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Signing Alphabet

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Music by Joan La Barbara
Date 1977

Signing Alphabet is a film by animator Steve Finkin that features Western classical music for voice and electronics by Joan La Barbara. An image of an animated hand morphs into the letters of the alphabet and vice versa, and its colors change into inhuman flesh tones. The soundtrack consists of a tapestry of sound made entirely of La Barbara’s voice using the sound of each letter, processed and manipulated electronically, that makes unnatural timbres. Sometimes the results are pleasing, and sometimes there are harsh dissonances. As the letter or American Sign Language gesture for the letter appears, each letter can be heard clearly.

There is another segment by Finkin that has a similar look, in which the ASL gesture for I love you is explained, with music by a different composer. Yet another segment describes the ASL gestures for day, morning, noon, and night.

Trivia

  • Disc three of Old School: Volume 2 misidentifies the segment as Singing Alphabet. It is spelled correctly in the liner notes.

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