4/7/17 – Alvin Lucier “I Am Sitting in a Room” (1969)

I am Sitting in a Room is an experimental Ambient/Drone/Spoken Word album that is not only consistent of just one “song”, but one vocal sample. Alvin Lucier states the following:

“I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have”

And records it. Then he plays the recording and records that as well. Then he plays THAT recording and records it as well, repeating ad nauseam. Each time the quality of the speech is diminished further and further until you cannot understand it, the total recording being about 45 minutes. It’s such a simple concept but it is utterly fascinating to listen to. The language he is speaking is slowly being eroded as the resonance frequencies take over, and I find myself always straining to hear his words, even when I probably couldn’t make them out if they were taken out of context. Later on in the album it’s just impossible, and the piece has completely transformed into an ethereal and alien landscape of pitches and tones.

I think like a lot of experimental pieces, I can only say so much about it – it’s more about the experience you have than anything else. So if you are a music fan that isn’t even interested in the experimental genre – check this out anyway. It’s an interesting piece about music and sound as a concept.