20 September, 2020

Songwriter Callum Lee talks about the cut-up technique

The cut-up technique is an aleatory literary technique, aleatory meaning creation by chance, a dice roll. My fascination with this idea came about through music created by sampling, a similar creative technique in which the artist takes pre-existing audio from a song then manipulates it to create something new. As I began to explore this technique in my own music-making, I was surprised, the collaboration between the material, the old dusty vinyl, the mp3 and yourself, feels like a living conversation.

To honour all the stories submitted through the Audience Song project and as part of SongConversations, I decided to showcase the cut-up technique as a method to generate ideas or potential song lyrics using only words from these exact stories. I’ve decided to present these stories as a collaged image, each unique voice is encoded by a specific type font, and as the prose evolves, a single narrative may form from many.

A big bang, creation through chance?

Amongst uncertainty, chaos, a universe of potential to explore, as the dice rolls, human beings, a collection of atoms, bump into each other, start talking, they finish each other’s sentences, sometimes they communicate with a gesture from their eyes, they tell wordless jokes, speak nameless wonders, they share an oasis together for a moment floating through space. I can say for certain I am so grateful to have friends to talk to, alone together.

A transcript of the poem can be read below:

What a blast!
the bright and colourful future
where my surrounds
were falling down and I
(the whenua/land)
started to draw
projecting love, accepting
your radical self
is the mother

So what’s next?
I cannot escape this sense that I will die
crossing the line, covered in blood,
I am struggling, sheltering myself
Pain is flowing through my veins touching my deepest fears,
confusion and self doubt, I hope they do not become constant
for who I was and will never be again
– you are going to die

I’m calling them in,
in within, from a sacred darkness,
Cocooned confined in a bubble, distant and removed,
No one knows the life I lost or the times I’ve cried alone.

We need each other.

I’m still here


Audience Song is a collective of songwriters who compose songs inspired by stories that speak of overcoming the challenges and adversities in our fast-changing world.

AUDIENCE SONG is a project by Song Conversations

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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