Archive for the ‘sound art’ Category

The End of Safari   Leave a comment

I found the info for the post below about Dante through Yvon Bonenfant’s website.

His delicious extended voice fantasy was part of Micah Silver’s sound installation at MAss MoCA’s Elegies exhibition 2010. Listen here.

Posted January 30, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in sound art

Rasas and Modes   Leave a comment

I’m starting to wonder if I can think of the composition of FW in terms of rasa theory. This Indian literary theory is expressed in the third century text, Natyasastra, which is ascribed to Bharatamuni (Indian Literary Criticism 3).  Rasa theory is only a small part of the Natyasastra, a compendium of performed arts: drama, music, dance (ibid). This is an extract from G.K. Bhatt’s 1975 English translation:

“On Natya and Rasa: Aestheics of Dramatic Experience

… The natya (in fact) is depiction and communication pertaining to the emotions of the entire triple world:

Occasionally piety, occasionally sport, occasionally wealth, occasionally peace of mind, occasionally laughter, occasionally fighting, occasionally sexual passion, occasionally slaughter;

the pious behaviour of those who practice religion, the passion of those who indulge in sexual pleasure, the repression of those who go by a wicked path, the act of self restrain of those who are disciplined… The eight rhetorical Sentiments (Rasas) recognised in drama and dramatic representation are named as follows: the Erotic, Comic, Pathetic, Furious, Heroic, Terrible, Odious, Marvelous” (4-5).

My plan is to finish these first recordings by the 2nd of February (Joyce’s birthday); and then start re-listening to them in order to annotate my text up at points where I find myself shifting to read with a particular rasa.

When I’ve done that, I’ll reconsider my hunch that there might be a montage of emotional modes in FW, somewhat akin to Sergei Eisenstein’s audiovisual diagrams that relate “the plastic element of movement and the movement of the music” in his films (Barber, A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology 178-179).

FW privileges soundscape over narrative. But, what I will call the “sound frames” of FW seem to modulate from one emotional state to another as I read. In fact the “sound frames” seem to function in a manner similar to musical modes.

I’ll explain what I mean about modes and emotions:

Today, the difference between major and minor, with a flattened third in the minor,  is the closest we have to modes in classical Western music. However, in the eleventh century there were eight medieval church modes, as a consequence of Boethius’s (480-524/26) and Guido’s ( 991- after 1033) treaties (A History of Western Music 27; 51). With Boethius compiling his treaties from earlier Greek sources including those of Nicomachus, Euclid, Aristoxenus, Pythagorus, and Ptolemy’s Harmonics (27).

As a result of such research, by the fifteenth century Marsillius Ficinus (1433-1499)  was not alone in believing that “music could alter the cognitive faculties of the soul, transform the passions and even privilege the communication of the spirit with the immaterial realties of the world soul” (Boccadoro, “Medicine, Mathematics and Music 105). However, it was he who related the eight medieval church modes, to their corresponding humours, colours and astral bodies, eg:

“Mixolydian (G-D-G) = Saturn = Melancholy = Opaque Colour of mud = Partially lascivious and gay

Phrygian (E-C-E) = Mars = Anger = Colour of Fire = Severe, excited, suited to choleric beings, elatis suberbis, asperis.” (118)

Now, this table reminds me of the Linati Schema for Ulysses…

And we’re the closest of chems   Leave a comment


Jaun as Haun

Last night I was listening to the CD accompanying the publication, Kunst zum Hören: Gesamtkunstwerk Expressionismus 1905-1925, by Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt; which in turn accompanies their current exhibition of the same name. I picked up this art book in Basel during the Christmas holidays. At the time I was feeling all enthused about Expressionism after visiting the Beyeler Foundation‘s Wien 1900 Klimt, Schiele und Ihre Zeit exhibition, especially as there was a gorgeous mock up Viennese café in the basement serving goulash and other delights.

Gastronomic considerations aside, the evolution of the Gesamtkunstwerk interests me because Herman Broch identifies Ulysses as having the qualities of a GKW in his 1932 lecture, James Joyce und die Gegenwart (JJ and the Present Day; The Reception of Joyce in Europe, 32). Broch and Joyce remained in contact as Joyce wrote FW, with Broch being the first Jew that Joyce helped to escape Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 (33).

I’d like to find out more about how/ if Joyce was influenced by the sound poetry associated with the expressionist and surrealist movements. The Kunst zum Hören CD starts with a poem by Egon Schiele, Ein Selbstbild (a self-portrait; 1910). A title that sounds right up Joyce’s street.

Please let me know if you’re aware of any references. Thanks!

“Sound and the haptic 2: a singing intestine”   Leave a comment

On October 28th, I posted about fart sounds on page 177.31 -177.33 of Finnegans Wake.

Well wouldn’t you just know, surfing around on Yvon Bonenfant’s website just now (Yvon is friend and vocal artist who I already posted about today) I found an article of his titled: Sound, touch, the felt body and emotion: Toward a haptic art of voice.

In the section “sound and the haptic 2: a singing intestine” he writes:

“At a certain point in my life I decided to become a client in body psychotherapy… After a couple of years trying out one technique, I moved cities, and heard about this strange new psychotherapy technique that somehow involved electronically amplifying the intestines. I decided to try it … I had had intestinal irritation in my teens and thought, well, what the hell. The first experience of hearing my intestines was astonishing, indeed delightful. I had been involved in avant-garde improvisation training in music, searching for spontaneity in sound, and here it was: ringing in my own belly. An intestine filled with orchestras of sound. An amplified stethoscope head captured the sound and broadcast it over speakers. But most intriguingly, these sounds had appeared and increased due to a special kind of touch being used on my body by the practitioner. The touch was called biodynamic massage3, but it was completely unlike any other ‘massage’ I had heard of or tried. It was ultra-light, practiced overtop of clothing on unthreatening parts of the body (the top of the head, around the eyebrows, the fingertips, the toes) and the touch qualities used were butterfly-like: delicate, precise, rhythmic, patterned, almost like brushing gently against the most superficial layers of the skin rather than ‘rubbing’ or ‘kneading’ it. It was a practice of interaction with the most superficial layers of dermal membrane. The more the touch was used, the more sound my intestines made. I fell into a sort of dream state, seeing images, feeling things come together, and I talked about them.”

Later Yvon cites the work of the French psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu, to propose that:

“Voice is not only a haptic stimulus, soliciting our engagement and active reaction; Anzieu’s theories mean that engaging with the body through vocal art also targets our very ability to engage with others in the development of a space of vocal exchange that interacts with and stimulates our skin, helping reinforce our identity, and that resonates backwards to our earliest experiences of vulnerability and relationship. This means that the touch of voice – like the touch of skin – is a touch that moves beyond the present to stimulate unconscious notions about how we learned about relationship.”

My goodness, and Finnegans Wake is so, so voiced!

“Bonenfant singing onto and touching silk  during Soie soyeuse”

Photo: Caroline Mercier, Galerie Talmart,  Paris 2008

Posted November 5, 2010 by R.H.H. Nisbet in psychology (pleasure), sound art

Irish accents   Leave a comment

I don’t have one. I’m from Cumbria. But, I had the chance to do 6 weeks of voice workshops in the company of Dublin voice over artiste Fiona Browne. I have her in mind (at least) when I’m speaking. Click her name to hear a gorgeous Irish accent!

….Or click here for more ;°)

Betsy Allen, and Yvon Bonenfant (who currently teaches at Winchester University), are two other vocal artists I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with in a series of voice workshops. If you have time, please watch the Soie Soyeuse performance video on Yvon’s website, to encounter some of his awesome night voices.

Posted November 5, 2010 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Finnegans Wake Audio Recording, sound art