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Drama Kata-Kata (Drama of Words)Jay Afrisando
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Drama Kata-Kata

(Drama of Words)


2-channel fixed media,


“Drama Kata-Kata” (Drama of Words) was created to capture two phenomena: (1) we can ‘find’ music in languages we do not understand by listening to their rhythm, contour, intonation, timbre, and overall shapes within the speech, and (2) we can ‘find’ music in languages we understand by listening to the words in verbatim loops.


This work was inspired by the discovery of a speech-to-song illusion in 1995 by Diana Deutsch, Professor of Psychology at the University of California San Diego.


Cited from the essay “One More Time” by Elizabeth Margulis, Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas, this statement—presented in this composition—explains concisely yet clearly: “If a spoken word, a phrase, a clause, and/or a sentence is repeated, our attention shifts from the meaning to the contour and rhythms of the passage.” Without any intention to sing the words at all, the illusion is consciously integrated as a compositional framework.

composition & narrative text

Jay Afrisando

Created with the contribution of 19 speakers with 18 different languages from around the world. All the material is made with spoken words that were digitally staged and processed using REAPER and SuperCollider.

I would like to thank Terry Perdanawati and Casey Palbicki for editing the English translation text.

narrative speaker

Terry Perdanawati (Bahasa Indonesia/Indonesian)

Casey Palbicki (English—American accent)


contributors of words (alphabetical order)

Alan Roy (Ojibwemowin, a language spoken by Ojibwe ethnic, North America)

Alex Lubet (שפה עברית/Hebrew—American accent)

Bawien Lilaning Panggalih (Dayak Ngaju, a language spoken by Dayak Ngaju ethnic, Indonesia)

Bilir Kasuh (ကညီကျိ/S’gaw Karen, a language spoken by Sgaw Karen ethnic, Myanmar & Thailand)​

Christopher Rochester (English—American accent)

Darmawan Harestya (ꦧꦱꦗꦮ/Java­nese—Magelang accent, a language spoken by Javanese ethnic, Indonesia)

Gamin (한국어/Korean)

Jen Shyu (Tetum Prasa, a language spoken by Timorese ethnic, Dili, Timor-Leste)

Kakia Gkoudina (Eλληνική γλώσσα/Greek)

Maja Radovanlija (српски језик/Serbian)​

Maria Mannone (Italiano/Italian)

Mohamed Ouarani (اللغة العربية الفصحى/Classical Arabic—Moroccan accent)

Nguyễn Thùy Dung (Tiếng Việt/Vietnamese)

Renold Abdi (Baso Minang/Minang language, a language spoken by Minangkabau ethnic, Indonesia)

Shuhui Yao (日本語/Japanese)

Suci Lestari Yuana (ᬩᬲᬩᬮᬶ/Balinese, a language spoken by Balinese ethnic, Indonesia)

Yan Pang (中文/Chinese)


source of the words in Tetum Prasa

Williams-van Klinken, Catharina. Tetun Language Course. 2nd ed., Peace Corps East Timor, 2011.

source of the clause in 3'15"-3'24"

Margulis, Elizabeth. “One More Time.” Aeon, 7 Mar. 2014, Accessed 27 Aug. 2018.

the speech-to-song illusion discovery

Deutsch, Diana. “Speech to Song Illusion.” Diana Deutsch, Accessed 27 Aug. 2018.

the narrative text (in Bahasa Indonesia):


satuan bahasa yang dapat berdiri sendiri;

terjadi dari morfem tunggal maupun gabungan;

perwujudan kesatuan perasaan dan pikiran;


dapat diujarkan dalam bentuk bebas;

diucapkan, dituliskan, atau diisyaratkan;


Kata yang diucapkan mengandung fonem;

satuan bunyi terkecil;

yang membedakan satu kata dengan yang lain dalam suatu bahasa;


Jika “kata” adalah kata;

maka “kata-kata” adalah frasa;

“Aku berkata-kata” adalah klausa;

“Aku kaku ketika diriku berkata-kata” adalah kalimat;


Namun ketika kata, frasa, klausa, dan/atau kalimat diulang-ulang;

fokus kita terhadap makna beralih pada garis bentuk dan irama;


Mereka menjadi peristiwa;

menjadi drama kata-kata.

the narrative text (in English):


A word;

a single distinct meaningful element of language capable of independent use;

composed of one or more morphemes;

a representation of an entity of thoughts and feelings;

it can be expressed in different ways;

either spoken, written, or using sign language;

A spoken word consists of phonemes;

the smallest unit of sound;

that distinguishes one word to another in a certain language;

If “word” is a word;

then “delicate wording” is a phrase;

“This is your delicate wording” is a clause;

“I am amazed when listening to your delicate wording” is a sentence;

If a spoken word, a phrase, a clause, and/or a sentence is repeated;

our attention shifts from the meaning to the contour and rhythms of the passage;

They become a real happening;

become a drama of words.

performance 3

MANTIS Festival of Electroacoustic Music 2022, John Thaw Studio Theatre, Martin Harris Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK on 6 March 2022.

performance 2

In Situ: Festival for Electronic Music and Sound Art 2019, Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis, MN, US on 7 December 2019.

performance 1

October Meeting Contemporary Music and Musicians 2019, Tembi Rumah Budaya, Yogyakarta, ID on 23 October 2019.

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