From the group's website:
Waywords and Meansigns is an upcoming audio version of James Joyce's famous text, Finnegans Wake, to be read in its entirety. The book will be divided into 17 sections, and there will be a different music/reader/performance group assigned to each section. Featuring established as well as up-and-coming artists, Waywords and Meansigns will offer a version of Joyce's work that is stimulating, accessible, and enjoyable to even the most casual of readers and listeners.The project will feature various artists, musicians, and other daring creative folks who will each record one of the book's 17 chapters in full. I have signed on to create a recording of one of my favorite chapters, the "Inquest of Yawn" (Book III, chapter 3). Participants are free to add whatever music or effects they want and interpret the text through their reading however they see fit.
I love this idea. This is something Finnegans Wake has needed for a long time, a true Here Comes Everybody recording. It is a book that's meant to be heard, after all. Listening to James Joyce read a few pages from it aloud seems to open up the entire text to new possibilities. When I embarked on a cover-to-cover reading of the book, I found it essential to listen to Patrick Healy's recording in order to appreciate the text's river-like, meandering, extending flow and cacophonous play of consonants and vowels.
Not only to hear it, but to actually read it aloud or perform it really enhances and amplifies the Wake experience. It's a challenge for your mouth; occasionally the extraordinary patterns of employing the lips, tongue, and teeth will cause one to break out into laughter. Take the following passage, for instance.
"For, with that farmfrow's foul flair for that flayfell foxfetor, (the calamite's columitas calling for calamitous calamitance) who that scrutinising marvels at those indignant whiplooplashes; those so prudently bolted or blocked rounds; the touching reminiscence of an incompletet trail or dropped final; a round thousand whirligig glorioles, prefaced by (alas!) now illegible airy plumeflights, all tiberiously ambiembellishing the initials majuscule of Earwicker" - FW, p. 119To navigate a reading of that passage is to maintain the inflection of one expanding sentence with many interruptions, while encountering strange Joycean mutant words like "whiplooplashes" and "plumeflights" and immediately judging their pronunciation. There's also plenty of fun alliteration. In fact, that snippet encapsulates the reading experience pretty well. It's actually a passage describing the very nature of the Finnegans Wake text itself, taken from a chapter (Book I, ch. 5) that serves as a primer for how to read this bizarre book. It's all about the sound. As readers, we've become so used to eyeing the page and determining meaning from the letters we see. The Wake seeks to reawaken the sound of language, opening up the larger possibilities of the spoken word from which language originally sprung, "here keen again and begin again to make soundsense and sensesound kin again." (FW p. 121)
I look forward to recording my contribution and hearing the rest of the recordings in the "Waywords and Meansigns" project. It'll be a challenging endeavor for all involved, but it also promises to be lots of fun. I'm thankful for the brave souls who are putting it all together and wish them the best of luck.