Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
This persistent recapitulation of a thematic is rare for us, and indicates either a shortfall of our programmatic imagination (unlikely, it seems) or a question that keeps resurfacing, an unsolvable question, an aporia in the discursive network of musicking.
This endless interrogatory recapitulation shouldn't surprise us, as it is a continuation of traditions' inability to resolve the question;– as a survey of the Muses and their domains shows us that the line between music and speech was a blurry one from antiquity. Whether we consider Hesiod's Euterpe, muse of flutes and lyric poetry or Pausanias' Aoide (the muse of song), the muses with musical attributes are linked to poetry and sung text.
Nor are these Classical linkages simply a confusion that modernity sorted out;– the wrangling of of the Council of Trent, the monody of the Florentine camerata, the rise of instrumental music in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the synthesizing aspirations of Wagnerian gesamtkunstwerke show us not a gradual clarification, but a return again and again to this unresolvable tension and ineluctable linked between speech and music.
What this makes me think of, actually, is a different source from antiquity - the closing of Plato's Phaedrus, in particular the readings of the passage by Derrida and Ricoeur. There's a nice summary of the Derridean take [ here ], and for Ricoeur's take, it's probably just best to read Memory, History, Forgetting. Derrida expands Rousseau's notion of the supplement - it is that which comes to aid to something ‘primary’ or ‘original.' In this aiding, the supplement displays that which is absent from the original form.
What this makes me think of here is not that music is a supplement to speech or that speech is a supplement to music, but rather that the relationship seems to alternate, each becoming the supplement of the other. This transductive loop does not render the question of primacy moot, though it does become unanswerable; rather, the positioning and re-position of the two domains becomes generative, a source for next question, the next concert, the next work of music, and the next piece of verse. And this constant generation of new question seems very much what we do here at c)i.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Luigi Nono's string quartet Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima is in many ways about silence and introversion. The act of listening is heightened by the music's many long fermatas and silences, and by the many hushed but precisely shaded colors and timbres. Meanwhile, fragments of text by Hölderlin are meant to be read silently by the performers only. Amidst the quiet and contemplation, though, we find in rehearsal that there is a multitude of concrete details of sound and ensemble to be figured out! Intricate rhythms that combine and interlock amidst tempos that shift constantly, sometimes even a few times within a measure. Phrases that are shaped in rhythmic unison, pitches and colors that blend and match. Nono's distinctive, dark and energetic scrawl on the manuscript facsimile pages presents thickets of fermatas of varying lengths, tempo markings, tremolos, dynamics ranging from pppp to fff, extensive bowing instructions in Italian, Hölderlin text fragments in German...Lots of information, all distilled in performance into precise yet rough sounds, synchronized gestures and a string of poetic fragments provoking individual streams of thought.
It will be thrilling when all this contained introspection and the eerie metallic sound of this piece explodes after intermission into Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon, in which Lord Byron's text will boldly issue forth in the voice of Paula Robison, and we will fill the hall right from the start of the piece with rich, resonant harmonies, erupting energy and swaggering long phrases. Come and hear this great program and experience as the balance swerves between words and music, thought and expression!
Fuller program note on the Nono here: http://www.mirandacuckson.com/2012/02/27/ci-concert-march-4-nonos-string-quartet-and-schoenberg/
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I'd also like to share some things I've seen recently that seem relevant to our program:
Sometimes the words get in the way of my poetry.
…we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
These certainly got me thinking.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
On March 4, counter)induction will present "Where Words Leave Off...," a concert exploring the written word as inspiration for music. On this program we will perform Arnold Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, Op. 41, composed for string quartet, piano, and recitation.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, wrote his large-scale poetic work Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte in 1814, upon the ignominious abdication of that leader. His stanzas drip with sarcastic disappointment, castigating Napoleon's vanity and greed. Arnold Schoenberg took up Byron's work and composed his Ode during World War II, as a work of protest against that tyranny. In light of the Arab Spring and the continuing bloody struggles in Syria and Bahrain, the messages of Schoenberg's 1942 musical work, and of Byron's 1814 poem, seem distressingly contemporary.
I am so pleased that we are able to present this monumental work. If you don't know it, the poem can be found here.
We are especially fortunate to be joined by Paula Robison as reciter for this work. In addition to being a world-renowned flutist, she has given many critically acclaimed performances as reciter of of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. Meaning, hotter than hot. Join us for the free show - more info here.