Arts, Culture & Media

Global hit

Dutch avant-garde composer Stephen Emmer has a new CD out called Recitement.

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It's a "music and spoken word project."

The spoken word part is courtesy of writers from around the globe.

And Stephen Emmer sets those words to music.

This track, by the way, is based on an old recording of the late Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges.

He's reading his poem Everness.

Stephen Emmer says his goal was to write music that would complement the voice.

Emmer: "In the case of Borges I found the whole nostalgia, also by using the old master's voice, to make the music kind of nostalgic. To really suit the atmospherics of his vocal performance."

Jorge Luis Borges is just one of the many writers featured on the CD.

The others are a diverse bunch -- ranging from Samuel Beckett to Yoko Ono.

Some are heard reading their own work.

In other cases, a different artist reads the passage.

Emmer is an avid collector of spoken word recordings.

And he knew some of them would sound better with a little musical help.

Emmer: "Those stories, I thought their presentation format was rather dull and monotonous."

So, Stephen Emmer decide to spice them up -- with his own soundtrack.

The total process took two years to complete.

And the biggest headache for Emmer was getting copyright approval.

Emmer: "It's a whole story on it's own, the clearances process."

The one writer he really wanted? Ernest Hemingway reading portions from "The Old Man and the Sea."

Emmer: "The idea was to have a very sincere, single-handed acoustic, almost Spanish-American guitar accompaniment only. Almost as if the guitar playing would have taken place in that same shack or cabin where he recited the vocal."

Stephen Emmer pitched his idea to Hemingway's family and the author's publisher.

But it was all for naught.

Emmer didn't let this dampen his spirits, though

He pushed forward and worked with the authors he already had permission for.

The result is Stephen Emmer's new CD, Recitement.

For the World, I'm April Peavey.

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