In The Forum III
Proclos: Why, my dear Sympnoia, should we be attempting this long investigation into Time and Sound, especially now, "when music has become almost arbitrary and composers refuse to be bound by any rules and principles, detesting the very name or idea of school and adherence to such, loathing these like death itself. We cannot hope to call back composers from the unrestrained insanity of their writing to normal standards. With this work let our object then be to give to those without such a position a starting point" [NB] from which to continually begin, to begin again ad libitum and begin yet again ad infinitum. What would be your thoughts towards this endeavor?
Sympnoia: This is precisely the reason I have sought you out, to understand the workings and manner of the operations of sound and time, knowing full well this is beyond a lifetime’s pursuit…but then what better time to begin than at the beginning of this present time.
Pro: Ah, my illustrious and industrious fellow-traveller, this was just the measure of thought I was hoping to hear from you. And you have rasied a very sound point about our studies: sound and time. But just as you have, I have mixed them up in our initial and earlier forums…for Time is that with which we must continually begin, which is the Prime Cause of all other effects and following causes.
Sym: And so let us. Let us look into the matter now.
Pro: And so we shall. Let us imagine 6 different performers, in 6 different areas of the world, 6 different time zones, 6 different musical histories/trajectories/concepts/concerns…but ALL operating within the same manner and progression of Time, though each moving through the primary Time as individuals.
Sym: Yes, this is easily imagined, as perhaps would even happen within the choice of any 6 musicians anywhere! Even in the same room!
Pro: Precisely and expertly analysed….for what is there different between separate time zones or separate spaces 3 feet distant? Then let us continue, and ask how would these 6 come together? How and perhaps in what manner of operation?
Sym: Would these 6 then be in some kind of agreement or shared understanding of method or practice?
Pro: Not necessarily. They could easily and naturally have 6 different practices, 6 different sets of collective sound production, 6 different references as to their organization of time….all this and every other aspect would be divisible by their 6 individual selves…..they would only be in agreement about the manner and duration of their Time of playing together, and that their sub-divisions of time would be both individually and chance-determined.
Sym: So then, how could these 6, so divided and individualized and separate, how could these 6 ever come together?
Pro: This point is well-taken, as seemingly they could always be at odds and at wit’s end as to any type or method or manner of being together…..
Sym: Yet, I sense in you, my teacher and Trice-Great Successor, that there is a way…..
Pro: How true and indeed how self-evident is this? The manner of operation is removed from the 6 egos, and is relegated to non-ego, non-intentional methods of assembling materials, which still calls on the 6 to bring into their collection ALL that they have gained and gleaned from their individual histories and sound experiences...in fact, this is the whole point and effort is such a coming together.
Sym: How ever would this proceed??
Pro: Here is the visual representaion of a work in process, which has been defined as being 5 minutes in duration - total time in minutes, which was mutually agreed by all participants but which could change to fit any program or performance requirement. The collaborators have also determined that they will create 6 sonic materials for the 6 EVENTS (the number of events between which this PATCH4 will randomly choose), and the minimum duration for each EVENT will last minimally 5 seconds, and the maximum duration will be 30 seconds. At the 17 second moment in this realization, one performer will play their EVENT6 material for 28 seconds, another will play EVENT4 material for 15 seconds, and yet another performer will play EVENT3 material for 20 seconds. There might be 3 or more performers realizing this work, and combining their EVENT material in such a way.
Sym: But how can you know how these elements will combine, if these EVENT materials will go together or not, or be able to sustain their time durations?
Pro: This is precisely the point….we nor they can pre-determine the outcome. They and we must be open to the results. We must see that this method or manner of operation is a form of “hiding the universe within the universe”.
Sym: And must this be for sound making collaborators only?
Pro: Absolutely not! This manner of Time-divided collaboration could be realized by any time-based performer. Such as asking 1 (or 3, or 6, or….) of the following or any combinations thereof (some possible examples are given, and each musician as well as each dancer would design their own Materials and assign their own number to each):
Musician – 6 musical events, distinct and variable from within; one event = silence
[ for example: 1=long soft tone freely choosen; 2=aperiodic noise; 3=any repeated rhythmic cell; 4=3-pitches played in atemporal succession; 5=polka at fixed tempo; 6=silence]
Dancer – 6 movement events, distinct and variable from within; one event = silence [how is “silence” shown through movement?]
Lighting – 6 lighting plot events; some distinct, some stable/some variable from within; one event = silence [how is “silence” shown through light?]
Costume – 6 different additions to existing unitard; stocking cap (head), pre-tied necktie (neck), scrunchy (left thigh); scarf (right wrist); black gaff tape applied (torso/back); 1 event = silence [how is “silence” shown through costume?] = removal of one item
Set/Decor – six different stage alterations; bowling ball (rolled across upstage L to R); placing wine-bottle drying rack – thank you Marcel; rolling on a white board w/ or w/o words written; unrolling a fabric across back wall (pre-fixed on one side and then fixed at the other); placing chair downstage R facing audience; 1 event = silence [how is “silence” shown through set/decor?] = removal of one item
Pro: Or have them create their own system within this system to operate, following the PATCH4 model of overall time-duration; sub-division of minimum/maximum durations of EVENTS, and number of possible EVENT materials, as illustrated above, and also which can be found HERE for those who'd like to explore this in performance, and HERE for those who wish to explore using MAX.
Sym: Most perplexing and unfathomable, yet I want to try this and experience both the creation and the results of same.
Pro: And so you can, thus…6 sound artists in 3 different locations in 2 different time zones!
NB [from the foreward of Johann Joseph Fux "Gradus ad Parnassum"]