ICM Final Project Proposal: Sing-Song


Title: Sing-Song

What it is: A visual and musical representation of the Trinidad and Tobago language.

How I became interested in it: When I moved to the U.S. 15 years ago there was limited opportunity to speak in my native tongue. I felt silly speaking in other than standard english thinking people would not care to engage if I sounded different. Trinidad and Tobago is a country whose formal language is English, which is a result of British rule. A former colony, the islands were inhabited by the Amerindians (the original inhabitants), Spanish, British, French and Dutch. The language of these inhabiters was mixed with that of the African slaves and East Indian indentured servants to form our unique language that is casually spoken throughout the islands. The language is also influenced by other settlers, including Syrians, Lebanese, and Chinese. It’s a multicultural society –  a characteristic that is certainly represented in our people and language. It’s something to embrace.

Wanting to actively embrace my culture, I used the language in an ICM sketch. The sketch prompted users to record themselves saying some vocabulary words. As I mulled over ways in which to continue with this language learning exercise, I decided to focus on the most unique aspect of the language – it’s rhythm. To hear a Trinidadian speak, is to hear a song being sung. The speech is often remarked for its “sing-song” intonation – a rising and falling inflection.

For my final project, I aim to celebrate the beautiful and unique sound of the language. To present the concept that no matter what your language, you are unique and your sound is indeed beautiful.

  1. Using a microphone, I want to record the sound of words from the Trinidad and Tobago vocabulary being spoken.
  2. Translate the rising/falling inflection of each word into a sketch
  3. and into music

To achieve these things, I will make use of the P5 sound and speech libraries. One possible way to achieve translating the recorded word into music is by using the P5 Convolver. It can emulate the sound of real physical spaces through a process called convolution. Convolution multiplies any audio input by an “impulse response” to simulate the dispersion of sound over time. The impulse response is generated from an audio file that you provide.

I want to also use this project as my PComp final. More physical components need to be incorporated to achieve this,

My audience: Anyone. It would be a playful experience to hear folks speaking words from my language and attempt to do so with the ‘Trini” accent. Though it might sound ‘strange’ to them, I want my audience to see and hear that this unknown foreign dialect can be beautiful.

InspirationAfter watching this comedy sketch, I was convinced that I needed to focus on the sing-song aspect of my speech. Here, Russell is accurately depicting the sing-song happy slang.

This carnival costume was created by Peter Minshall in 1987.  The Merry Monarch is a magnificent grinning gaudy skeleton with multi-coloured ribbon ribs and rainbow rasta locks. His movement is controlled by the masquerader.

The sketches produced by the sound of the word would ideally display vibrant colors. I was inspired by these images.

Questions for the class

  1. Do you think it’s abrupt to ask someone to pronounce a foreign word and record them saying it without first saying it to them?
  2. Is a queue card showing the details of pronunciation sufficient?
  3. How can I introduce the words & pronunciation prior to recording?
  4. I want to expand upon this project to use it for PComp as well. Do you think there is sufficient interaction with physical components to do so?

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