Consonant Clusters Karaoke

Consonant Cluster Karaoke, A singing machine that tease at the ranges of possible phonetic sounds. Through the restrictions of vocal tracts, Consonants are articulated by the hinderance of airflow, when clustered is surprisingly playful and complex.

Like the wash of the ocean wsshh shhh wsssh , or the long compositions found in the languages of Eastern Bloc: wszczn (Polish), pskrblj (Croatian), and skrbstv(Slovenian).

Set in a booth-sized room tucked away in the corner, a projection is thrown at an offset angle and RGB LED disco lights flooding the surfaces to set the tone for some serious vibes. The flat screen display flanked by two microphones ready for a duet, or silo solo and even a group jam.

Song selections are limited to a standard 4 bar progression pop backing track and rather fast house beats found on youtube. Inviting the audience to embody discomfort of twisting tongues to unknown terrain and ride the fear of sounding ridiculous. The music videos consist of footages captured by high tech gadgets of mundane spaces such as the slow motion flyover of a drone on a beach and underwater 360 degree perspective, accompany by a series of gif in preset animations. Presenting a surreal dimension where one commented to be David Lynch-like.

Produced at the School of Poetic Computation over the course of a 3-day showcase November 9th - 11th, 2017

Notes: in the following I will illustrate a series of visual, sound and lyrical detournements, concepts integrated in the Karoake scenes. Links to futher whirlpools on the darknet of Wiki, Reddit and youtube.


Consist of found material on the internet, the aesthestic takes on Vaporwave trends [Reddit explains]. Recycling preset animations with basic 3d models & gifs that most digital tools provide, for an uncanny effect [Goodbye uncanny vallery] that is often bizzare, evoking nostalgia. [Mystery of the LOST 90s Animations]

The ability to see patterns in nature has carved entire geneaology of disciplines on the studying of geometry, specifically in creative coding, softwares such as Process and OpenFramework are designed for graphically representations of the divine equation -- of ultimate truth. Here I use the fibonacci sequence to layout series of slow blossoming flora. Say, given i number of elements; rotate, translate and scale incrementally to render them in spiral configuration along a fractal path. ofRotate( i * 15 );ofTranslate(i * 10, 0 );float scl = 1.0 - i * 0.9 / 20.0;ofScale( scl, scl );
Gravity is, but an illusion with increment of y position injected with noise pattern [Wiki: Perlin Noise] for bounce, oscillation of movement for more naturalness float yPos = -500 * ofNoise(i, j) + ofMap(ofNoise(i+100,j+100), 0,1,0, 100) * timeElapsed;Perspective, imitation of depth in a flyover footage recedes with calculation of scale in relation to power of time ofScale(.5 + 0.01 * pow(timeElapsed,2), .5 + 0.01 * pow(timeElapsed,2));
Collison detection, is the physics calculation apply in both video games [Street Fighter]and Computer Simulations [Wiki] to model real world phenomenons. Occurs duing the intersection of the subjects' bounding box and calculated force exerted to retaliate, ie 'bounces' off of each other is the accumulation of inertia.
Ghosting, the act of following happens when a portion of my position updates to your position, thus following 99% of me plus 1% of you, with every frame update, my position will come closer to you but never exactly your position. dude_catchers[i].pos = 0.99 * dude_catchers[i].pos + 0.01 * dude.pos;
One of the first lessons of animations, is the application of trigonometry. The use of Sine and Cosine waves to move object in-out of sync with each other, generate moments of fleeting unison. When multiply with decimal constants, the velocity is offset to a bezier parabola form of speeding and easing motions, or what I like to call 'a beautiful Pineapple' float offset = i * sin(ofGetElapsedTimef()*0.1)*0.1;float x = 400 + 300 * cos((duration + offset + j * (PI*2/3.0))* 1.7);float y = 400 + 300 * sin((duration + offset+ j * (PI*2/3.0)) *0.7);

Sounds of the Empty orchestra カラオケ

The use of backing tracks in Karaoke is enabled with the standardization of the Pop music genre from the 80s.

I–V–vi–IV progressions

The 4 bar chord progression [Wiki] compostion allows for ease of mapping lyrics to instrumental variations of the track.


Crowdsource Backing Tracks

In 2017 we are grateful for the ease of access to Karoake on Youtube, there seems to be an endless stream of backing track productions. Flourishing genres beyond pop to Rock, Blues, Blues Rock and myriads of other varieties.... etc. You name it

Tempo & pauses

To measure the tempo of these tracks, beats per minute (BPM) are map to pace out lyrics evenly.

Beats per minute / 4 bar chord progression = bars per minute

60 seconds / bars per minute = seconds per bar float secsPerBeat = 1/(bpm/60); float sequence = ofGetElapsedTimef() - startTime; // display duration float pctSequence = fmod((currentBeat - accumSize)/lyricSize, 1.0f);

Body as a chamber of Instruments

Why Consonant Clusters?

Rather than the projection of sounds with Vowels, Consonant pronounciations require attention to restrictions and coordinations of various organs. The fundamental lesson of acquiring languages is to learn how to twist the tongue and form the vocal tracts differently accross new orthography of phoneme. Often the obvious culprits for carrying an 'accents' is detected when one pronounces the same set of consonants in their mother tongue rather than in the target language. Accuracy is then measured by the means of our ability to flex in new manners. The following are information extracted mostly from Wikipedia as overviews of much deeper topics in articulation, phonology and orthography as explanations to the compostions of lyrics.

Places of Articulation


tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge /n/, /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/


both lips /m/, /p/, /b/


tongue against the upper teeth /t/, /d/, /n/


lower lip and the upper teeth /pf/, /f/, /v/


'of the throat' -- general back of the oral cavity, includes velar and uvular consonants (hanging down at the entrance to the throat). First used in Hebrew, subjectively used to denote harsher or grating sounds, partially used in French, Russian and Swabian German


body of the tongue raised against the hard palate (the middle middle part of the roof of the mouth); /j/, /y/es


'bent back' -- tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate; /s/, /z/. Depending on the point of contact with the roof, further back the more concave is the tongue, thus producing a more duller and lower pitch sound. ie. Polish: cz, sz, ż (rz), dż, Mandarin: zh, ch, sh, r. German: ç ich, Spanish ñ


back the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the back part of the roof of the mouth); /ng/, /k/, /g/. Most common consonant in human languages, since velar region is quite flexible and extensive, it's easily assimilate to other articulation depending in the adjacent vowel.

Manners of articulation

In considering pronounciations, the study of articulation specifically -- manners in which the 'configuration and interaction of articulators (speech organs such as the tong, lips, palate)' controls stricture, formulate classification. Here we understand how the body as a chamber of instructment is tuned for various dimensions of sound ranging from Obstruent, Sonorant, Liquid to Continuant

    Obstruent - obstructed airflow
  • Stop | Plosive | Occlusive - vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow is ceased, happens in 3 stages, 1. catch, 2. hold, and 3. release of air.
  • Fricative - forcing air flow through a narrow channel between two articulator, causing a turbulent flow of friction -- thus fricative.
  • Afficate - begins as a stop, releases as a fricative
    Sonorant - continuous, undisturbed airflow
  • Nasal - escaping of air through the nose such as /n/, /m/
  • Approximant - when articulators are near each other but not exactly touching, with enough precision to still generate friction in airstream
  • Flap | Trap - a single musle contraction of the articulator to thrust against another. No buildup, no release, ie /tt/
  • Trill - vibrations between the active articulator and passive articulator, ie. Spanish /rr/
  • Liquid - great degree of freedom in consonant clusters, consist of Rhotic, R like sounds /r/ and Lateral - where air is channeled along the edges of the tongue, while block by the tongue from traveling in the middle of the mouth

Generative Lyrics :

Random walk on the Qwerty

Given the ubiquitous instrument, most frequently appeared cluster are already arrange on the Qwerty keyboard. Thus a script for performing random walks on the rows to generate new consonant clusters . Since the keyboard is designed for the most frequently appear combination, it make sense that certain cluster will appear near to each other such as gh, tr, pl while other more fictional pairs have conveniently become internet slang: ie. jk (just kidding), ty (thank you), rt (retweet)
top: qwr qwrrt qwrrty ty typmiddle: sssd sddf sddf dd ddfg hjjk kl k kbottom: zxc xcvvb vvbn bnmm nmm nmm nm
ghb ghy ght gty
frt frg fbv bhn
mnv jkfd sdfg dfgh fghj ghjk jkl

Preset Clusters shuffle

In english, consonant clusters are classified as either blends (morphing the sound) and graphs (produce only one sound) diagraphs for pairs and trigraphs as trios. Which limit us to a set of clusters for compostion. More variations are created from exisitng clusters via mutations and duplication techniques.
Blends: bl, br, cl, cr, dr, gl, gr, fl, fr, pl, pr, sl, sm, sp, st, tr, wr
Diagraphs: ck, ch, gh, ng, ph, ng, sc, sk, sl, sh, sn, sw, th, tw, wh
Triagraphs: scr, shr, spl, spr, str, thr
# repetition
# variation
# mutation
# elongation
# dwindling
rrsk rrsk sk t t
# II II - IV

Repeat the random & vary the presets

The arbitrary act of writing song lyrics consists of only consonant cluster utterances, is however 'justify' by applying existing structures and all of the materials of the english orthography. Applying The new clusters from Random Walk on the Qwerty are fitted in repetitive choruses while the blends and graphs flow along the verstile verse. Dialectically weaving the foriegn with the familar in a verse-verse-chorus.

Song Structure


st smst sm smmssmm smmssmm smms smms smms smm smmthr sprthr spr


thrtthrt thrtthrt thrt thrt sprs thrt sprrpsng chng ch chhcchh chhcchh chhc chhc chc chh chc


st grst gr grrgsts grrgsts grrg grrg stt sts grrshr thrshr thr shrsthrr shrsthrr shrs shrs thrt thrr thrtng snng sn snssnns snssnns sns sns snns snns sns


gnng gnng gnn gng gnnggnng pmmp pmmp pmm pmp pmmppmmp jxxj jxxj jxx jxj jxxjjxxj


cl glcl gl cllccllc cllccllc cllc cllc gllg cllc cllcspr strspr str sprrpsstrr sprrpsstrr sprrps sprrps strs strr strrtstw phtw ph twwphp twwphp tww tww phh php twt


br trbr tr brrbrb brrbrb brr brr trt brb trtstr scrstr scr scrrcsstrrts scrrcsstrrts scrrcs scrrcs scrrcs strrts strssk cksk ck ckkcskk ckkcskk ckkc ckkc ckc skk sks


sdds sdds sdd sds sddssdds thht thht thh tht thhtthht wllw wllw wll wlw wllwwllw


st blst bl sttsstt sttsstt stts stts stts stt blbscr sprscr spr sprrpsscrrcs sprrpsscrrcs sprrps sprrps sprs scrrcs sprrsh thsh th thttht thttht tht tht shhs tht shhs


pr plpr pl plpplp plpplp plp plp prrp plp prrscr splscr spl scrrspll scrrspll scrr scrr scrs spll scrssl ghsl gh slsghg slsghg sls sls slls ghg slls


rzzr rzzr rzz rzr rzzrrzzr txxt txxt txx txt txxttxxt tmmt tmmt tmm tmt tmmttmmt