"River of thoughts - to think is already to sound..." (Essays Collection)
Night's gaze penetrated into the smooth skin of river and sky turning all into one impenetrable mass of darkness. Clouds, hidden stars and the coolness of the water, being invisible, became a single perception. It seemed that we were swimming in the unmeasurable depths of infinity.
Swimming without direction, without the appearance and heaviness of an earthly body, embracing the nothingness within us, have we not become especially close to un- existence ? A resonating response that came from deep within our souls filled us with a powerful feeling of having experienced something beyond the limits of our hearing...It was the sounds of a musical instrument playing which doesn't exist and which will never be created.
THE UN-EXISTING INSTRUMENT
This instrument that doesn't exist doesn't have its own strings which are capable to touch your soul's strings which are overstretched by nerves and ready in any moment to burst. This instrument that doesn't exist doesn't respond in any way to your mind's mood and it can't replace any tranquilizer that you might take.
This instrument will not sing for the glory of your country's flag. It will not trumpet battle signals to soldiers fighting in wars. It will not strum chords when people are singing around camp fires. Even flocks of sheep will not follow its un-existing sound.
Anybody can boast that they are capable to play this instrument. The un-existing instrument doesn't require any performance skills, any capacity to read music, any musical ear, or other musical cleverness; to put it simply, no ears at all are necessary. It makes unnecessary to attend conservatories or other musical schools, democratizing all social classes' access to this instrument.
This instrument doesn't consider human possibilities. It has no limitations of ambitus, intensity, duration, timbre and other musical parameters because there is nothing in it that can be limited.
This instrument is the only one which will not cause problems with your neighbors. Also, it doesn't need constant care or to be replaced when it becomes worn out. Buying musical or technical accessories as well as paying for an extra seat for it in an airplane are also unnecessary. People who wish to make a career out of repairing this instrument are condemned to be unemployed.
This instrument is completely indifferent to being played in a space with bad acoustics. Also, it will not react to amplification and all contemporary electro-acoustic technologies will be obliged to admit the impotence of their attempts to transform the sound of this instrument.
This instrument will never enter into the family of traditional musical instruments. Also, it will not enter into the history of instrument building, into learned treatises of
orchestration, or other musical subjects. If we come back to students enrolled in conservatories or other musical schools, we may safely say that such an instrument will never become a reason for students to worry while taking their final exams. Since no student will fail, no tears of mothers will be shed and they will not need to convince the professor of their children's un-existing talents.
This instrument which is never discordant, even the first day one plays it, evokes no feelings of discordance in others as do existing instruments.
This instrument has no worth and neither does its potential professional performer.
As time goes on, such an instrument will never transform into an
"original instrument" whose age and rarity would give rise to a huge price on the international auction block.
On Internet, you will never find an untouched photo of this un-existent instrument and you will never be able to download any authentic audio files of it. You should consider yourself lucky if you could find in any search engine that would reference even this article. Of course, finding this text on Internet wouldn't add or subtract anything from your knowledge of this un-existing instrument or of this very article that has just been finished.
My river, sunrise of my desires and beginning of the day, to which far away distances will you send your rippling rubies and beams of golden sun ? What unknown destination for your roaming river banks ? Teach us humans to escape from, our senseless turning round and round in the whirlpools wherein we deeply drown.
Seeking answers in your mysterious waves, scientists pour your sacred river waters into cold glass tubes leaving them with no life...There will come a day when the heart of the earth will shake so hard that the world will rid itself of human chains. Then, fresh waters will again flow freely with fractured glass, merging into a new river of life...
THE POTENTIAL "NEW"
Is there any potential "newness" left in contemporary music or is this possibility now completely exhausted ? If this is the case, might we not write on each failed attempt to produce something fresh "it is not new" ? Or, have we been simply thrown into a situation of not being able to recognize what is really new as new because of the over use of the word and a misrepresentation of "newness" itself ?
The variety of complex reactions as to what is "new" (a variety that ranges from the new
as "banal" to "ideal" ) are interesting already in that those opinions seem to exist well before any such "novelty" might even appear on the future horizon . The new is not there yet, but we claim to already know everything about it. We seem to be saying : "You shouldn't speak to us about novelty." Such a thinking to have knowledge without any actual external source for that knowledge is amazingly stable
and consistent in the situation we are describing. The appearance of the genuinely new, if we assume that such a thing is possible, no longer functions as a source of discovery or as a stimulation for the sensation of novelty for our cognition, etc. The use of the "new" has now been downgraded to a mere psychological motivation technique that is used to make people feel good about themselves. The function of the new itself has been reduced to a little mechanical echo, a tiny squeak that resounds faintly and effectively while the great wheel of history turns. Each successive "squeak" of the wheel requires a gradual technical upgrade. Nobody wants that this imaginary wheel of history would stop; therefore, novelty as a kind of oil or lubricant must assist persistent turning and overturning when revolution happens. By the way, it is possible that the wheel has already overturned itself and has ground all new grains into one flour.
The mother sees how the child who is playing with flour invents something and
that he is glad about his new discovery. He points with his finger to a new white country that he has found. The mother who warmly supports her own child can't escape from her own world, the one where one only reinvents the wheel over and over, and so she can't believe that something new and unique was really created by her child . She is used to think that such events as a first step, a first spoken word, a first readable phrase, etc. are not global entrances into historical novelty, but merely steps in the development of the child. When the child becomes grown up, his parents stop supporting him in the task of "reinventing the wheel" and already they say that it has no sense. The wheel is already there, no need to reinvent it ; now, you must work. This is the way to become an adult.
Since the word "novelty" has been rubbed clean of all sense and has lost all its past resonances, we are genuinely unprepared for an encounter with the new. In the case of such an encounter, there is a moment when we lose our previous conviction "I know what the new is" and there then appears some kind of other feelings. In the case of contemporary music, "unpreparedness" for the new can be described as a most typical part and symptom of that music. Unpreparedness is already a certain color of sound and distance between what is played, who is playing, and who is listening. Unpreparedness is symbolically inscribed in today's Score. "I am always ready to earn money, but I am not ready at all to perform this music" (the sickness of many musicians today). The contemporary era doesn't understand itself. Escaping poorly prepared premieres, the public either actually leaves the concert hall or mentally they have already gone far away long before the end of the concert.
We are running to the new when, for us, it is not new anymore. If we are not prepared
for the new, we criticize it for its qualities of novelty. Which are these qualities ? In this case, the "new" appears to us as that which disappoints our already existing expectations that have come from experiencing the old. As a bad surprise, the new appears as a mockery of what is common and what we are used to.
Maybe, the problem is the excessive quantity of novelty in that which pretends to be absolutely new; in other words, for a certain public, there is always too much "new" in such presentations compared to what might be called the "insufficiently" new. This latter type of presentation, because it is often a "compromise" between the old and the new, brings very little that is genuinely new, but it never disappoints expectations as much as the "absolutely" new because old expectations are mostly satisfied. An example of this type of public presentation can be TV news.
Why ,actually, does the new not exist as such in physical space, but only as a kind of quality that is squeezed from those with talent ? Why is the fact that I am a unique person who was born in a certain time and who has his own unique experience, context, and special way to look at things not sufficient in order to be a creator of that which is obviously "new" ? Does the "new" itself use us as a kind of tool or instrument ? In addition, an incomplete variant of creating something new can be the simple act of "naming" something to be new which plays with the memory of persons, trying to say to them that, if they can't remember as previously existing what is now named as "new", that this must be a proof of novelty in itself. If by chance, they remember something, that something does come to their mind, then it is still not the same. It was a long time ago and so it's not true what they claim to remember.
If we speak about faith in the new as something naive and based on a kind of ignorance, then, we are not far from the Truth. The "New" is something which doesn't exist yet; it is literally impossible in the present time. It is a searching for what is not there yet, a desire for what is unknown to us. It is an imaginary that is unachievable. It is as naive as claiming to reinvent the wheel. It is something that intends to be for new ears. It is something which is ever left on the level of being only a potential.
Letters combine and go one after another, but it seems that this text can't appear. In any case, it could not be heard over the ever so loud noise of the river which has achieved in this moment its apogee of intensity...
Peak ? When exactly did the water's noise become so strong that we found ourselves unable to speak ? Is it the moment that the river went over its highest falls ? The time has come for the fall of the seething world.
Before this, the panic was rehearsed too carefully and ,therefore, it didn't take place. We just sighed and said: "Alright, this world has fallen. Let's look for another one."
-- Look at this piece only at night time while gazing at the stars. No one can count the exact quantity of note-planets. Listen attentively to the sonority of each planet. Find the wholeness of its vibration instead of the flat squeak that you were taught.
-- Cast aside "canned music" standards and transform yourself so that you may really listen well to this "live" music. Such a music changes with your every glance and each flashing moon beam. Read this score every time as if it were brand new. Pay special attention to the shooting stars which appear and disappear relatively fast.
--Be ready to perform this music in a wide open space during the night while having your orientation only by the stars. Don't try to turn the pages of your life's paperwork in the dark. The habitual rustle of such papers only gives life when thrown in fire's flames.
--If you enter with a musical theme, then the response should be expected from another part of the universe. Don't imitate this answer if nothing sounded. It is not in your capacities to give answers to all.
--Does your inner harmony coincide with the harmony of the spheres that you played ? Did you find harmony within yourself ? If not, what are you playing then ?
--Gather falling stars during the process of performance. Don't be squeamish about executing such dusty work.
--If the moon is full, don't play it. Close your eyes. Silence over time is better than the howl of a crazy beast.
--Turn off in yourself all that made your playing to be mechanical and which turned your musical interpretations into mere technique. Give back this iron garbage to materialists who crashed and who are now asking for alms at the entry gates.
--Try to avoid any interruptions in the performance of this piece in order that the universe suddenly doesn't stop. Breathe deeply in the moments of rest and continue playing this music with your body and your spirit.
--Remember that it is not you who establishes the limit between the possible and the impossible.
--Forget about yourself and this notation. Concentrate on the will power of the Universe.
--Don't start and don't finish this piece. Be born with it and follow it until your death.
Probably, this was the song of the river, a song without words and without notes, a song of absent dimension in our system of coordinates...
Somebody went to the edge of the bridge which is situated to the right of us and threw down into the river some kind of paper roll. On the visible part of this crumpled paper, staff lines were compressed into a fist.
What was that score ?
We came to the person on the bridge who we recognized thanks to photos printed in newspapers and on Internet.
"Hello Mr. Performer !" Saying it, we were in a hurry to shake his hand, but it transformed into the same fist shape as was on the crumpled score paper.
"You took the wrong notes and chose an incorrect tone.", he said drily.
"Why do you say that ?" We were surprised, but then we became more courageous due to our seeming offensiveness. Then, we added: "Do you always play so perfectly ?"
"I don't play anymore." He cut the conversation quickly and then added: "Don't you play with me. Let's be done with this foolishness."
After this, he turned to the other side, went down the bridge, and it was impossible to stop or to catch up with this "performer".
THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF THE PERFORMER
The first impossibility is as a necessary consequence of the appearance of the performer as such because of the impossibility of a musical composition of a certain type to sound all by itself. It is impossible to not have this function of mediation which the performer represents without creating very often a kind of misrepresentation of the musical piece and yet it seems impossible to avoid the necessity of the performer as such a mediator.
Also, if we speak about the traditional division of composer and performer as two different persons, then we collide directly with the impossibility of the performer also being the creator of what he is playing. Despite the strong desire of some performers to be a co-creator with the composer, someone who has the right to make changes, his own
interpretations and even certain experiments with the composer's score, the rigid difference between composer and performer is mostly still maintained. Through which limits must the performer pass over in order to have his name signed instead of the composer? These limits are the limits of the impossible.
Continuing this theme about the division of roles, we can also mention that the world of the performer is the world of an Other, a world which is primordially foreign to creators. There is always something which the performer doesn't have access to and what is kept at a certain distance. The performer can't come closer than the composer allows.
Now, we come to the impossibility to play a certain composition. It is what the performer can't confess. Otherwise, he stops being a performer. Music is a sphere beyond all limits. Performers are limited physically, have problems managing their rehearsal time, are limited by needing to earn their material necessities. The performer, is polluted by his environment and ,for him, the entrance to the unlimited in music is the sphere of the impossible.
One more impossibility for the performer is to be hidden or to hide himself. Instead of this, the performer does the opposite, that is, he shows himself, promotes his name, his body, his instrument, his virtuosity, his sexuality, etc. Being anonymous allows the performer to hide his name, but it's not a solution for all the rest of the problems which were mentioned above.
The next impossibility is connected with the involvement of the performer in getting over the many conflicts that he is involved in. The situation of conflict is to be found "in-between", that is, in-between the performer and the public, in-between the performer and the creator, in-between the performer and the score (it is not the same with regard to the creator himself), in-between the performer and the stage and in-between the performer and that music which can't be made to sound properly. The impossibility of liberation from all these "in-betweens" is what accompanies the performer's many conflicts despite all the many efforts the performer makes to get through them.
In the moment of performance, here and now, we observe the impossibility of the performer to play any differently. What does it mean that it must be like that ? Exactly in this minute we see one musical action taking place instead of a thousand possible other ones and all these other possible musical actions disappear without ever becoming real. The performer plays today like this because this piano, this acoustic, this weather, this mood, are all combined together in a very specific way. He can't play today any differently, even if he wants too.
If we now approach all of this from another point of view, then we notice that within the context of an existing musical system, whatever the performer plays must be called music. The performer can't play "not-music" (somebody will always declare it to be
music). He can't play un-existing and un-written pieces or other musical compositions which will appear in the future or which were completely lost in the past. The performer lives in the impossibility of getting over the various "in-betweens" which were described before and all of these are dependent on the system of historical preservation of musical works.
Now, since we started to speak about music history, and the music that has been preserved, we can't not mention the problem of music's abundance, its surplus. In other words, the performer can't possibly play all the music that has been already written and or which is being written in this very moment. This impossibility to play all brings about as a consequence a selection process for musical pieces. The result of which pieces have been chosen is as a consequence of a performer's choice. It is he who selected the work to be played. So, the existence of a piece of music to be played by a performer is not in a relation of direct necessity that this music should sound, but it comes as a secondary consequence of the mechanism of the performer's selection process.
Another machine, another mechanism which passes through the performer himself , is a social mechanism which is close to sado-masochism. If the performer, instead of playing a musical composition as it was written, presents a piece that has not been completely learned, that is half-read, that is half-improvised ,in this case, he gives a performance that is far from the real composition that was written by the composer. If he keeps in the program the name of the creator and the title of the original piece, then an element of sadism, an element of murder of the piece, is not possible to deny. The performer even can be quite happy with himself, but the creator suffers.
If the performer does the opposite, if he really cares very much to achieve perfection in a performance, then, he is obliged to pass through a huge quantity of imperfections while rehearsing starting with banal learning, making himself and his ears suffer with this process of correcting his infinite imperfections. His desire for perfection can't be completely achieved. Of course, the performer's masochism in this case is one more extreme example, but describing the process of infinite rehearsals that the performer seeking perfection inflicts on himself reflects the problem of another type of impossibility.
We should say that the unity of creator and performer as one person doesn't solve the impossibilities that were mentioned above and even adds new ones. The creator in this moment and the creator "n" years ago ,when he wrote the piece, is not the same person. The world of an Other impossible to reach also takes place here as well, even if it is of a special type or relation. The creator can't play on stage many parts simultaneously, as if he were 8 persons. The creator can't learn all instruments with the same quality and level of playing. The creator can't change his own voice, etc. Finally, the creator and the performer need each other. There is an impossible connection between them of what
can't be connected. This connection exists despite all the impossibilities that were previously mentioned.
We were looking for a long time at the anxiety of the river whose waves raged chaotically side to side until ,on the river bank, what remained of a paper roll score washed up.
At the same time, we attempted to satisfy our natural curiosity but then the wet paper started to dissolve. Nonetheless, we still had time to notice certain obscenities scribbled below the score. We looked aside.
"The score is anti-music.", I said all of a sudden.
Of course, such a statement can lead to infinite disagreements, but ,quite soon, the discussion between us quieted, as though it were a wind quickly calming down.
I continued my thought in a monologue: "It is not written in the score how to play music just as it is not written in our birth certificates how exactly we were born and what it means to have been born. Technical details ,most of them formal and bureaucratic, have become the lot of professional creators today."
In this moment, the last traces of wet pieces of score dissolved and buried themselves in trampled down sand.
THE SCORE AS A SUBJECT FOR ANALYSIS
The score gives to us a set of measurable parameters (pitch, duration, dynamics, etc.), but ,at the same time, it doesn't give us what we are actually measuring, that is, the music itself.
Music exists quasi-separately, on its own, independently from the score. A score doesn't change because of numerous people's mistakes who try to play the notes, because of "free interpretations" of that score, or even when the music is played very badly in an inappropriate context.
We should ask then what the connection is between the music and the score. Why do we think that music can be measured at all ? Why do we think that if we tear music out from its real existence, that imprecise time and space where music floats freely in the air, that we can authoritatively point to a specific beginning and to a precise end of a piece of music?
Before writing it in a linear-graphic-measured score, music already exists. Music is
already in the air; it is "caught" by someone. It can be found inside the imagination of someone in a concentrated volume. It seems that music gives itself all at once and only after do questions appear about how to focus on certain moments of the music, about the division of musical elements, and all of this requires time and effort. In this case, the score is already an extended, undeciphered musical time. The score is unfolded and uncovered as a plan or map with many musical details and their gradual development over time. This score is already, in one way or another, a stretched variant of musical time which exists side by side with other contemporary technologies of measuring and recording.
What is then the reason to write a score if music exists without it? The reason is directly connected to a belief or faith that music can be repeated and that a generally accepted method of writing the score provides this possibility of musical repetition with a preservation of the same title of the composition. The foundation of this attempt at musical consistency is a faith or belief in an author's rights and in the possibility of more or less exact repetition of that which was written down by composers in their scores.
As far as practice is concerned, it is rather illusory; it corresponds to what we discussed before, that is, the difficulty of music being able to be repeated at all. Very often, the music which sounds has a very indirect relation to what was written. Sometimes, what sounds doesn't have any relation to what was written at all. Besides, many pieces are performed only one time. In this case, we can't speak about recognizable repetitions, and the conditions for first performances are rather close to improvisation which doesn't repeat at all out of principle. But, even if we speak as though "repetitions" could happen in music, then, probably, we should ,partially or completely, change the title of the piece. Like a river of sound ever changing, we agree that we never hear the same music twice, rather than pretending that each time we hear the same thing.
We should admit that every time there is another result from deciphering the same score. There is always another manner of sounding in another space, with another breath and beating of heart, shaped with other thoughts, other inner speeds, times and interactions with new people that are sitting in the hall. Different publics are not anonymous and equivalent heads and ears, but are active and individual participants in the process of listening. In this case, we must focus our attention on the un-repetitiveness of music as its essential life quality, but not on the potential repetition shown in the score's exact measurements which have become ,in essence, objects of musical technique and which have transformed music into a reproducible product. Besides the above mentioned repetitions, the existence of the score is the reason for certain musical habits which have created musical routines which include practically inaudible sounds and invisible actions. Nonetheless, these sounds and actions have an influence on us. The score (music) can fold and unfold, has linear structure, constantly demonstrates itself in the format of paper material which we periodically touch with fingers. In other words, you
can really touch the music in such a way and in different cases, randomly or on purpose, you can tear it apart, burn it, etc. The white background color is printed on the eyes of musicians. You must focus on the black signs, following from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. The rustle of the turning page, the unintentional knocking of the music stand, the squeaking of the musician's chair. The list of almost inaudible sounds and invisible actions could be extended .
Why exactly do these musical habits serve as some kind of background for musicians and not others ? What influence do they have on the fact that ,when we look at the score, we think that we "see" the music ? The question is what do we "see" indeed...
The score could be presented to us as a musical book if we really thought that we could read it. Yes, the score, like any typical book, also requires reading skills. You can turn its pages and in so doing you go to another world, being there, changing speeds of reading, reflecting and sometimes stopping to look at certain score elements. You can read silently and listen to the music inside you.
If we could imagine ourselves in a society with exceptionally developed musical ears where each of us could read scores with the same ease as we read ordinary books of any genre, then it would be more probable that the realization of scores made possible by the participation of performers would become a secondary matter. In the current situation, scores exist mainly as audio books (CDs of live or studio recordings). Like with all "audio books", a mediator (performer) is necessary. Since a society with highly developed musical ears hasn't appeared yet, recorded versions of scores, realized in the same CD format as audio books, represent almost the only musical life for scores and any discussion of the subject of the music contained in such scores must rely
,unfortunately, primarily on these recordings.