Brian Eno: "Speech Is Song"

Currently collaborating with the British poet Rick Holland, music producer Brian Eno has seen speech take on different qualities when it is set to music. "We are all singing," he says. 

What's the Latest Development?


How did Eno come to collaborate with British Poet Rick Holland? "On my last album," says Eno, "there’s a song that dates from about 2002 I think which is called ‘Bone Bomb’ where I used one of the voices that actually turns up on this record, a woman called Aylie Cooke to read a poem that I had made out of two news reports about suicide bombers. And I was really fascinated by this new territory of ‘musical poetry,’ you might call it, but I thought, ‘Who’s going to write the poems?’ That’s not my job, really, I’m not that good at it, and anyway I don’t particularly want to, I don’t want to be concerned with that aspect of the job."

What's the Big Idea?

"We are all singing," says Eno. "We call it speech, but we’re singing to each other, and I thought, as soon as you put spoken word onto music, you start to hear it like singing anyway. You start to develop musical value and musical weight, and you start to notice how this word falls on that beat, and so on and so on. So in a way I think I was trying to draw more attention to the fact that everybody is a singer—everybody who uses their voice is kind of singing. And that was a big liberation for me, to realize that."

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

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  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

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Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
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