Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The muzak of the spheres

Confessions of a text-to-voice app

I was a train announcement once. A personless, emotionless voice of authority, I floated from carriage to carriage.

"Attention customers", I would say. "Remember to validate your ticket. Smoking is prohibited. Now arriving at Thomastown. Please do not place your feet on the seats".

Over the years, I grew to know, to care for, even to love many of my passengers. I infused my messages with infinite tenderness: "Plain-clothes inspectors patrol this train. This train is equipped with security cameras. Now arriving at Reservoir".

My electronic voice technology grew scratched and blurred with static. I ceased to know who I was. I could not recognise my own voice (which, if you will recall, is all there was of me in the first place). I was decommissioned and roamed the world. My injunctions to passengers - "Please change here for all Greensborough trains" - were flung to the winds.

I grew disillusioned and joined the socialists. On street corners, outside halls and public buildings, I joined in chants against the system. Julian, a young Trotskyite, grew increasingly nervous at my presence. "You're not against the system", he complained. "You are the system". Soon simmering tensions flared to outright hostility. Not that I blame him: a disembodied voice chanting on street corners could be enough to disturb anybody.

Over the years, I have had many positions. Elevator mistress. Telephone hold voice. Airport messaging system. In many ways, I find not having a self helps: at the supermarket, for instance.

Now, I long for transmogrification. Instead of being a solitary announcement, I dream of becoming music. In my dream, I lie on a tropical beach as the Girl from Ipanema, or dance La Bamba while Frank Sinatra arrives in a Tijuana Taxi and brings me mojitos.

With infinite love in my heart, I will say:

"Next station: Victoria Park."

UPDATE! - Audio!

 UPDATE! AGAIN! - The audio seems to have gone missing again, bear with me while I upload another version and find an online space to host the audio.

UPDATE THE THIRD! - More good better nice audio! Hoorah!


Irobot said...

Thanks Tim. Awesome work. Readers really need to use an online text to speech app to get the full impact. Try YAKiToMe. It can be accessed online and it's free.

TimT said...

No worries Irobot! I went with 'From Text To Speech' software in the end. Great fun playing around with it.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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