Rush to Excuse

Rush to Excuse

Rush to Excuse applies granular synthesis to a 47″ sample of Rush Limbaugh’s radio oratory. There are two processes involved. The first cuts Mr. Limbaugh’s voice into hundreds of samples of equal length. These samples, or grains, are then analyzed to determine the average pitch for each. The second process cuts the same clip into unequal pieces based on silences, or pauses in speech. I mix the output of these processes together, repeating the first process several times with longer and longer grains. Content and pitch material are then juxtaposed.

In the sample used, Mr. Limbaugh excuses torture at American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and mocks the Geneva Convention. He describes a photograph of a naked prisoner being threatened with a dog, and justifies it by claiming there’s no actual assault, the prisoner is merely being frightened. As it happens, a subsequent photograph shows the actual attack. On being apprised of this later in the program, Mr. Limbaugh offered a correction and a weak apology.

I use pundits as source material for text-sound composition both to explore the sounds of the human voice and to highlight the words and meanings in political speech. It’s harrowing work sometimes, but somebody’s got to do it.

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