In the mid-seventies, American musician John Zorn hosted a series of private performances in his own loft known as 'Theater of Musical Optics'. Following his interest in theater, these were 'silent' performances where musicians acted as puppeteers, manipulating a series of small 'found objects'. In his own words "It doesn't matter how long an object or a set is held for, or when you put them out, what matters is that they are and how they interlock."
This approach to performance is relevant in 'Procession' for its emphasis on organizing events, actions, as well as sound in a composition. The composer is akin to a film director organizing 'sound scenes' into a timeline. Given the different elements in 'Procession', it is important to develop a way of matching the sounds of musical instruments, objects (trolleys, plastic bells, etc), and the shuffling of feet. Finding a correlation between these is something I have been developed through sound design.
Hyogo, by Werner Dafeldecker
Dafeldecker's 'Hyogo' is based on the layout of a Buddhist temple in Japan. When interpreting the score, each player follows a specific line, or route, along 'stops' that indicate silences. Pauses are specified (30'', 50'' and 1'50''). Apart from that, the quality of sounds are left open, though they follow Dafeldecker's aesthetic of low volume. The focus on immersive listening includes environmental sounds (noises, disruptions of sounds, silences, etc); likewise, the language is devoid of any dramatic gesture or formal structures. Instead, it offers a strategy for listening and exploring sounds in the most minute and intimate way. Working in this way requires musicians with great sensibility for sonorities and experience working in open form. The idea of music that does not impinge on the listener, that is in relationship with the environment, is another aspect that appeals to me, specially for an outdoor performance, where it is key to be accepting of the environment. Strategies must be in place to focus the participant's attention, an option would be to have strategies 'attention' and openness to the space, as well as moments of playing pre-composed material.
Ryoanji (1983-1985) is a work derived from etchings and drawings of a stone garden in Kyoto, Cage drew the rocks to create pitch curves which are interpreted by a soloist (there are versions for oboe, flute and trombone of example); the piece contains a notate part for percussion, this grid-like component represents the racket sand of the garden. Thus sand and rock have their correspondence in these instruments. According to Pritchett (1996, p. 191) 'Cage made a piece which neither communicates nor expresses the image, but which is the image - it acts in the way that the image acts'. Like John Cage, I have begun to use objects for their sound qualities, following his 'let sounds be themselves'. In some of his works, Cage used buzzers, blenders, etc bridging the lines between the quotidian and the performative. In 4'33'' his focus was on highlighting the sounds of the environment, which is where I want to situate 'Procession', as a kind of interaction with randomness and control. A score like 'Ryoanji' favors a fluidity in the lines that could be useful in procession, instructions specifying the scale of pitches to play, the time to go from one to the others; even a kind of hocket structure could be established among the ensemble as lines pass from player to player. In many of his compositions, Cage used detailed structures and proportions to organise sounds whose quality was unknown, Williams (2002, p. 229) asserts that a score like 'Imaginary Landscape No 4', "produces sounds in space without providing a schema by which to understand them". The author suggests that in Cage music control system and unpredictable processes co-exist. Cage saw art as an experience, rather than as an object, many of his graphic scores demand creative decision making from performers, graphic scores according to Williams (2002, p.235) are appreciated by what they look like rather than standing for something else'
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!