Waywords and Meansigns - image by Robert Berry

Finnegans Wake set to Music by Waywords and Meansigns

Love James Joyce but remain fearful of reading Finnegans Wake? The guys at Waywords and Meansigns have decided to harness the power of audio to make it easier.


From the beginning of May, this new, unabridged audio version of Finnegans Wake, collaboratively read and set to music by contributors from around the globe, will be available at http://www.waywordsandmeansigns.com. There are currently excerpts of the full performance available for streaming, with the full audio due to be available on May 4th.


“Our hope,” explained project co-founder Derek Pyle, “was to create a version of Joyce’s book that would be accessible to newcomers, but still feel fresh and exciting for devoted students and scholars.” To ensure accessibility, all audio will be freely distributed via the Waywords and Meansigns website.


Mark Traynor, Managing Director of our very own James Joyce Centre, agreed that “the aural textures and rhythms of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake are intrinsic to its structure, so much so that early supporters of the work like Eugéne Jolas stressed the vitality of its ‘musical flow’. Waywords and Meansigns have embraced that principle and will no doubt help to spread the weird wordy world of the Wake to new audiences.”


Each musician who participated in the Waywords and Meansigns project was assigned their own chapter to set to music and record. The only requirements were that the words be unabridged, audible, and more or less in their original order. The outcome is a fascinating cross-section of musical interpretations, ranging genres of rock, ambient and jazz.


The Waywords and Meansigns project contains contributions from many celebrated Joyceans including: saxophonist Hayden Chisholm, known across Europe for his performative readings of the Wake; Peter Quadrino, leader of the Finnegans Wake Reading Group of Austin, Texas; Mariana Lanari, leader of the RongWrong Finnegans Wake Reading Group in Amsterdam; and painter Robert Amos, whose artwork adorns the James Joyce Bistro in Victoria, British Columbia.


Waywords and Meansigns is also currently accepting musicians for a second unabridged edition of Finnegans Wake. If you are interested in getting involved you can contact Derek Pyle at waywordsandmeansigns@gmail.com

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