[NetBehaviour] Music, moons apart

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Jan 26 17:21:45 CET 2018

you seem to be walking by the crackling fires or waves of something, river or burning pathway,
but your early lines in the text on music and instruments, and what i always considered your love for and curiosity
in instruments, made me think of you / of the other day.

I was in Houston and one quiet morning went to the Asia Society, a small marvel of a museum, and there they
had a fascinating exhibition on view, upstairs, i was nearly all alone and walked around " ART & ISLAM THROUGH TIME & PLACE".

I saw an instrument there that amazed me. 

A Sarinda, carved from a single piece of wood, with stretched animal hide, strung with gut, the instrument looked old and a little brittle
(created in India I believe), it is played with a bow, the wall text tells us.  There is also an epigraph on the wall, nearby -

 'Should the moon meet us apart / May the Sun find us together'  

but it turned out to be by an Egyptian artist, not connected to the Sarinda.  Have you played one, and if this one was several hundreds of years old, how would it sound?

The exhibit, if you are interested, features more than 100  works of art, and showcases the long history, vast geographic expanse, and amazing diversity of works of art in the Islamic world.
Two factors distinguish this exhibition: first, the inclusion of works from Southeast Asia and East and West Africa, areas largely overlooked in most exhibitions of Islamic art; and second, modern and contemporary works are featured side-by-side with historic objects. Works in the exhibition cover nearly all media, ranging from carpets to dress to jewelry, ceramics, glass, metal, paintings, prints, calligraphy and photographs. (museum website)

with regards
Johannes Birringer

 Alan Sondheim [sondheim at panix.com]     Sent: 23 January 2018 23:49


I create music because I find music a problem.
I play thinking about that problem, that set of problems.
For example, embodiment and sound.
For example, thought and sound.
Or the obdurate in music, or what constitutes attention.
Or the withdrawal of attention, and then, procedures.
Or not procedures but unconscious choice.
Which then returns to procedures and a kind of exhaustion.
Or the instrument itself, instruments themselves.
And what constitutes the tending of these instruments.
What constitutes their embodiment and sound.
And what of the thinking of these instruments.
Their obdurate.
The attentiveness necessary for the production of sound.
And what are the channels of sound through and around them.
What of their relation to us, their beings to us.
The semiotics of sound which is always already behind us.
The semiotics of silence which is always before us.
The sound which is yet to be produced.
The memory of sound which has been produced.
The memory of structure and of structures of structures.
The attentiveness to that memory.
The withdrawal of attentiveness from that memory.
And the unwieldiness of this situation.
Or these situations.
And the obdurate or dynamics of that unwieldiness.
So there is this set of problems and pleasure plays no part.
Or pleasure or unpleasure surrounds this set.
Surrounds this set as forgotten or as a diacritical mark.
The mark which tethers the music to the social or example.
Or to accomplishment for example.
Or the lack of accomplishment.
Or the aegis of failure or success.
So that I am not a musician or am a faux musician.
Or am a musician manque or a failed musician.
Or someone walking near a parapet in the fog.
The walkway along the bank of a nighttime river.
The sound of the water moving slowly.
The lights by which I insist this is not a program.
Nor programmatic music nor a lyric.
It is a walk by the Thames on a rainy night.
It is March 1824 and the moon is new.

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