Themes I

If the periodic emergence of a theme iterates a temporal unity, that is, a rhythm, then what diverse compilations of these rhythms distinguish scene from scene?1 And what if, through these rhythms, Hamlet’s players spoke not to those who share the stage in that moment, but to those who occupy the next beat in their thematic movement? What could then be said through and about these distributed conversations? Find in this sonification tools with which to algorithmically track the emergence, clustering and dispersion of Hamlet’s thematic elements. Here each theme has been assigned a sound that is particular to it. These sounds will play whenever phrases correlated to a given theme appear. In this way, the listener will be able to hear the thematic and temporal diversities that move the play as much as, and maybe more so than, its plot. As you listen, consider the specific shape of the silence composed by what goes unsaid by whom and when.


1. Drawing on Caroline Levine’s point that literature and society are necessarily composed of multiple, simultaneous, yet uncoordinated temporal rhythms linking the past to the present in complex ways, Sonifying Hamlet proceeds via the discovery and composition of temporal diversities out of textual phenomena. These differ from the diversities that Levine alludes to insofar as the temporalities of Sonifying Hamlet are not drawn from institutional norms, but are instead computationally-delineated according to the frequency with which characters speak, the frequency with which characters occupy the same scene, the statistical correlation of words to one another (thereby instantiating a topic or theme) and the application of computational pseudo-randomness to these textual features. See: Levine, Forms, 49-81.