Image and Inscription: Sonification as an Interpretive Methodology in Biblical, Textual, and Visual Study

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Image and Inscription is a sonic oratorio based upon Exodus 19.1–3.45. The narrative relates the events surrounding the delivery of the Decalogue, principally. Initially, they sounded out as an ephemeral speech act, prior to becoming an inscribed text. The composition returns them, and their context, to the condition of sound. It represents a suite of sonic landscapes that summons the terrain, cataclysmic phenomena, loud noises, music, ritual, and figures featured in the narrative. The central text (or libretto) on which the artwork is based derives from the principal clause of the Second Commandment, forbidding graven images (Exodus 20.4). The term ‘graven’ (Hebrew: pesel) means ‘to engrave’.

Here, the clause – taken from the Welsh Bible (1588) and Authorised Version (1611) – sonified in three ways: 1. Mechanically engraved on a metal matrix; the sound of the process was stretched, digitally, and modified through synthesizer filters in order to generate tonal characteristics apposite to the mood of the text’s context. 2. Recorded speech. The text, spoken in Welsh and English, was engraved on two 33rpm vinyl records, and manipulated on record player decks. 3. Pictorial engravings depicting Moses on Mount Sinai – derived from 19th century Welsh and English pulpit bibles – were converted into a data-stream capable of being processed on sound software.

The paper explores the transformation and fusion of the text within the framework of biblical studies and hermeneutics, biblical painting, landscape studies, music, and film adaptations and scores portraying the story of Moses and the Israelites.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2016
EventTransmedial Musics: Music Across Media - University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 19 Nov 201719 Nov 2017


ConferenceTransmedial Musics
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period19 Nov 201719 Nov 2017


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