Thursday, October 15, 2009

Architecture of Time:


Here's another excerpt from Rouget's "Music and Trance" which has a particular bearing on the composition of You'll Always Come Back:

"How is music experienced? We respond to it in several ways; to simplify matters, let us say physiologically, psychologically, affectively, and esthetically.

Physiologically speaking (at the sensorial level), although music is mainly perceived by the ear, this is not the only path it can take. Musical vibrations are wave movements whose amplitude is relatively large when compared to the scale of the human body. The movement of the objects that give rise to these vibrations - or the movement they excite in objects, since the transfer of energy can take place in either direction - is always palpable and often even visible. It is thus directly perceptible as material and concrete. A musical vibration can be something palpable. If one touches the soundboard of a violin while it is being played, one can feel the sounds quivering against one's finger tip. If one nears one of the extremely large drums the Yoruba beat at the secret Oro ceremonies, one will hear the sounds through one's abdomen - which vibrates in sympathy - as much as through the ears. Similarly, if in the same ceremonies, one comes close to one of the small drums,'s entire head vibrates. In an organ loft, when the organ plays loudly, one absorbs the music with one's whole body. The whole world trembles, the very air resounds. "To bathe in music" is not just a metaphor. It happens that we truly perceive it through the skin. ...

But this external sensitivity is not the only thing involved. One's internal sensitivity is also aroused by music and likewise functions as a path of reception. It is well known that when we speak, and even more when sing, we hear ourselves from the inside. But in fact we are doing more than hearing ourselves sing. We are feeling ourselves sing. We are feeling our neck and throat vibrate, quiver. And that is true of many of the other areas of the body too: the entire head, the thorax and abdomen, the pelvic region. Music is thus simultaneously an animation of things and a palpitation of the being. Both are felt more intensely when one is making music than when one is simply listening to it. ... This physical impact, of course, is what pop music is consciously striving for. Through the din of vast amplifiers, such music obtains effects of violence and acoustic turbulences never before achieved. ... Alain Roux observes that "this amount of power acts directly upon the body and creates a feeling of participation tha many people never attain even during the sexual act. There is no resisting it except by flight. Amplified to this extent, the human voice affects the larynx... the sounds of the electric bass (infra-sounds) produce vibrations localized in the internal erogenous zones of the abdomen... The repetitive melodies and perpetual thrumming instantly produce a light hypnosis." ...

Music is in essence movement. Its origins lie in bodily movements... - and in return music is an incitement to movement. Since by definition sound is actualized in the unfolding of time, its relations with itself are constantly changing (even if it remains the same, for continuing is inevitably also changing, since it implies change of duration) and these changes are integrated, at several levels, into the "thickness" of time. Even in its most immaterial aspect -sound totally isolated from its source - music is perceived as movement being realized in space. This is even more true when it is made simultaneously with dance, or to make people dance. To dance is to inscribe music in space, and this inscription is realized by means of a constant modification of the relations between the various parts of the body. The dancers awareness of his body is totally transformed by this process. Insofar as it is a spur to dancing, therefore, music does appear capable of profoundly modifying the relations of the self with itself, or, in other words, the structure of consciousness.

Psychologically, music also modifies the experience of being, in space and time simultaneously. Like the sound of speech, the sound of music defines the space in which I am situated as a space inhabited by others, and at the same time if situates me within this space in some particular manner. Silence is the sign of an empty or motionless space - death or sleep. Sound is the sign of a space that is filled and in movement. The sounds of nature bring me information on the movements of nature, the sounds produced by humans bring me information about their presence, and the types of sound I hear tell me something about their activities: they are cutting down a tree in a wood, they are machine-gunning one another, they are dancing, she is rocking a baby to sleep. People are there, they are doing something. The sounds I hear mark out the space around me and enable me to integrate myself into it.

In the dimension of time, music modifies our consciousness of being to an even greater extent. It is an architecture of time. It gives time a density different from its everyday density. It lends it a materiality is does not ordinarily have and that is of another order. It indicates that something is happening in the here and now; that time is being occupied by an action being performed, or that a certain state rules over the beings present. The drum-roll that resound throughout the circus ring as the trapeze artist makes his death-defying leap is one example.

...(of the small drum in the Oro ceremony...) ... Everything suggest that its role is to maintain a certain vibration in the air, and thus insure the continuity of the action. In short, to establish a different order of duration. Or, if one prefers, to bring about a sort of crystallization of time. (...)

Music does not organize time only at this elementary level but also at a higher one, thus giving birth to a real architecture of time. Possession music does not operate solely by means of repetition and accumulation, as is too often thought. The musical mottos are melodic or rhythmic statements and consequently temporal forms. They are capable of being varied and ornamented. In the course of a ceremony they follow one another and thus form sequences that should be seen as the multiple ways of renewing and developing musical time, which preserves its unity all the while since the pieces following one another belong to the same genre. By thus transforming our awareness of time and space, in different ways, music modifies our "being-in-the-world."

The state of affective resonance that music - or at any rate certain kinds of music - creates in any individual is another aspect of the upheaval it creates in the structure of consciousness. Nothing is more laden with emotional associations than music, nothing is more capable of recreating situations that engage one's entire sensibility. It induces the individual into a state which both his inward feelings and his relations with the outer world are dominated by affectivity.

Finally, as art, when it is a success, music creates the feeling of total adhesion of the self to what is happening. In this sense it again brings about a transformation of the structure of consciousness, by effectuating a particular and exceptional type of relation of the self to the world."

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