How To Get There From Here is a piece for solo speaking voice that transforms the phrase “we remember not the word, but the sound of the word” in three ways: at the level of the phoneme, the letter, and the semantic meaning. The first movement is drawn from 1,600 segments of speech arranged first as a fixed media electronic composition and then transcribed into International Phonetic Alphabet symbols for human performance. The second is a transformation on the letters themselves, moving from one word to the next by making simple edits: adding, removing, or editing letters. The final movement finds elements of the phrase in historical English texts by Austen, Brontë, Carroll, Chaucer, Joyce, Hobbes, Melville, Shakespeare, Wells, and the King James Bible.
The piece uses custom implementations of phonetic and speech-recognition algorithms in its composition. These elements include an automated phoneme splitter that breaks the speech into fragments, a formant tracer and voice-tuned pitch tracker, and a pathfinding algorithm to trace the most efficient routes from one word to another. Implemented in Rust, selected algorithms also exist as SuperCollider UGens for use in realtime synthesis and analysis.