in Performance Critiques, Sound

ps: Lea Bertucci at Death by Audio – 11 / 8 / 2012

ps: Lea, I’ve been meaning to write to you about your performance at Death by Audio on November 8th.

This is only the second time I’ve seen you peform solo — not that you were solo. You were playing with your computer: was the computer generative? Or just a recording? It seemed like a recorded loop that repeated a few times. (I found myself asking –what’s up with this soundtrack? ) You dropped all these little fragments of melody like breadcrumbs. And then we got to the middle of the labyrinth: the soundtrack sounded like overloaded tuning forks, and you played long long tones with it. I just wished you would do that longer! Because then the soundtrack repeated, and we were off in the labyrinth again, little bits of melody here and there — like you were trying out tunes and seeing if the room would sing back to you… but it was a recording. It couldn’t sing back. It could just keep on playing what it was playing.

There was sadness in your performance. Did you think so? But the sadness was creeping in, like you were sad, not like you were performing sadness. If you are going to keep performing solo, I think you should dive into this! Do you know the Greek myths of the origin of music? One has to do with a lyre, and the other has to do with a flute. (A double-reed flute called an aulos but for our purposes, let’s just say that it was a bass clarinet.) According to Murray Shafer:

In the first of these myths music arises as subjective emotion: in the second it arises with the discovery of the sonic properties in the materials of the universe. These are the cornerstones on which all subsequent theories of music are founded. Characteristically the lyre is the  instrument of Homer, of the [epic], of serene contemplation of the universe; while the aulos [or, bass clarinet] is the embodiment of exaltation and tragedy, the instrument of the dithyramb and drama. The lyre is the instrument of Apollo, the aulos [or, bass clarinet] that of the Dionysian festivals. In the Dionysian myth, music is conceived as internal sound breaking forth from the human breast; in the Apollonian it is external sound, God-sent to remind us of the harmony of the universe. In the Apollonian view, music is exact, serene, mathematical, associated with transcendental visions of utopia… It’s methods of exposition are number theories… In the Dionysian view music is irrational and subjective. It employs expressive devices: tempo fluctuations, dynamic shadings, tonal colorings. It is the music of the operatic stage… it is the musical expression of the romantic artist.

You play a reed pipe. You blow into it. You’re breath makes the sound. It comes from your breast. You’re feelings come out. You know all of this. But, do you know how to do it alone? Without another breast blowing back at you?


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