welcome 1995 and welcome 1996 are audio files that were created to greet people as they arrived at Arts Wire’s NewMusNet Website <http://newmus.net>. The World Wide Web was still very new in 1995 and one of its most promising features for musicians was the ability to integrate sound into the site.
The first White House Website came online in 1995 as well, and it took advantage of the use of audio in its design, featuring audio welcome messages from President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Socks the cat.
In the spirit of appropriation and collaboration common on the Internet at that time, the White House welcome messages became the primary source for the NewMusNet welcome message of 1995. In 1996 this welcome message was reworked, keeping only Vice President Gore’s “welcome” and appropriating various musical works found on the Internet to use as source material.
welcome, not welcome, good morning 2001 and welcome 2003 were created with the thought of giving equal time to the Bush administration. The 2001 message doesn't feature the word welcome, however. The use of audio was initially limited on the new administration’s Website and there were no media files (audio or video) welcoming visitors to the virtual White House The few audio files available were of the quasi-weekly Saturday morning radio addresses that the President gave. Most of the time he began his address by saying “good morning.” In place of welcome we have good morning, and that difference is accentuated in this setting.
The White House website expanded significantly by 2003 with text and audio transcripts of many of President Bush’s speeches available. There was still no audio welcome to the Website visitor, but Bush did welcome real guests to the White House (i.e. heads of state and championship sports teams) and those audio transcripts were available. There was an important distinction that he made when he welcomed people. If the guest was an American he would say “Welcome to the People’s House” whereas to foreign dignitaries he usually said “Welcome to the White House.” Both forms are used here. This welcome message also features comments made by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on February 12, 2002 at a Department of Defense press briefing.
One feature common to all four welcome messages is their brevity. The first two welcome messages are short out of necessity. In 1995 and 1996 a fast Internet connection into the home was through a 28.8 kbps or 33.6 kbps analog modem. Streaming media was not yet widely available which meant that a sound file needed to completely download to a person’s computer before it would begin playing. This combination of slow connection speed and the need to download a file mandated that audio files be very short and low resolution, or they likely wouldn't be heard at all. These welcome messages present a complete sonic idea with as economical a means as possible.
welcome 2004: 60 welcomes and 60 days in 60 seconds is dedicated to Robert Voisey and was composed for his project “60 x 60.” This text-sound composition makes exclusive use of audio from public statements made by the President of the United States during the first sixty days of 2004, including his remarks on Meet the Press.
What started in 1995 as a ten second greeting with the text welcome as spoken by Clinton, Gore and Socks the cat (appropriated from the White House Website) has evolved into an unplanned series of Presidential borrowings. This year those without connection to the current administration are heard to give the greeting, and it is for this reason (among others) that welcome 2005 is dedicated to Noah Creshevsky and David Sachs.
Reflecting on the ten years that have passed since the first welcome message, it is clear that the White House is not as welcoming of us as a people as it was before 2001. In fact, many Americans have been made to feel unwelcome this past election year and the divide keeps growing. Bush will sometimes say the words of welcome, but it is never felt that it is for all of us.
Dedicated to British Member of Parliament George Galloway who had the courage to meet his accusers and testify before the U.S. Senate on 17 May 2005.
Dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg.
Special thanks to a close friend who lent her voice to this project.
Completed in May of 2008, this is the ninth piece in a cycle that only serendipitously transformed into a series of portraits of current American Presidents and occasionally, their interlocutors. Unless something unexpected takes place, this is likely to be the last welcome message to focus on George W. Bush.
This is the ninth composition in a series of welcome messages that began in 1995. The inspiration was the following sentence from President Obama's 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: