The Talking Bible: A Sound Art Intervention


In July 1964, the American actor Alexander Scourby (1913–85) read and recorded all 66 books of the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible (1611). It was the first complete acoustic capture of the text ever attempted. The original recording was commissioned by the American Foundation for the Blind, as part of their Talking Book series, and issued as five volumes of long-playing records (16⅔ rpm) in 1966.

Fifty years later, in 2016, I began a three-year project that aims to engage this enormous spoken text, creatively, in the third instalment of his The Aural Bible series. The series is the outcome of a collaborative partnership between the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales and the School of Art, Aberystwyth University.

In this 24-hour, open studio event, I processed the records’ sound – using a DJ technology, effects modulators, and computers – with a view to generating material for composition. During the event, visitors were able to hear the work in progress and talk with me about my intentions and processes.

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