Stephanie Pan

‘What is the current that makes machinery’ – Stelios Manousakis

Performance for female voice and surround live electronics (18′)

Stelios Manousakis: Composition, Programming, Live electronics
Stephanie Pan: Voice
Gertrude Stein: Text

‘What is the current that makes machinery’ is a cycle of short pieces for female voice and surround live electronics, written for vocalist Stephanie Pan and her unique capabilities in extended vocal techniques.

The pieces are based on texts from the first section of Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons: objects; food; rooms, a collection of short prose-poems written in 1912. In these modernist texts, often characterized as ‘verbal cubism’ or ‘language art’, Stein composes with language not for the world it represents, but with its first matter – signs, sounds, rhythm, syntax and semantic fragments – treating it as a rediscovered aesthetic object that alludes to new worlds on the listener’s mind.

The piece uses the voice and specifically crafted electronic processes (in SuperCollider) to reveal and amplify the complex multi-dimensional beauty of each text and their inherent sonic, structural, and poetic musicality in a live setting.

Up to now, 7 movements/songs have been composed (more will follow). You can read the texts at the end of the page:

– Introduction (from ‘A substance in a cushion’)
– Dirt and not copper
– A seltzer bottle
– A long dress
– Suppose an eyes
– Peeled pencil, choke
– This is the dress, aider

The piece premiered at the Dag in de Branding Festival, The Hague, NL in 2013.

Photos by Danijel Mihajlovic

Below is a video with excerpts from the piece’s premiere at the Dag in de Branding new music festival, 9 March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: A lot of the audio content in this recording is inaudible through laptop or equivalent small speakers. Listening through good quality speakers or headphones is highly recommended

Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons: Objects (1912)


The change of color is likely and a difference a very little difference is prepared. Sugar is not a vegetable.

Callous is something that hardening leaves behind what will be soft if there is a genuine interest in there being present as many girls as men. Does this change. It shows that dirt is clean when there is a volume.


Dirt and not copper makes a color darker. It makes the shape so heavy and makes no melody harder.

It makes mercy and relaxation and even a strength to spread a table fuller. There are more places not empty. They see cover.


Any neglect of many particles to a cracking, any neglect of this makes around it what is lead in color and certainly discolor in silver. The use of this is manifold. Supposing a certain time selected is assured, suppose it is even necessary, suppose no other extract is permitted and no more handling is needed, suppose the rest of the message is mixed with a very long slender needle and even if it could be any black border, supposing all this altogether made a dress and suppose it was actual, suppose the mean way to state it was occasional, if you suppose this in August and even more melodiously, if you suppose this even in the necessary incident of there certainly being no middle in summer and winter, suppose this and an elegant settlement a very elegant settlement is more than of consequence, it is not final and sufficient and substituted. This which was so kindly a present was constant.


What is the current that makes machinery, that makes it crackle, what is the current that presents a long line and a necessary waist. What is this current.

What is the wind, what is it.

Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color. A line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it.


Suppose it is within a gate which open is open at the hour of closing summer that is to say it is so.

All the seats are needing blackening. A white dress is in sign. A soldier a real soldier has a worn lace a worn lace of different sizes that is to say if he can read, if he can read he is a size to show shutting up twenty-four.

Go red go red, laugh white.

Suppose a collapse in rubbed purr, in rubbed purr get.

Little sales ladies little sales ladies little saddles of mutton.

Little sales of leather and such beautiful beautiful, beautiful beautiful.


Rub her coke.


Aider, why aider why whow, whow stop touch, aider whow, aider stop the muncher, muncher munchers.

A jack in kill her, a jack in, makes a meadowed king, makes a to let.

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