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WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

Phone recordings robots

Ever notice how many ways people communicate with each other through voice recordings? For example, phone greetings, voicemail, etc.?

Beyond all of the voice greetings and messages recorded by actual human people, I also hear a lot of messages recorded by robots / voice synthesizers.

I am generally interested in all of these as part of the sound of our time. Something we hear a lot. And, I can't help but wonder how much of it, if any, will be captured in art that future peoples might use to better understand us.

I also can't help myself, when I have to recorded something like a phone greeting, from wanting to use it as a creative opening—if not something strictly musical, at least something akin to a musical performance—or maybe something like performance art.

And, a bit of a tangent: oh, I so much wish I had a copy of this one voice greeting I recorded in the mid-1990s . . .

I recorded a message for my at-the-time office phone. It was an early digital phone / PBX system (Rolm, I recall) that allowed you to re-record just the tail end of your message. In other words, you didn't have to re-record the whole thing—I think the idea was that people would flub their phone numbers or sign-offs at the end, and this feature helped you correct just that bit. Maybe it was so you could have a changing ending that was easy to change?

That feature allowed me to essentially cut and paste together a message out of fragments of my speech, such that my somewhat normally spoken sentences became reset with unusual timing / transitions between words. Many aspect of the rhythm and cadence of the speech were altered, and the final "piece," by the time it was done, left you with an eerie / haunting feeling—even though what I said would look perfectly normal and acceptable were it just written out on paper .

Argh. It's almost pointless to describe it like this (I can't believe I even tried)—you had to hear it.

At the time, I had to delete and change my message, or I was going to get fired. It was like "delete it NOW, or else." So many people at the office—even people I hardly ever talked to, went out of their way to tell me how pissed off they were about that message—so I relented and changed the message. Of course, many of my friends—even people I hardly ever talked to, went out of their way to tell me how much they had loved it.

Had I thought about it more at the time, I would have at least saved a copy for myself, for later (like, now!). But, anyway, that's a whole other story. And, maybe it's even better as a legend than something we could re-examine now.

Now, back to today's (shorter!) story—with sound!:

Today, I got a robot to record a new greeting for my mobile phone. And, I thought it'd be fun to post it here (since so few people call my mobile anyway), so at least a few more people might hear it.

Play the voice greeting.



I remember that voicemail from the 90s. It was funny.

Today’s robot sounds sad. I wish he could smell the flowers.

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