Nicolas Collins . A Call for Silence

A Call for Silence

Recordings some of Luigi Nono’s works for similar resources such as Contrappunto dialettico alla mente. Here, however, the emphasis is neither on absorbing, incorporating, and transcending the detritus of global communication as in Stockhausen, nor on using radical musical means to articulate radical socialist politics as in Nono, but on the creation of a nightmarish sonic landscape whose inhabitants leer and convulse like Bosch’s demons. Strepidus Somnus forms a disturbing conclusion to a program which is never less than thought-provoking, and which deserves to bring Mr. Doornbusch’s work to the attention of a wider audience. There are not so many composers at work, even in the 21st century, even after the example of Xenakis, whose commitment to the technical possibilities afforded by contemporary technology is so closely matched by a compulsion to exploit to the full the expressive potential unleashed thereby. Nicholas Collins, Curator: A Call for Silence Compact disc, 2004; Sonic Arts Network, The Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London SE1 0LN, UK; telephone (+44) 20-7928-7337; fax (+44) 20-7928-7338; electronic mail david@sonicartsnetwork.org; Web www.sonicartsnetwork.org/. Reviewed by James Bohn New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA A Call for Silence (released in February of 2004 by the Sonic Arts Network), curated by Nicholas Collins (Chair of the Department of Sound at the Art Institute of Chicago) is a collection containing 34 tracks that range from conceptual pieces to sound documents (unmanipulated sounds meant to document a time and location), to performance-based compositions, to tape-based compositions. As one might expect, much of the inspiration for the collection is John Cage’s infamous work, 4’33″ (1952). The project also includes extensive notes, including no less than three essays. The introductory essay by Mr. Collins speaks to the ever-increasing preciousness of silence. It also speaks to current interest in lo-fidelity music production techniques, which may be seen as somewhat of a backlash to the quasi-fetishistic nature of the world of hi-fidelity. On a more humorous level, Mr. Collins relates the project to an old lecher’s quip: “a drink before and a cigarette after are the three best things in life.” Several of the works in this collection focus on the drink and the cigarette, editing out what had been the central material. Daniel Levitin’s essay, “The Rose Mary Woods/Nixon Tapes,” is compelling in that he makes the case for the eighteen-and-a-half-minute gap in a reel-to-reel tape recorded in the White House during the Nixon administration as the second most famous silence of recent time. He then goes on to attribute the most famous silence to the essential part of a Jack Benny joke. Here Mr. Levitin identifies (intentionally or unintentionally) a functional approach to silence. This approach is a technique which I refer to as “nothing is funny.” It is the silences in Benny’s delivery which instill hilarity. It is the silence that follows the trombone solo in Aaron Copland’s Rodeo that renders the melody humorous. It is the “nothing” that Andy Kaufman performs during his infamous “Mighty Mouse” routine (lip-synching to a recording of the “Mighty Mouse Theme,” but only on the line “Here I come to save the day”). The closing essay of the liner notes, “The Sounds of Silence: John 87 Cage and 4’33″,” by Larry Solomon, is somewhat expected. However, the author explores the genesis of Cage’s piece. In particular, he focuses on an excerpt from “The Art of Noises” by Luigi Russolo (1913), as well as Cage’s mention of this work in a 1948 lecture at Vassar College. Many writings on this landmark piece deal with the impact of the work on society after its premiere. Mr. Solomon’s essay is refreshing in the way that it looks back to the ideas that led Cage to frame silence in the manner that he did. Another trend of the collection is the number of pieces that reference Alvin Lucier’s landmark work I am sitting in a room. Included are How Many People Are…

James Matthew Bohn

From: Computer Music Journal
Volume 30, Number 3, Fall 2006
pp. 87-89 |

Read the book.

 Anticipation - Daniel Levitin
 Between Ragin, And Hell - Rory Shackles
 Dumb-Show – Quarrelling 2 - Gyorgy Kurtag
 The Other Boulez - Michael Schumacher
 Cage Silenced - People Like Us (Vicki Bennett)
 S.B.D - Paul Davis
 Pastoral Pause - John Levack Drever
 How Many People Are In This Room? - Kapital Band 1
 I Am Not Sitting In A Room - Richard Beard
 A Minute’s Silence For the Queen Mum, 2002 - David Hoyland
 Apple (Windfall/Fallobst) - Valerian Maly
 The Quiet Room - Peter Cusack
 Bird Hide - Adrian Newton
 Silence/Silent Landscape - Jens Brand
 Quiet Coffee - Alvin Lucier
 Bird Song - Lori Talley
 Lobby And Lebeg - Dale Lloyd
 Erster Berliner - Eric Leonardson
 The Sound Was - Aaron Siegel
 0’0,060″ For A Rock And Roll Band - No Noise Reduction
 EEG Recording Of No Sounds In The Surrounding Area - Justin Wiggin
 Krikle - Anne Welmer
 My Laptop Colony – Colony In My Laptop - Andy Keep
 Tell Tale 2.1 - David First
 Humbucket - Dan Evans Farkas
 Imperfection Theorem Of Silence - Yasunao Tone
 World Trade Center Recordings - Stephen Vitiello
 Two Minutes Fifty Seconds Silence For The USA - Matt Rogalsky & George Bush
 Ventilator - David Watson
 Unspoken Conversations - Thomas Joyce
 Untitled #102 - Francisco Lopez
 Lullaby - Ted Collins

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