“I smell the blood,” by Andrew Choate

“I smell the blood,” by Andrew Choate

  • Source: Elana Mann
  • Year: 2011
  • Submitted by: Elana Mann

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“I smell the blood”

Divide choir of any size into 3 sections and arrange around conductor: left group, middle group, right group. Conductor sings one of the nineteen musical phoneme strings from the list below to one of the groups.* The group then begins singing and repeating that phonemic thread. If the conductor only wants the group to repeat it a certain amount of times, s/he holds up a number with his/ her fingers indicating how many times the group should repeat that string. The important thing is that the group sing the phrase back in the manner in which the conductor sang it to them: vociferous, tepid, aggravated, practically meowed, any which way. The conductor then moves to another group and sings another string for that group to repeat. The conductor should be listening to see what kind of phrase (or silence) would best fit next, and also give directions for volume to the three groups. Conductor should also keep time for the groups, either by snapping fingers or tapping feet. Conductor is essentially an improvisor, an editor and a conductor all at once during performances of this piece. Conductor moves from one group to the next in any pattern, singing phrases to get sung back, directing the manner of the current singing or indicating a need for a group to go silent. The phrases can be combined in any number of permutations.

*As far as the “musical phoneme strings”, I have collected several that I think are fun to sing and provide for a variety of choral possibilities. Several easy-to-use ones are listed below, with the names of the original musical performer in parentheses. I chose these because they are deeply familiar to my musical memory, but these are not the only phrases available: whoever the conductor is needs to pick phrases from his/her own memory arsenal that s/he knows and enjoys and can sing. (It works best to have a mixture of short and long phrases.) The important characteristic that determines what makes a phrase available is that it is a string of phonemes without definite meaning. It must also be sung in its original context. You can be playful in your choices. You’ll see in my list below that I’ve chosen several from the same song; it’s common in songs that use this kind of musical nonsense speech that there is a lot of play with and around these kinds of phrases, resulting in the generation of multiple, isolatable clusters.  


Whoa Ha Hey (Funkadelic)
Whoa Ha Hum (Funkadelic)
La-La-La-LA-LA. LA-LA La. LA-LA La. LA-LA La. La-Laaaaaahhh (Wire)
La-La, LO La La, LO La-La, La-Yah (Wire)
O O O (Wire)
BUM BU-BU-BUM (Dog Faced Hermans)
La-La LA-La-La (Eugene McDaniels)
Laaaaaaahhh La-La La-La La-La LA (Eugene McDaniels)
Fah Fa-Fa FA, Fa-Fa Fa-Fa FAH FAH (Talking Heads)
Bah Dah Dah (Razika)
Bah Dah DAAAAAAAAA (Razika)
Bah Dah Dah. Dah. Dah. (Razika)
Dah, Duh-Dah, nDah nDaw (Scott Walker)
Dah, Duh-Dah. Doo Dah-Ooo-Daow (Scott Walker)
Lah Deee Dah Dee Dee (Sonny & Cher)    
Lah Deee Dah Dee Dah (Sonny & Cher)    
Bah. Dah. Dah. Dah. Dah. Dah. Dah. (The Breeders)
uuuuhhhhh aaaahhhhhh (The Breeders)
Doo, Duh-Duh DOO, Duh-Duh DOO, DUH-DOO DOO-DOO (Roy Briggs & Alton Tew)

Resonate-Reverberate-Roar (Re-Re-Roar) is a growing archive of original sounds that express an experimental, independent, and socially progressive spirit.  The sounds on Re-Re-Roar include field recordings, interviews, songs, speeches, experimental music, and more. Re-Re-Roar is a site for activ[ist] listening, with the purpose of distributing sounds of resistance to eager ears around the globe. Visitors are encouraged to add their own sounds of resistance to the archive through the website's submit function.

Re-Re-Roar originated from artist Elana Mann’s collection of sounds of resistance, which she began during the Iraq war in 2007 by recording commuters in Los Angeles and Iraq. The website was incubated during Mann's time as the 2013 Amy M. Sears artist-in-resident at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, amongst a group of peace activists from the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet & Consociates. Re-Re-Roar was designed by Roman Jaster and Nicole Jaffe, with production assistance from Reilo Dahl. For more about Elana Mann visit: elanamann.com

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elanamann@gmail.com