Lecture 4 : Sociality of sound

 In 2016, Berlin, bicycle instrument, Development, Professorship

10am. Studio 1. Audio Communications Group, 3rd floor, TU Berlin. Gemma Corradi Fiumara writes, “Our philosophy is grounded in only half a language, in which the power of discourse is deployed whilst the strength of listening is ignored. We inhabit a culture that knows how to speak but not how to listen….”  Philosopher Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon asks, “..did Plato have a philosophy of listening, and if so, what was it? Listening is the counterpart of speaking in a dialogue, and is no less important. Learning from a dialogue is less likely to occur unless listening as well as speaking takes place.”

Lecture 4. Sociality of Sound.
Digging back into the classical past of experimental music making from the 40’s and 50’s, I’m presenting the electroacoustic work of Pierre Schaeffer(musique concrète) and GRM alongside the same time work across the Atlantic of John Cage. Schaeffer making music as object played in the dark void of familiar contexts and performer yet creating new ones, and Cage presenting live performers following a set of instructions in a space with an audience to witness the happening, the every day actuality of it being vital for the experience. Schaeffer’s music presented as a fixed object of new sound made through recordings, Cage’s events being always different with an increased focus on new composition systems created by chance. Both approaches though requiring focused and reduced listening to experience.

We listen to different versions of “Wonderful widow of 18 springs”(Cage), (with and without video), ” “Imaginary Landscapes no1″(Cage) with video,”Etude de Bruits” & “Etude aux objets” (Schaeffer) closing with “La Création du Monde”(Parmiagani) to exemplify. I confess to streaming the last piece off You Tube and through the studio’s 12 channel Meyer rig, it sounds great plus we can hear its motion. Impressed with streaming capabilities of YTube.

We also discuss what we found from spending 2 weeks listening for 10 minutes every day, writing down what we heard and the experience of no headphones. Responses varied. Some really focused on the task by listening for big sounds that were interesting, consequently always thinking and not really listening at all. Others found the breadth of the landscape they could hear widening. The projector in the studio is also sickeningly loud. We sit and listen to it for 3 mins and it blocks everything out, transforming itself into deep blue layers of shifting, cycling rhythms.

Good to be revisiting these thoughts after all this time. Even better to be doing it with minds of such different approaches.

(image: yesterday, the now empty runway-ed Templehof.  Sounds spread as beach by wind in sun )

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