The Struggle Hears and Plays All That We Forget Is Still Happening

Deeply moved by the recent social movements of strikes against austerity that have troubled the quietude of Quebec’s society, we desire to explore the affective territories opened by these recent struggles.

If art is a “capture of forces” (Deleuze 2002), music can be understood as a way to make heard the sound of events, their vibrational materiality. Music: a mode of thought in its own right that allows reflections of the sonic dimension of actuality but that also creates new virtual, incorporeal universes (Guattari 2013). Our proposition asks, How can music express the sound of politics, the ambiance of the different manifestations of power, and the sonic dimensions of particular political struggles? Such refraction of loss and endless potential is, as Guattari insists, art in its instinctual procession—a procession that invites a variety of subjectivities, including those closely located in human, musical, and environmental spatialities. Sound can in some ways be thought of as a dark precursor of political dynamics—harmonic nodes vibrating from the rebirth already present in the birth of the common. The countless subjectivities in social movements express themselves sonically, with music tracing feeling’s material repetitions, dramatising its arc, playing on and between its overt over-concreteness, thereby displaying the potentialities of an unclear, subconscious process against the authority of “a clear subject” (Guattari 2000). The sound of politics is in the echo of its undeniable materiality, in the decay where its materiality is modulated: not in the front-page headline but in the ink that bleeds through from an edition that was never printed.

We propose a collective experimentation that aims to hear, think, and create around the sound of the strike movements, their refrains, their rhythms, their resonances, in an attempt to share the intensity of the evanescent common that occurred. Our performance will consist of improvisatory co-compositions utilising guitars, a cello, amplifiers, a projector, voice, and sound alteration technologies. The focus on the sonic texture being composed will be maintained by slowly increasing the presence of darkness in the room as well as designing visual projections that function more as negative space than as visual objects. Paying attention to these tools, to their non-beginning, prehuman locations, we are interested in improvising with movement, repetition, language (French and English, performatively) and sonic reformulations of the immanent physical space of the conference. We seek modes of research-creation that stretch sound and sound-capture between a political event’s many non-happenings and its leftover insistent scar of “one thing having happened.”

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2002. Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. 2nd ed. Paris: Editions du Seuil.

Guattari, Félix. 2000. Three Ecologies. Translated by Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton. London: Athlone Press.

—. 2013. Schizoanalytic Cartographies. Translated by Andrew Goffey. London: Bloomsbury.

Who Interprets?

Beginning with David Stromberg’s recording of Helmut Lachenmann’s Pression, I ask the question: who interprets?

Operating within a conventional understanding, one would say that David Stromberg interprets Pression. This understanding indicates that interpretation marks the individual subject. However, it could also be said that Lachenmann reinterprets the instrument–body complex, bringing this complex into a new orientation of expressive structures through extended techniques of notation and cello playing. It is not simply a question of the performing subject interpreting the score but also of the performing body itself interpreted by systems of notation.

Taking Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche as a starting point, I will argue that performance does not have to be organised around the interpreting subject. As Deleuze (1983) describes, the “will to power” is not a “who” but a force of creation. A current that runs through The Logic of Sensation is that invisible forces manifest themselves on the body: “Bacon’s bodies, heads, Figures are made of flesh, and what fascinates him are the invisible forces that model flesh or shake it” (Deleuze 2003, xi).

Borrowing from Deleuze’s conceptual framework, I argue that “technique” cannot be thought of as co-extensive with the body’s movements—simply instrumental in conveying the performer’s “interpretation.” Rather, I argue that Deleuze’s philosophy allows one to reappropriate technique as a structuring entity (or invisible force) that plays across the body, without falling into a hylomorphic scheme in which form is distinguished from matter. Technique is never present; it is not an appendage; it is not co-extensive with the material body or the psychological subject.

It is easier to say what technique is not than what it is. However, again in line with Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche, I argue that technique should be spoken of in terms of becoming, not being. Technique is continually developing in relation to different modes of articulating music: as we have seen, Lachenmann’s notation is one example of composition reinterpreting the body and technique. However, many technical treatises—from Pierre Baillot’s violin treatise to Gerhard Mantel’s cello manual to the acoustics research of the bassist Knut Guettler—can be thought of as critical reinterpretations of the body, affecting and indeed becoming part of the technical assemblage.

I will argue that a critical and theoretical language about technique that incorporates Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy might allow us to describe performance on its own terms, aesthetically and formally independent (and yet co-dependent) from (and with) composition. The work of Mantel and Guettler treats technique as an independent object of study shifting between the phenomenological and the empirical. This research values technique in a fundamentally different manner from its treatment as a means of expressing an “interpretation” of musical compositions.

Guettler and Mantel work with technical bodies as machinic assemblages, developing a bodily calculus in line with Deleuze and Guattari’s “minor science”: “This science is characterized less by the absence of equations than by the very different role they play: instead of being good forms absolutely that organize matter, they are ‘generated’ as ‘forces of thrust’ by the material, in a qualitative calculus of the optimum” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 364–65). Guettler and Mantel introduce knowledge about the body, but a knowledge that is inseparable from material action. This knowledge follows the indeterminacies of the technical body’s programmed action, disrupting (to different degrees) the methodologies of “royal science.” It is of note here that differences in valuing and observing the technical component of musical practice led to propose radical revisions to the structure of conservatory education, demonstrating the close relationship of material practice, aesthetics, and politics.

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 1983. Nietzsche and Philosophy. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson. New York: Columbia University Press.

Deleuze, Gilles. 2003. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Translated by Daniel W. Smith. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Guettler, Knut. 1992. A Guide to Advanced Modern Double Bass Technique. London: Yorke Edition.

Mantel, Gerhard. 1995. Cello Technique: Principles and Forms of Movement. Translated by Barbara Haimberger Thiem. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Variables, Diagrams, Process

The characteristic of a musical time-space, whether sound is the result of material sources or generated by machines, is to give consistency to previously unheard sound individuations—without identity (Deleuze 2003). To this end, mapping and spatial-temporal diagrams determine the variables’ changes and the modelling of dynamic events—following either a gestural or techno-generated process. Far from excluding each other, the complementary poles of the continuous and discontinuous are in constant exchange while becoming fields, varying their dimensions and distributions, renewing the composition of their relations in variable, gradual, and imperceptible transformations, speeds, and density changes (Criton 2015).

Transitivity, more than stable continuities, retains our interest here, setting contiguity of different sizes (smooth/striated), indiscernible areas, and dazzling couplings that allow linear, exclusive, or restrictive models to be abandoned and be moved from one category or “middle” to another (Criton 2011).

The presentation will outline a few transitive situations—sensory, gestural, spatial continuities. Through Chaoscaccia for cello (2013) and Circle Process for violin (2012), the presentation will focus on performance and gestural processes, pushing the dramaturgy of gesture to its event size, in order to grasp its driving idea and to identify its principle, both processually and extensively. What will enable affects to gain speed and direction, and introduce dynamic, intensive, and extensive associations? Through Plis (2008) and Ecoutes croisées (2014), the possibilities of ubiquitous (Criton 2012) and multimodal listening (Criton 2014) will be discussed.

Chaoscaccia (Criton and Walker 2013) follows a gesture process to explore a scordatura in 1/16th tone on the cello. The route is determined by a gesture map and consists of five steps: (1) rebounds, (2) parlando, (3) multiphonies, (4) mutando, and (5) disappearing. The basic principle is concerned with instability and sudden changes (shift process) between different states. Each state proceeds in an unstable mode and emerges without a forced beginning or ending. The duration of the cycle is open and it can be played in a concise or extensive manner. The cello is sonorised with two microphones (on foot), which can be directional or cardioid (type Neumann 184). 

References

Criton, Pascale. 2011. “Nothing is Established Forever.” In The Guattari Effect, edited by Éric Alliez and Andrew Goffey, 235–50. London: Continuum.

—. 2012. “O ouvido ubiquista: Escutar diferentemente.” In Cadernos de subjetividade, edited by Peter Pál Pelbart. São Paulo, Brazil: University Catholic Pontificale of São Paulo.

—. 2014. “Listening Otherwise: Playing with Sound Vibrations.” In ICMC Proceedings 2014. Accessed 12 October 2015. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/p/pod/dod-idx/listening-otherwise-playing-with-sound-vibration.pdf?c=icmc;idno=bbp2372.2014.275.

—. 2015. “L’hétérogénèse sonore.” In Gilles Deleuze: La pensée-musique, edited by Pascale Criton and Jean-Marc Chouvel. Paris: CDMC, Symétrie.

Criton, Pascale, and Deborah Walker. 2013. Chaoscaccia for cello tuned in 1/16th tone (duration circa 20 min.). 

Deleuze, Gilles. 2003. “‘Rendre audibles des forces non-audibles par elles-mêmes.’ Le temps musical, Ircam 1978.” In Deux régimes de fous. Textes et entretiens, 1975–1995, edited by David Lapoujade. Paris: Editions de Minuit.