read, the King Ja-, read, the King Ja-, read, the Ho-, Alexander, the Ho-, Alexander-stes, Alexander, read, the King James, the book, read, the King James, the book, Ecclesi-, read, re–re–re–re–re, re-the King, re-the King, re-the King, re-the King, Alexand-, Ale-read, read, Ale-read, read, Ale-read Al-read-King, Al-read-King, Al-, Al-, Al-, Al-, record-Al-, record-Al-, record-Al-, record-Al-, record-Al-, r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r

6 6, 6 6 , 6 6 ...

King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver

the bottom thereof of gold
the bottom thereof of gold

the midst thereof being paved with love

the bottom thereof of gold
the bottom thereof of gold

for the daughters of Jerusalem

behold king Solomon

the bottom thereof of gold
the bottom thereof of gold

with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals
and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

[This section is an accelerated superimposition of the recordings listed under 'Biblical Reference'.]

​Biblical Reference
Psalm 140, 148; Proverbs 6, 14, 22, 30; Ecclesiastes 7; Song of Solomon 3; Isaiah 3, 11, 19, 28, 36, 45, 53; Jeremiah 2, 10, 18, 26, 34, 42, 50; Ezekiel 1, 9, 17, 25; Daniel 1, 19; Hosea 5, 13; Amos 4; Micah 1; Nahum 2.


from The Biblical Record [album], released July 19, 2019


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and Emeritus Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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