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ANALYSIS, PHENOMENOLOGY, AND ETHNOMUSICOLOGY IN SPECTRAL MUSIC

An adventure in
                Experimental Music: An interview with C. Cazaban Interview.Cazaban.html
Being composer. An
                Interview with Olivier Bernard, 1998 ( In French) Interview.Bernard.html
 

Panelists: Ana-Maria Avram, Iancu Dumitrescu, Cornelia Fales, Tristan Murail    Moderator: Joshua Fineberg
Conference held with the occasion of the Istanbul International Spectral Music Conference Center for Advanced Musical Research (MIAM)
Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey, November 18-23, 2003

Published in 'Spectral World Musics' - the proceedings of the Istanbul Spectral Music Conference in 2003”.


Joshua Fineberg (JF):
I think since most of your faces look very familiar, that you've been here for most of this. I'm not going to introduce everyone; you know who these people are already. And because things were running a little bit late, I think we should just jump into it. I guess where I wanted to start this discussion is, especially focusing on composers, where each of them started. Because in the case of Tristan Murail and Iancu Dumitrescu, they came at this very early in the game; there weren't other people doing this. So my first question to the two of you would be, when was it you first started thinking that you might work directly with acoustic materials as the basis for building or modifying your musical language?


Ana-Maria Avram (AMA):
Is there a date you can ...?

JF:
No, I don't mean a date, I mean more conceptually.


AMA: Now a little bit, now you make a step and then you are obliged to make the other one, because this is also dramatic, even tragic- that when you make a step this obliges you, isn't it? You don't realize how important it is. But after that, you are obliged to the step that follows, which is determined by the previous one, and so on...


JF: I guess my question, to be more specific, where did it come out? So for example, I think we all know some of the very early proto-spectral things that happened, like the Per Norgaard, Voyage into the Golden Screen and other things, or the André Jolivet, imitation of the organ stops, and those things. How much were those things in your mind in the very early days, or what was it that led you to it?


AMA: Sixties, for Iancu it was the sixties. For example, when he composed the first pieces of the " Medium" serie -for cello, than for doublebass. And then, the orchestral piece "Apogeum", or the string quartet "Alternances" or even in "Metamorphoses" for clarinet, one of his earliest musics where a combinatory musical thought is partially substituted by a transformational thinking. But it is not still a spectral music, it's a kind of proto-spectral music. In the early sixties or the beginning of the sixties?


Iancu Dumitrescu (ID): The beginning.


JF:
And so at what point did you start to make the transition from thinking about just timbre and mass and fusion to ...


ID: I studied folk music, especially Romanian folk music. And it's very interesting because Romania has a very special geographical position. It's a territory of transition between Western Europe and East.


AMA: Yes, you can have sometimes even the echoes of something like sitar music, like North Indian music.


ID: It's maybe interesting to say that Béla Bartok was the first, I think, very important genius who discovered this richness of the ancient Romanian traditional music and its connections with Eastern music - râga, makham, etc, and also its connection to natural harmonics. There is a large scale use of concrete harmonic sounds in Romanian folk music, very primitive instruments that are producing specifically harmonic sounds, multiphonics, micro-intervals, etc...
To Bartok we owe the idea of acoustic scales, when it comes to Romanian folk music. This particular scale is completely deduced from the natural resonance of the first eleven harmonics, with of course its specific non tempered intonations .... And for me it was like a natural contact to this kind of roots, very essential roots I mean....An essential contact with this world of natural harmonics sounds.


JF: And at what point did it make the change from working with timbre, sort of, experimentally and intuitively, to trying to understand more directly how frequencies and spectra might be made up in a more theoretical way so that you could manipulate it?


ID: At the beginning, it was only an ambition, a subjective ambition. The ambition was to build up a new avant-garde in music. Not only at a practical level, but as a new way of thinking. I was influenced, encouraged by the fact that the Dada movement was born in Romania, also many others - Brancusi for example, in sculpture, Stephane Lupasco - a very original philosopher, living in Paris, who was one of the first to include the micro-physical experience in a philosophical system. As for me, in analogy with physics, spectralism, microtonal level corresponds to the microphysics revolution. Or in music - Xenakis for example, Ligeti also... Many composers were born in Romania, and that was also a side of my intellectual ambition ...


Tristan Murail (TM): That's interesting because when I'm asked this question I often refer people to exactly the two names you just evoked, Xenakis and Ligeti, because they brought another way of thinking about music, as masses of sound, of structure of sound, and this sort of things.


JF: Actually - and I don't want to keep insisting on this, but I think that's the transition that is easier for people to see, how this music comes out of Ligeti and Xenakis - I think the transition that's harder to be aware of exactly how it produced itself is, when that working with masses and with timbre, which lots of people did at that time, took that further step and started actually applying direct knowledge of frequencies and acoustics. That step didn't happen in so many other composers who were also working with masses and timbres.

AMA:
Sure. The consistency and elucidation of some ideas which was in the spirit of time. That makes the difference between geniuses and the other.
... But I'd like to come back to your first question. It's another influence about which Iancu didn't refere yet, when it comes to the elucidation of his musical conception. It is phenomenology and Sergiu Celibidache, who influenced him and, later, also myself enormously. Paradoxically, Celibidache in his last years didn't performed contemporary music; he did a lot when he was younger, but he later become very critical about most of contemporary music. His criticism was based on the very sharp intuition that most of contemporary musics doesn't transcend the physical sound reality. But in his thinking, and also in his practical way of making music he was an experimental thinker about music and an experimental practicing musician. Because the way that he assumed acoustics, and the way he spoke about how acoustic is influencing music hic et nunc [here and now], it's very striking. In fact it's a truly spectral conception about music, a phenomenological and spectralist also.


JF: And for you Tristan?


TM:
Well, as Ana-Maria said, it's hard to tell today. It's a process, in fact.


JF: Actually, what I mean is, if you could describe a little bit the process.


TM: Yes, in fact I did yesterday, so I don't like to repeat what I already said. But I think I mentioned the first experiments by Gérard Grisey in 1974 - a piece like "Périodes", where he consciously used the spectrum of a trombone in order to build the form of a piece. And myself, I was more interested in emulating an electronic phenomenon in my music at that time, so I used ideas derived from electronics, like feedback loops, ring modulations - in fact spectroids; it's an electronic thing (approach). I must say that we did not have tools to explore spectral data; it was very hard to get any information about timbre - precise information about timbre, I mean.


JF: When Grisey went to Germany and worked on acoustics he did have access to an electronic spectrogram, right?


TM: I don't know, but you must understand that the tools at that time were not that practical you know, and they were devised for scientists, not for musicians. So it was very hard to get precise information. So I think that had a part in the evolution. And on my side, the first piece I really used instrumental spectra in my music to build a musical form was in 1980, 81, 82 when I wrote "Désintégrations". I had access to IRCAM and then I found there was a big database of instrumental spectra, which had been analyzed previously. And then I could use that as the basis for my composition. It was the first time I really could do something consciously; before that it was like makeshift stuff.


AMA: if you allow me, I think I can emphasize one very important point of differenciation - even of opposition - between French spectralist school and Romanian artist approach, as Tristan touched this point. One of the most striking and irreducible problem when working with spectra is how you can build with those transitory phenomena. How you can reiterate them enough alike to be perceived as identical - enough identical to build something with. In other words how you can build a form, a musical construction with such of a material - very fragile because irrecurent. Than, as Tristan said, French composers used spectra to build, coming from spectra, another reality, a parallel one. So, with this approach they composed an amazing, extraordianary music, where structuralist thinking coexist with newer ideas. Using, though, spectral analysis as an analogic model for a macro-form, in another music.
In fact, in an oversimplified way of speaking - they first where analyzing real specra - with electronic laboratory tools- more or less scientific, that doesn't matter - than rebuilding, reconstructing in the musical form, orchestrating and arranging the result of their analysis. With, as a result, a new spectral reality, where real, fundamental sound combined in an analogy with a real pre-analized spectrum . So they create a different ( step of) sonic reality.
On the contrary, Iancu Dumitrescu completely assuming the use of those transitory phenomena - which are overtones, multisons, etc, used them with predilection, in a consistent musical universe. Than how he solved the problem of musical construction ? Just moving away from the combinatory, structuralist musical thinking to a transformational musical speech. This is essential I think. Than if spectral material can not be approached with structuralist tools, it certainly can be exploited in a transformational musical speech, as it referes to transformational realities, or who can be obtained and perceived only in a continuous transformational musical speech... In fact for me, those was the two different choices to be made: the first of an analogical model of sound spectra, rebuilt in French Spectralist School, the second, the use of concrete partial sounds - overtones, multisounds, beatings, etc, all those "transitory phenomena" in Romanian spectralist music - which had implied a different apperception of musical form who "renounce" to so-called structure instead of perpetual transformation of sound material.


JF: I think to try and pull ethnomusicology into this is a little bit, one of the things that seems quite... it's certainly not unique to spectral music, but it's a common element, is the use of sounds from folk musics and ethnic musics, not necessarily the structures and forms from them, but a real concern with sounds that are different, and by extension with sounds that come from cultures. So I wonder first, Cornelia, if you could just talk a little bit about the range of the kinds of musics in the world that really focus on timbre, as a primary element as opposed to pitch, or rhythm, or scales.


Cornelia Fales (CF):
Sure, I probably should limit what I say to Africa because that's where I'm a specialist, although I certainly am well-exposed to music in most places of the world. And I would say probably as a percentage, I would say maybe a third of the music that I'm aware of and I'm knowledgeable about is at least equal - puts equal importance on timbre as on pitch. Sometimes with musicians not realizing that there's a difference between the two of them really, that if you change one the other changes immediately anyway. And you know lots of times that timbre takes the form of certain kinds of noise (I keep going back to my poor sound files that didn't get played for my talk) but if they were a series of sounds with different kinds of noise that were made all with acoustic instruments, and that has been used as a timbral element, just for ever; it's an essential part of music in those cultures. And then there are cultures where the timbre is very much a theoretical part of music as well. I'm thinking of certain classical Indian genres, for example. Some Chinese and other Asian cultures have a classical form that involves timbre specifically and deliberately.


JF: I know that in qin music they have all these descriptions or poetic terms for 15 or 20 ways of plucking the string according to the timbre you're supposed to get. They're things like heavenly bells, etc., but they mean something specific.


CF: But the interesting thing is something you mentioned, which is that in all the research I've done (and I keep looking for big, big exceptions to this) all of the musicians using timbre specifically, with or without notation, talk about it in terms of what you do to get it, not in terms of the sound itself. So, as Joshua just said, how you pluck the string, not the sound you're waiting for.


JF: Except maybe the Sardinian polyphony, right?


CF:
Yeah, those vocals...


JF:
Because they specifically know the quinta that they want to bring out.


CF:
That's right, that's right.


JF: There's a kind of polyphonic singing they do in Sardinia in four parts and they try to tune it perfectly so that their partials will line up and reinforce extra notes that are above what everyone else is singing. They make this sort of whistling fifth voice, quinta, which they think of, I guess theologically, as the Holy Spirit singing with them.


AMA :
That's also the case in all music made with concrete timbre, either traditional or contemporary. As until now a quantified system for timbre notation doesn't exist, as for pitches and rhythms, you need always to refere of "how to obtain it " instead of describing the result, unless you have very evidently in your memory the acoustical result, from your musical tradition, as it's the case for Sardinian chant


CF:
For example, there is a genre of music in southern Africa where they play some panpipes that are very clearly odd harmonics. They don't know that this is what they're doing but the panpipes produce odd harmonics and someone else sings an octave higher, adding even harmonics. They do this with a number of instruments and they don't know why it is that only certain instruments have this great effect. When you say, "Why can you do this with panpipes, why can't you do it with this clarinet, why can't you do it with this harp, for example?" they just say, "well we just want one sound, and if we play it with the harp we get two sounds, you play it with the panpipe you get one sound." And so they're very clearly hearing something that we know about but not in the terms we understand. So there are lots of similarities.


JF:
Could the three of you maybe talk a little bit about how you've used ethnic musics?


AMA:
In fact, both Iancu Dumitrescu and myself, we are trying to find a non-figurative way, not illustrative, of making spectral music. We never refere to a folk material. Even folk music was one of the first field where we discovered the consistent use of overtones, we don't use folk music. There can be still found a certain relationship between both. For example, Iancu Dumitrescu used in the "Movemur " serie of works for different string instruments, the most general and abstract formative principles that builds a generic Romanian folk music called "Doina" ( equivalent of Spanish Cante Jondo): the alternance of a fundamental sound ( free strings in Dumitrescu's case , long pedal sounds in folk music case), with rapid, non -measured webs of overtones. But it wasn't any citation of folk music in there. Just the use of very general deduced musical principles.
Otherways, we are not composing figurative music. Referring to folklore would be a figuration. We are very far beyond that.


JF: And Tristan?


TM:
Ah well, the other thing I've done, I've used sounds from other cultures which I have analyzed and from which I've derived timbral or harmonic structures. So it's not for [?] of course, but in the piece called "L'Esprit des Dunes" I've used several sources of sounds coming from Mongolia and Tibet, especially the Mongolian diphonic singing that's called xoomij (some of you're Turkish, right? [laughs]), where the singer produces harmonics - very strong harmonics - with his voice, and for the melody, it's produced by the harmonics inside the voice, not by a succession of (fundamental, real) sounds. So this is a very important spectral concept in a way. In a way, the singers have produced the first spectral music in the world since the technique comes from very old [times].


JF: I don't want to inject myself too much, but I sometimes have used some ethnic musics not in any way you hear directly. In a piece in the concert tonight, Veils, a lot of the pacing of certain events and where changes in events come, actually came from the pacing in a particular Tibetan religious ritual, that I have a recording of, whose event succession interested me. But unless you saw the sketches, you would never have any way of hearing anything particularly Tibetan Buddhist about the piece. It's just simply a way of finding a succession of events in time that feels well-paced to me, and taking advantage of it.


ID: I think spectral music is maybe conclusion of the ages, a conclusion of the musical history, of the culture of the sound.
I mean in music, actually perhaps, comes the right time to emphasize this aspect of the primitive quality of the sound, the primitive force, the primitive artistic force of the sound. This is a very important connection, very truthful, and very valuable connection which has to be made between the European culture and the roots of the folk music, of the traditional music. Which can be made only when arrived in this spectral stage of musical history, I think. This is interesting, for me and also like an argument, against the excess of abstraction, of artificiality, often present in modern art. That is or should be solved with also a phenomenological approach, I think...


JF: How do you see the relationship in your music between timbre and form?


ID: It is very complicated [laughs]. We haven't [enough] time for this [audience laughter]. For me form doesn't exist. It's an inner necessity of the material, and only that; it's a necessity of an idea, yes? I have an idea, I have a musical idea, an inspiration. To make it alive in sound that is form and nothing else. At the beginning it's nothing, it's reduced, it's like a pill of something, it's very condensed, without any evolution in time, just an instant, but for developing this idea it's necessary to do something, to move, to act. The result of these actions, that is the form. A necessity, not the form as ...


AMA: A pre-established thing that is an imposition, a structuralist imposition.


JF: I guess what I want to get to is, even in the way things unroll - or let me phrase it another way. When you think of the musical material, do you think of it purely in terms of timbre or in terms of timbre as well as in terms of other things?


AMA: The problem is, you can't build with timbres because the problem is that timbre is a transitory phenomena. Noise is also a transitory phenomena that in "classical" musical thinking you eliminate first of all from something which can be reproduced with a certain insurance in order to build a form. This is the problem. But noise is a component in absence of which - globally speaking, we can not have timbre. This is why things are so delicate, in fact, and so ...


ID: Complex.


AMA: Complex and delicate at the same time.


ID: And dangerous...


AMA: And dangerous, yes. You are like a dancer on a wire without any net. Yes, but you can do otherways. Than form is deduced, as I already said before, from a trasformational way of thinking. Couldn't be otherways. This made this material possible to exist. Only in development, in movement, though.

CF: This brings up a topic that I've been thinking about all week and have mentioned it to a few people, and now that I have the chance, I can ask you three this question. Tristan touched on it, as has everybody when he said he used some Tibetan - I gather overtone or throat-singing or some diphonic singing - and that is that we continue to talk about timbre and yet most of the effect - I have to say that my spectral music background is largely, pretty unimpressive. However, I've listened to a lot of it and this is the first weekend that I've had a chance to really hear what goes into it, and everything that I've heard is pitch. That is, as soon as you take timbre apart into its spectral components it's not timbre anymore, it's pitch. And so, it makes me very curious as to how the pitch aspect actually - and in fact phycho-acoustically to hear an overtone is distinctly to not hear a pitch, to hear an overtone is distinctly to not hear timbre just because of the way the gestalt of it works. If you're hearing it as pitch you're not hearing it as part of the timbre, so I'm really curious in the sense in which timbre ....


ID: Very true!...
Audience: [Laughter]


TM: I
think I can add something very important in this. It's transitory, or you said something like this? Transitory phenomenon, and timbre, you know, is very much like this. It's not stable, and you can hear it or look at it in different ways. So you can look at it in the aspect of pitch, or ...

AMA: In fact it's about considering sound as a whole. Spectral music doesn't look at sound in it's classified parameters, in terms of pitch, duration, intensity and timbre, but as a whole phenomenon.


TM: O
h, yeah, of course, yeah, the education is very important. For instance, you can take, you mention organ, an organ sound, or even a cello, you play a low sound on a cello, and whatever, it's a cello sound. But you can hear it and you can listen to it very accurately and you will hear the overtone, and so it becomes pitch or harmony. So it's ambiguous, in fact timbre doesn't exist in a way. It's like common ground where everything comes together. So timbre is amplitude, it's not just pitch. It's amplitude, pitch, it's time...


CF: And yet, it really doesn't exist; we use it expressively independently of the other.


JF: But I would say that for Tristan and I, we don't use it independently. When we're changing pitch we're changing pitch to change the timbre, and when we're making alterations to dynamics, we're making alterations of timbre too...


TM: Or vice versa.


JF:
Yeah, that in fact the reason that the pitches are established in the way they do is we don't see there as being a clear line between harmony and timbre and pitch, these are all aspects of the sound which can be manipulated with more or less precision according to the instruments and the ways of playing.


CF: Are you talking then about timbre?


JF: The global timbre.


CF:
So the texture, then.


JF:
No, no.


CF:
There is a distinction between imitating spectral harmonics with colors because you're adding all kinds of extra harmonics, right?


JF:
Yes but you're making other timbre, you're making orchestral timbre. Grisey used to talk about orchestral synthesis, and that you would synthesize a sound with an orchestra. This is why people go back to Xenakis and Ligeti, the idea of fusion.


AMA: But they're playing with real sounds. Fundamental sounds, not overtones, not multiphonics, etc.


JF: Yes, absolutely, instead of using oscillators to synthesize sounds you use violins, and it brings in other things but also when you do real synthesis often you use noise sources or other waveforms and things that also bring in other components.


CF:
Well, yeah, I suppose we're just talking about differences in language, because in this sense, in a strict - if we're going to talk this way - psycho-acoustic sense, using timbre as an analogy, really, because ...


JF:
You're using the structure of acoustic timbres as an analogy. Timbre is not an analogy. I mean, when you hear an orchestral piece, there's an orchestral timbre, it's not analogy, it's a real timbre.


AMA...
Even the work is an analogical result of the analysis of another timbre, when it becomes music it becomes another - different, real timbre...


CF: Depending on how you want to talk about timbre [laughs]. You might call it a texture, I mean it doesn't fuse into a unitary...


JF: In Ligeti it often fuses into a unity, to a unitary percept. You know that it's not produced by a single source but that doesn't mean it doesn't fuse.


CF: Right. This is all sounding very African actually.
Audience: [Laughter.]


CF: Okay. That was my question, and we could go on...


JF:
You know, I can do some more of this but I want to have some time actually for people to bring up some questions. I'll fill in if people don't have any, but if there are some questions that people here have, since we have everyone together which may not happen again, I would love that people would have a chance. Are there?


Audience #1 (Chris Arrell): How do the composers feel about spectral music becoming something of a school now?


TM: Well I think this happens only in America.
Audience: [Laughter.]


JF: Though to be fair one could argue, I think, that the term started being sort of consistently applied...


TM: Ah, the term, yeah!...


JF: Well, how do you feel about that?


TM: Well, it's like everything else, I mean, in way you cannot teach composition, in a way. So I think you have to make a difference between techniques and style. So you can study and teach spectral techniques, because we know what they are, but when it comes to style, what composers make out of that, do out of that, that's a much more difficult issue and you have heard here, or will, lots of different pieces by different composers who have the same tag - spectral. In fact most of them, I'm not sure about that, and they are very, very different from each other. For instance, the music of [Hugues] Dufourt, I don't think is actually spectral although he's very interested in timbral phenomena. Or the music of Gérard Grisey - well, we started composing music together at the same time, there were some similarity between our styles but more and more we went on different ways. So that part of that so-called spectral music, well you can study, you can analyze, I mean, as you can for every kind of music I suppose. To finish answering this question, I found that it's extremely hard to analyze this kind of music. Well, it seems that it's very hard, since we don't have much music [?] for musical styles, as far as now, at least. As equally our students haven't been yet enough trained into these concepts. Musicologists on the other side are very stiffed in concepts like pitch, duration, timbre, and all these things which they think are precise notions and we think they are not, in fact. But when you have to deal with spectral music, where as I said before, everything in fact is contiguous, everything is {a whole} phenomenon, as what you said about Ligeti, I mean when you have an orchestral texture, which in fact is a timbre. How do you analyze that, you know? Either you look at the way it's been conceived and built - so this is analytical, and you analyze the generation of the thing, or you look at the phenomenological angle, and this is much more difficult in fact. What is the real effect in perception and spectral music in general deals a lot with phenomena of perception, which are much harder to put into categories.


JF: I think Ligeti is a good example. if ones tries to analyze any of his micro-canons and to observe each intervals, it would never get too far, in understanding how things are sounding as a global effect, in a music like Atmospheres, for example. Another second point I wanted to say on the matter is how much different this music used to sound when it was composed. And that there is this phenomenon of  divergence between what you see and  what you listen. But I’d like to ask Iancu and Ana-Maria the same question: How do you see it? People speak about a Romanian Spectral music school. Do you thin it’s a School?


AMA: I used to. Now, less and less. At the beginning of the ’70 a lot of young composers begun to compose a music which, in a way, was respectful of the sonic spectrum. They used the natural resonance, acoustic scales, though a School seemed to come into shape. But it seems that they weren’t enough systematic and determined ion that respect. Anyway, they didn’t arrived to an unity in their conception. Most of them have, by the way, abandoned this trend. The era is now through a very strong individualism. 


Matthew Goodheart: I have a question: You, all four composer are working with traditional ( classical) instruments, even, you often obtain sounds which aren’t at all classical. When I think about other contemporary music trends, non spectral,  the composers concerned by timbre use often also “mechanical” sound sources: I know people who wrote musics for fridges, radiators, things like that... I wonder if you ever found an interesting reproducing sounds deprived by a traditional beauty, compared with the overtones of a trombone. There  are things traditionally considered as being beautiful, as for example the bell sounds, Did you ever thought about composing  spectral music with sounds from a car, or anything like that...


AMA:  Its a noise movement, quite important which conceived things like that, already. But anyway, it is not about spectral music, as there isn’t any theoretical approach, I mean there is on, but completely different...


MG:  I agree, that’s why I say it exists a music mostly focused on timbre than on spectrum. But there is full of crossroads. i wonder only if you could take into account and analyze sounds which are not considered as being beautiful in a traditional way...


AMA: Why not? In fact, using those sounds instead of others it’s not a matter of inner beauty, but of richness, of latent capacity of transformation.


TM: I can speak for myself. I don’t utilize only traditional instruments, but also electronic samplers, and when I reach the limit of the instruments I use the electronics which I obtain with my computer. As for the other aspects of the question, I utilized sounds which, even tot traditional, where not for that matter ugly.  The problem with  that the sounds you mentioned : a fridge, etc, is there is not much to analyze, because they are very stable, plain, therefore not very interesting. Natural sounds are much more interesting because in some respect they are chaotic, therefore moving, and this confers them much more interest.


Judith Frangos: You listen yesterday to some traditional Turkish instruments. When this spectral movement appeared in the West, and, from the beginning utilized Western instrument since, it would be fascinating to see the same techniques utilized with traditional instruments - not only Turkish but from any other tradition. I think that the opportunity to investigate the timbre using such unique instruments from a timbral point of view could be a very exciting project.


TM: I have two Brazilian students who composed musics for Birimbau and electronics using spectral techniques, and also Japanese ones really interested in writing for traditional Japanese instruments.


JF: It is sometimes difficult to find the players you need. I was very interested in writing for a gagaku orchestra, and I still am, by the way. But the discussion was elsewhere: that  the most part of musicians have a traditional training and they begin very  reticent if they have to do something completely different from what they were trained to do, But I’m sure it is not  a rule, you just need to find the good ensemble. It is true, that, on the other side, we utilize a  way of scoring which  approaches other music, very different, but in that there is a subsidiary choice. Once you decided to write for Western musicians, playing of Western instruments, except if you didn’t found a group extremely dedicated, you can’t ask them to come back at the beginning, from scratching and learn a new way of playing their instruments. Up top a point  one would even didn’t want to, as there is in this Western pedagogy, the fact that after 25 years of  overwhelming working you arrive at a level of control of your body, of muscles, respiration, etc, which is an extraordinary achievement of humankind. Maybe in an Utopian word we could imagine things differently. And I think also that what makes the difference between Romanian and French spectral music and other spectral music trends is the fact that we all begun to make this music with musicians. There are developments  which happened with ensembles as Hyperion, as l’Itinéraire, and not a kind of cerebral movement  consisting in writing articles, scores to not having been played in the next ten years. It was  about very practical experiences. Hugues Dufourt  - about whom we spoke and who, in some regard, was in a way at a limit of a spectral orientation- one of his best known music he achieved it working in his home with percussionists and experiencing all kind of sounds. Then, in an empirical way he attempted to combine few recording machines together  and see how sounds would melt, what would be the result, to utilize them in order to make a score, afterwards.

Maybe a last question?


Michael Ellison: It’s a very general question,  mainly aesthetic. Iancu, you said your aim is to not become artificial,and I wonder, in a very general way what means artificial  versus natural? Hod  does this affect your approach to music, and I would like to put the same question to all the four composers, if possible?



ID The difference consists, perhaps in the fact that I have an idealistic, philosophical conception. I’m tot a “realist” composer, Maybe  due to the fact that I lived such a big part of my life in a Communist  country and I needed to develop a different point of view than the official one, to discover the freedom. I have therefore an alternative perspective. For me, for example, artificial means to calculate all the parameters, the entire form.


AMA: ... an artificial intelligence...


ID: I wouldn’t call it intelligence. Technology. And  the natural  what is it then? It is spontaneity, I don’t know, maybe there is not such a difference between my attitude and the one of an African musician. I would love to be like him.  Evidently, my  premises are  different but I’m in search of the same kind of freedom. And I’m afraid that the music of too many “scientific” composers is, from my point of view, a deadlock, A limit of thinking but also of the art. As for myself, I try to offer myself new experiences, possibilities, I  try to keep a spiritual openness, each time, to could imagine something new, to develop, to modify, to change. My attitude is an humanistic one, of you wish. 


JF: Ana-Maria, for you...?


AMA: Well, first of all I’d like to clarify that for myself there is an essential difference between exactitude and truthfulness. I think artificial is the exactitude deprived by truthfulness. I’m searching for the Truth. I mean that in music I’m in search for a living experience. Finally, you have to transcend the score, the instruments, you have to get rid of them, otherways  what you’ll do will not be music but something artificial. Burt it’s a difficult training, were the experience of the player  is also as much important as the composer’s.  You can train yourself, you can make all the efforts of the intelligence, but still without succeeding in doing even one drop of music.  This is the final problem, the mystery  for which it worth doing music.  Music is something made with sounds, but it is not the sound itself. It is a thing which becomes, comes from somewhere, directs through a target, has a direction, a living being, a state of mind,  it is above all a transcendence,. To never accomplish that, it means for me, being artificial.


JF: Tristan?


TM: I suppose it is not about definitions. I don’t know very well what the world artificial means. Still, I agree your point of view that music is above all am experience to be lived. I suppose that, literally artifice, artifact- comes from making art. Therefore you can say that the meaning of the art is the artificial, as opposed to the  contemplation of the nature. But in the same time nature is a motel for art, even in the case if the so called spectral music. So I think there is a permanent dialogue between nature and artifact, and that’s the way I conceive the musical phenomenon.  I also would love my music to seems natural. But what do that means? It mans that people could have an intuitive and direct comprehension  of the music, for things which in fact are not natural but cultural and psychological, and so on. Therefore these are the qualities I’m looking for in my music. And that’s why I  seek for my models in the nature, but, in the same time, what  I am doing is a pure artifact.

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