[NetBehaviour] Music, moons apart

Alan Sondheim sondheim at gmail.com
Fri Jan 26 22:24:14 CET 2018

Hi Johannes, we're in NY but a somewhat quick reply. I've played sarinda,
it's even on one of my recordings (forget which), is related also to the
The one I had was from Baluchistan and was amazingly decorated. Azure and I
gave it to the National Music Museum in South Dakota, which is the main
such place in the U.S.; it's well taken care of there.
It was a unique instrument and probably dated from the early 20th- century.
They're hard to date. They're also hard to play!
The writing came out of really thinking about what I do, and that, for me,
the sound/music is connected to philosophy, to difficulty; it's not exalted
playing but a form of work I learn from, especially the places that tend to
open up.
Thanks! , Alan

On Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 11:21 AM, Johannes Birringer <
Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> Alan
> 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)
> https://asiasociety.org/texas/exhibitions/wondrous-worlds-
> art-islam-through-time-place
> with regards
> Johannes Birringer
> ________________________________________
>  Alan Sondheim [sondheim at panix.com]     Sent: 23 January 2018 23:49
> http://www.alansondheim.org/uv24.jpg
> http://www.alansondheim.org/parlorrain.mp3
> http://www.alansondheim.org/uv14.jpg
> 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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