Descrição: Brian Ferneyhough's Time Motion Study 1
One of the world's most widely known business speakers and a leading authority on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness, Brian Tracy addresses more than 250,000 people each ...
The philosophy of time travel from the movie 'Donnie Darko' is suppose to be "fiction" but I believe that its NON - FICTION and just a little bit creepy.Full description
Songbook HelloweenDescripción completa
Descrição: Songbook Helloween
The Tactility of Time (Darmstadt Lecture 1988) Author(s): Brian Ferneyhough Source: Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Winter, 1993), pp. 20-30 Published by: Perspectives of New Music Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/833032 Accessed: 18/02/2009 14:56 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=pnm. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]
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THE TACTILITYOF TIME
SPITE OF the strange, portentious-seeming title, you should not think of this talk as being some sort of hermetically self-enclosed object. Some of you have, I suppose, attended Darmstadt in earlier years and will thus be aware of the virulent spread of the peculiarly aggressive assertion that one cannot really talk about music at all-or at least, not in any meaningful way on matters of compositional intention and technique. However strange it may seem that many hours of lecture time have been consumed with verbalizing this thesis, this is not something that I want to overemphasize today: rather, I would like to talk, not so much theoretically (although there will be a little of that, perhaps), but speculatively, on the search for a possible language in which one central aspect of my own compositional concerns may be provisionally formulated, that is, the concept of time and the concrete sensation of its presence as manifest in one particular piece, Mnemosyne for bass flute and
The Tactility of Time
prerecorded tape. In pursuing this goal it may be that I will come a personal step further in reestablishing such topics as possible areas of practical/theoreticaldiscourse in such contexts as this. Mnemosyne (the eponymous Greek goddess of memory) forms the final part of the evening-filling Carceri d'Invenzionecycle after Piranesi, which was given its first complete performance at the 1986 Donaueschingener Musiktage. The reason that I am presenting this piece today is that, when starting work on it, I adopted a new approach to processing the interaction between large-scale formal/variational structure and its temporal contiguity. The anamorphic, perforated "motivicity" of the rhythmic patterning in the live bass flute part was locked into the linear expansion of primary and secondary pitch domains with a view to rendering immediate various degrees of temporal "tactility"-that is to say, situations in which alterations in the flow of time through and around objects or states becomes sensually (consciously) palpable. I employ the term "tactile" even though I am well aware of the problems attached to the uncritical transference of vocabulary from one area of discourse to another. Still, we have sufficiently frequent recourse to physical, bodily analogies when referring to musical events for such an extension to have some inherent intuitive plausibility. If it would not be entirely inappropriate to classify musical events of, for instance, high amplitude according to criteria such as "weight" then it would also seem legitimate to seek communally acceptable terms for the fluctuating balance between the identity of discrete event-objects and their temporal frames of reference. What, in Webern and after, could be said of silence as a "contextually defined empty class" can surely be extended to the larger empty class of time itself. Even though, when talking about "tactility" in musico-temporal terms, one is speaking with connotational rather than denotational intent, I still feel that the term serves to identify an experience most of us have occasionally had. When we listen intensively to a piece of music there are moments when our consciousness detaches itself from the immediate flow of events and comes to stand apart, measuring, scanning, aware of itself operating in a "speculative time-space" of dimensions different from those appropriate to the musical discourse in and of itself. We become aware of the passing of time as something closely approaching a physical, objectivized presence. There have been occasions when I have had the experience of time "sliding" across the inner surface of the brain with a certain impetus: it seems to be the weight and sequential ordering of resistances offered by whatever evaluational model the mind is currently attuned to, combined perhaps with some form of inertial energy generated by this encounter (and by the separate awareness that this is happening) which creates an irregular segmentation of experiental continuity and, hence, of the awareness of time as a distinct
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affective entity. One specific compositional problem I have recently been working on is: how can this "objectivized" sense of time be invested with specific form-articulating qualities? One approach to this issue has been adopted--on a plurality of interreferential levels- in Mnemosyne, and revolves around questions of metre as defining feature of experienceunits.
There appears to me to be a major difficulty at the present juncture in assigning important areas of formal organization to abstract metric or rhythmic frames. Similarly, it seems doubtful if received conventions of "speech resemblance" are still widely applicable as tools for suggesting "natural"or "anti-natural"rates of flow for particular categories of musical event, even though it is clear that all involuntary and most voluntary bodily functions (heartbeat, rate of breathing, adrenalin flow, and so on) ultimately contribute significantly to the temporal perspective adopted by the listener. It's a dual relationship: if we postulate a metric structure and we project against it musical objects we have one specific frame of reference; it must also be born in mind, however, that there is a parallel, more subtle frame at work, i.e. the relationship established between the body's somatic condition and the mediating metric lattice. We perceive this latter as being itself "fast" or "slow" according to our bodily condition. Since there is a constant feedback between the two poles the position (perspective) of the listener is constantly in motion-for instance, in respect of the perceived density or rapidity of the surface of the music itself, the understanding of what is to count as an object at that point in the relationship. This issue has sometimes been practically harnessed to musical expression-as, for example, in Holliger's Cardiophonie for oboe, in which the rapidity of execution progressively acceleratesin proportion to the excitation of the physis as a direct result of the performative act. Something similar is found in the same composer's Holderlin cycle, in one of the vocal movements of which each singer takes an independent tempo from her own pulse rate, taken by holding a finger to the wrist. Here, the tempo diverges considerably from performer to performer as a function of personal temperament and the nature of the material to be sung. My own immediate interest in Mnemosyne and the Third String Quartet was the creation of fore-, middle-, and background transformations which would evince different somatic densities. There seems to me to be only a rather small number of strategies according to which we can allow a musical discourse to manifest the feeling of time as something concretely present, as having, as it were, a specific gravity all its ownperhaps different from but certainly equal to that encountered in the materials employed. One of these strategies pertains specifically to the nature of the musical objects themselves: we perceive discrete events as
The Tactility of Time
being of a certain density, translucency, as moving with a greater or lesser degree of dynamicism relative to the amount of information contained. If the perceived potential for informational substance is rather high, the time frame required for the efficient reception and absorption of that information is usually more expansive, so that if the time frame is deliberately compressed a sense of pressure, of "too little time" emerges as a major factor conditioning reception-something which leads the listener to categorize the musical flow as "fast." Thus, when listeners to my music say that it is "too fast" they tend to mean, not that the momentary density of events is excessive, but rather that there is a sort of "time lag" zone located in the wake of the event itself which is the real arena of temporal sensation. Sometimes, to be sure, there is a certain resentment caused by the feeling of being pushed somehow beyond the "normal" threshold of temporal tolerance, into an area in which provisionally erected frameworks are continually being violated by current events which invade them. The challenge, of course, is to specify objects which suggest such a high degree of internal coherence that the listening ear is necessarily twisted at an angle towards a structured awareness of the insufficiency built into the dimensions of the time-space within which the object is located. As a result, the time frame itself becomes rather "gluey"; it stands apart and offers relentless resistance to linear energies. I suppose that all of us have occasionally had dreams of attempted escape from some unnameable fear in which our feet are caught in some substance such as glue or molasses, so that it's a tremendous, step-by-step effort to keep moving. That is but one basic example of the sort of experience I'm talking about. The more the internal integrity of a musical event suggests its autonomy, the less the capacity of the "time arrow" to traverse it with impunity; it is "bent" by the contact. By the same token, however, the impact of the time vector "damages" the event-object, thus forcing it to reveal its own generative history, the texturation of its successivity: its perceptual potential has been redefined by the collision. As the piece progresses we are continually stumbling across further stages in this catastrophic obstacle race. The energy accumulation and expenditure across and between these confrontational moments is perceived as a form of internalized metronome, and in fact it is a version of this procedure which most clearly fuels the expressive world of Mnemosyne:the retardational and catastrophic timeline modifiers are employed equally to focus temporal awareness through the lens of material. The means employed derive, for the most part, from the varied "filtering" (erasure or conflation of rhythmic impulses) of a highly rationalized set of precomposed metric/rhythmic models. The choice of medium (solo instrument and prerecorded tape) is a direct reflection of my basic concept: how can
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"transparency"and "resistance"of musical materials with respect to temporal perspective be foregrounded as expressive energy? The problem was addressed on three fronts simultaneously: (1) the manifestation of background metric spatio/temporal coordinates on the eight-track tape (where only the downbeat of each and every measure of the piece is attacked); (2) the "interferencepatterns" created by the partial erasure of the subsurface rhythmic models (their degree of explicit representation); and (3) the prevailing level of explicit interruptive activity in the solo part, whereby each of the three lines of independently calculated rhythmic patterns is able to cut off already present actions on one or both other levels. (In a monophonic instrument, it is clear that the entry of material on a second level necessarily causes that on the first level to be broken off, regardless of its written duration.) These three aspects thus have the interruptive strategy in common, since even the metric structures of the tape material are based on continual crosscutting between measures employing eighth-note beats and those characterized by particular fractions (usually quintuplet or triplet values) of those beats, whereby the "feel" of the relationship between surface gesture and (for the audience inaudible) click track is constantly changing. In addition, what is true between measure and measure is also valid for the tempi relationships between adjacent sections. It is important that the performer come to creative terms with this pyramid structure of conventions: a note begun as if it were going to continue for its full written length, for instance, is going to have a considerably different effect when interrupted than a note written as having an identical real duration (even supposing that, in context, to be possible). Performative shaping energy will be distributed according to quite other criteria, other mental trajectories. It's clear that, if we have several musical objects following on from one another, we will perceive the flow of time differently according to whether (e.g.) these objects are obviously crossrelated, whether they are connected by gradualistic transformations in one or more parameters, whether there exist codifiable consistencies in intervening "buffer materials," and so on. If, for instance, we move through a piece entirely on the basis of quasi-instantaneous modulations ("film cuts") then the irregular weighting of the temporal dimension is magnified by the parallel disposition of material identity and exclusivity of temporal container. Concomitantly, the tempo flow within any one of those same units becomes somewhat less constitutive. If, on the other hand, we postulate a music whose structural extremes, whilst equally powerful, are less obvious, relegated to a set of subsurface ordering mechanisms (like predicting the length of a measure in the density of impulses in the immediately preceding measure), then our ears naturally adopt other assumptions of priority, of grouping in time, even where general density
The Tactility of Time
and stylistic ductus are directly comparable. I actually used rhythmic substructures identical to those in Mnemosynein Intermediofor solo violin, but the end effect was very different precisely because I deliberately chose other conventions of immediate and mediated "causality,"different assemblages of density units within distended metric frames. At least for the performer, the overlaying of fluctuating metric frames on essentially homogeneous materials provides important clues as to the latter's structural segmentation characteristics. At the same time, one can imagine manipulating actual sonic density within this model in ways supportive of or subverting the information gleaned from the metric patterning. The aperiodic cycling with respect to one another of these two levels permits the projection of further macroperiodicities of great utility as regards large-scale formal articulation. In each instance we encounter "threshold"values (of duration and/or density) beyond which the experiential function of that value trajectory-its status as active formal marker-undergoes radical transformation (e.g. from field to eventobject or from primary process to secondary intervention). In this particular composition there is the added aspect of the click track. It was suggested to me by a number of performers that, ultimately, they would be sufficiently familiar with the temporal proportioning (its "contextual naturalness") to be able to dispense with the click altogether; I am not in favor of this, though, since the mental interference patterns set up by (say) attempting to weave x number of regular impulses into a measure broken up in the performer'sear into y clicks contributes a lot, I think, to the moment-to-moment flow of expressive tension. The clicks, in such cases, provide "micromeasures"serving to divide up the material in an analogous way to the role of measures in a given section. If the flautist were to abandon the click track, it seems likely that he would expend significantly more energy in "phrasing" the material more traditionally, weakening the interaction of the specifics of rhythmic detailing and larger aspects of temporal organization. So this is the first aspect of what I shall term metric contextualization. The second might be called that of interruptive polyphony (both ultimately subsumable to the larger category of interference form). You will notice that the bass flute part is written out on between one and three staves (Example 1). The number of staves employed is, in fact, one of the factors delineating the overall formal progression. What is happening is this: each stave employed represents the results of an independent rhythmic process. Since these run concurrently and are, in part, not mutually (grammatically) compatible in terms of reduction to one particular common denominator it is clear that no monophonic instrument is going to be able to perform all materials on all three lines. With a piano this doesn't matter: there's the possibility of distributing three voices among two
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The Tactility of Time
hands. It is interesting that what comes naturally to a keyboard player encounters tremendous resistance in the minds of (say) woodwind soloists, who are not accustomed to freeing up the "natural" relationship between hands, or hand and embouchure. In this instance, however, I am not (always) notating partial aspects of single sounds, but distinct musical processes. What happens is that each of the three lines has its own typical materials in any given section; hence, there is always a particular priority pattern characteristicof the lines among themselves-one is always dominant, the others accompanimental, interjectional, or otherwise subordinate. Similarly,particular tone colors, registral distributions, or degree of relative density contribute to the sense of separation of essences between simultaneous layers of linear unfolding. Since the monophonic capability of the instrument comes into continual conflict with the highly polyphonic nature of the superincumbent materials, events or event chains are always being interrupted by the beginning of new events on other levels. For the most part, events are not held for their full durations before being broken into by reminders of the claims of other, "suppressed" tendencies. The degree of "tactility" emerging from this subversion is dictated in large measure, firstly by the amount of perceptible regularity or consistency set up in the predominant layer, and secondly by the degree of explicitness with which the interruptive functions themselves assume a certain measure of predictability.How the layers interact in detail is left to the performer to determine, since it is he who assigns relative hierarchical values to the intersecting or colliding linear tendencies. When notating the piece I had to determine a method of precisely locating the commencement of each sound, together with the point at which it is interrupted by an event elsewhere: for this I selected the convention of a continuous horizontal line drawn from the notehead on the first level to just above or below the interrupting event, connecting the two with a vertical line (Example 2). So far we have covered four major facets of time-flow control in Mnemosyne: (1) the relative duration of measures as "constellation spaces"; (2) the density of material presented within each space; (3) the interaction of click track with the distribution of materials; and (4) the intensity and explicitness of interruptive function with which the effective simultaneity of vectorial tendencies is exposed. There are obvious parallels and intersections of these classes: I am always concerned with providing as many structural bridges as possible between categorically distinct levels of listening. Analogous but not identical principles of ordering and listening are the goal. A further essential perspective is given by the tape-something I mentioned earlier. I described how the "micro metroThere, briefly nome" of the click track is "resonated" by, and counterpoised to, the
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The Tactility of Time
"macro metronome" marked by the succession of downbeat impulses provided by the taped bass flutes. Several further essential functions are served by the tape, among which are: the provision of an essentially cumulative formal drive (against the solo instrument's more nonlinear tendencies); the sonic definition of "constellation spaces" as given by the bar proportions; the signaling of new sections by heavy eight-note chords and, not least, the increasingly emphatic imprisoning of the bass flute in a complex web of reference pitches-something which provides more clear orientation but also undermines his gesturally directional autonomy. Since the soloist is permitted to play only (a) pitches already sounding in the tape or (b) secondary pitches articulating a specific (and ever-reducing) repertoire of intervals around those primary pitches, the reliance of the bass flute's pitch material on that simultaneously sounding on tape becomes more and more constricting. By allowing the accretive tendencies in chordal density of the tape (starting with a single pitch, moving gradually up to eight pitches) to intersect with these reductive tendencies in the solo line, large-scale patterns of tendential flow are established against which specific conjunctions may momentarily give rise to nonlinearly perceived events. It is the pendulum-like motion between various degrees of background flow criteria and the sudden emergence of such relatively unpredictable events which serves as the vehicle of "temporal tactility." At the beginning and end of the piece the functional dichotomy is very clear, the hierarchies distinct; the specifically transgressional aspect of the two levels is at a minimum. At the beginning you will hear only a single note in the tape counterpoised against a great variety of intervals and movement in the bass flute. At the end, precisely the opposite is the case, that is, a high density of pitches in the tape has reduced the solo line to a mere demonstrative horizontalization of that verticality, exhausting thereby its linear energic potential, its ability to penetrate the opaque time screen of tape chords. Clearly, all sorts of games can be played with directional and intervallic consistency when relating secondary intervals to primary pitch identities: various consistencies of explicitness in processual attachment can aid or hinder the general prevailing degree of linear consistency. It is only in the interstices of these "grey zones" of destabilization that the instantaneous shift in perspectival assessment underlying the entire "tactile" dimension of temporal flow becomes dominant; oblique temporal scanning is predominant-the mental distance to be traversed having been increased, the "speed" at which perceptual assessment mechanisms must move in relation to the density of material unfolding is constantly changing, is being compressed or attenuated. In all this I have said nothing specific about the function of tempo and metre proportioning. Suffice it to say here that, just as all tempi relate
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directly back in a limited number of ratios either to the base tempo or to immediately preceding tempi, so metric structure within the groups so formed utilizes "irrational beats" relating to the prevailing beat speed in similarly derived proportions. From section to section there are also gradual modifications (of a linear additive or subtractive sort) in bar length, but I would need a much lengthier presentation to lay out the precise paths taken by these various vectors in their dance of approach and avoidance. It is my view in general that the awareness of temporal flow as a sensually palpable and thus relatively independent given is in large part dependent on both the communal resonantial capabilities of these several levels of organization and the disruptive astonishment generated in the wake of their occasional intersection, collision, and mutual subversion. This seems to me a major compositional resource.
First published, in German translation, in MusikTexte35 (July 1990):14-17.