The insertion of the voice into the legal sphere dates back to the 18th century, during the days of the French Revolution. Yet, the role that vocality assumes in the act of transmitting an oral testimony is often overlooked, or falls unheard. In this essay, I engage with the work that the voice does in the scene of the oral testimony, as well as the ways in which the voice is heard within this scene. I approach this theme through the coerced confession of Central Park Five member Korey Wise, and bring myself to this essay as an active listener. Thinking with Fred Moten’s notion of the accompaniment, Giorgio Agamben’s work on the witness and the archive, and Adriana Cavarero’s work on vocal uniqueness, I offer a methodology for listening to and transcribing oral testimonies in a way that aims to be accountable both to the voice itself and to the language it uses in order to transmit the testimony. Through this methodology, I hope to think of the relationship between the language of speech and the nonlanguage of the voice.
Lee Gilboa is a U.S.-based Israeli composer, researcher, and audio engineer. In her work, she uses speech, audio spatialization, and vocal processing, and engages with different themes around the sonic identity such as naming, representation, collectivity, oppression, and self-expression. Her works have been presented at Roulette Intermedium, the Immersion Room in NYU, the Cube at Virginia Tech, Ars Electronica Forum Wallis Festival, and NYCEMF, among others, and in conferences such as the Audio Testimonies Symposium, Borderline Sonorities, and the Sound of Sound Studies. Her current project, “Against the Odds: Listening for Vocality and Heardness in Oral Testimonies,” considers the wide combination of ears and listening filters within the juridical sphere and the positionality of “listening from.” She holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and Columbia University and currently serves as an assistant professor of electronic production and design at Berklee College of Music. (Composed by Norman Frazier)