Even if without a traditional plot, the movie contains elements that are both within and outside (commenting on) the story – diegetic and exegetic elements – between which the viewer attempts to differentiate.
So does the listener to a recording or at an acousmatic ‘performance’.
Two frequencies added. Each of them. Their total. Their difference.
All audible, whether between two violins slightly out of tune with each other or between more complex, harmonic textures that change slowly over time:
Now it is not the perceived commencing journey that is interesting,
– harmonic direction back towards its starting place –
but the shifting, restless sonic moment.
to replace the idea of music as a ‘thing’, with the truer idea of an attempt at reconjuring fleeting dreams or visions,
such that a musical composition becomes less an isolated artefact and more a sensory element of the place it is encountered,
just as the noises of a building, street or seashore cave characterise our sense and memory of it, then…..
transcending the ritualised offerings of music as ‘things’, with a social job to do, a message to impart,
as has existed in the concert hall and church setting for centuries,
may finally in some senses be achieved.
– be that reproductive of an entire illusion or a construct of recording –
headphone-audition offers a more believable experience than speaker arrays and can be used to create a more illusory boundary between environmental noise and the deliberate contents of the sonic artefact.
“Yes, but what the hell happened to art that makes sense, tells a recognisable tale that we can discuss as though it were an object covered in symbols whose meaning is widely agreed?”,
I have some difficult news.
In Hervé Vanel’s study on John Cage and Muzak, or what French composer Eric Satie advocated in the 1920s as ‘furniture music’,
he refers to Lev Thermin’s 1919 electronic musical instrument, the Theremin.
(A recent resurgence in interest in the Theremin after a period of oblivion, accompanies the accelerated development of digital musical interfaces like the Eigenharp and the Håken Continuum)
Implicit is the futility of finding a new means of sound production if it is only to be used for making “old” sorts of sounds.
“the new musical apparatus I envisage, able to emit sounds of any number of frequencies, will extend the limits of the lowest and highest registers, hence new organizations of the vertical resultants: chords, their arrangements, their spacings, that is, their oxygenation.
Not only will the harmonic possibilities of the overtones be revealed in all their splendor but the use of certain interferences created by the partials will represent an appreciable contribution.
The never before thought of use of the inferior resultants and of the differential and additional sounds may also be expected. An entirely new magic of sound!
I am sure that the time will come when the composer, after he has graphically realized his score, will see this score automatically put on a machine, which will faithfully transmit the musical content to the listener.”
We have new, magical tools whose affordances for sonic production we are still learning to match – whether due to ability or willingness – with new, magical thinking.
To sound ourselves in languages entirely different from those we have ever spoken.
– that automata could be well enough instructed to deliver, without intervention, ‘soundscapes’ whose richness of expression equals or surpasses the possibilities of acoustic performance –
could neither anticipate the dependence of users on ‘plugins’ to “re-humanise” an entirely quantised sound.
Just as an aside – it seems so counter-intuitive to first input uniform sound data then use automation to make it seem human, an embodiment of some notion that two machine processes can equate to one human one?
– and yet celebration of the tools themselves seems to take precedence over using them to do something,
at once enough of a continuation of extant practice to be a recognisably communicative form,
and yet to make a promising departure from it. . . .
The complex arts of simulating human agency in things at once physiologically or cognitively impossible and yet plausible – these are my obsessions.
– not only as it widely is, of creating new ‘unrealities’ but –
of extending the plausible yet impossible.
Of permitting what Bach and Scriabin could only imagine but never dare to transcribe for fear that it was inaudible to all but them.
Varèse speaks from an age of detailed, manual craft,
with a vision of the same application, of commitment, to its implementation through tools then unavailable;
he cannot foresee the cultural changes, or absence of them in music composition that will eventually be engendered by these tools.
Maybe it’s that they are still just too new to us and the new digital instruments are still in their infancy;
but as he foresaw, we are already finding it
“necessary to abandon staff notation and to use a kind of seismographic writing much like the early ideographic writing originally used for the voice before the development of staff notation.
Formerly the curves of the musical line indicated the melodic fluctuations of the voice, today the machine-instrument requires precise design indications.”