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Filed under: Art
Tags: music, sound, populism, noise

Utopian Thoughts

Music, that is the law. Music is the maintenance of the law. And sound, sound is the collective effort to define freedom.

Now when people make music, they play this do-re-mi thing, or variations of it, but whatever is played by soloists, ensembles or orchestras, it can always be abstracted to sheet music. So that is the law, a set of rules in music, but also in society. I mean, music is at the heart of society, just like the law is at the heart of society. Symphony orchestras or string quartets play at funerals, marriages, coronations or baptisms of royal families.

Classical music is played live whenever political leaders need ceremonial behaviour. The world is in a beautiful order, that some people call divine, because inspiration was linked to spirit and the head of state was linked to God. The symphony orchestra, the conductor, the shining gold of the instruments, the old concert halls, the red plush, the richness and the modest glamour, it is all still here, with us. And it is okay, because the law was always open to new adaptions and interpretations. In our western world one leader can’t rob an entire country and turn it into his private property. Those days are over. And somewhere in classical music you can hear this glorifying victory of humanity.
Now don’t think that noise is a twentieth century invention... noise... no, not noise, let’s call the extra-musical noises, sound... Yes, let’s call them sound. Music and sound. Noise is a genre and an attitude that with time will disappear. Sound will always remain.

Let’s try to go back in time, when music was music. Of course there were sounds too, and people caught in their daily routine, a routine that brought them satisfaction and not misery, say people who encountered the same people and more or less the same situations every day, on their way to work or elsewhere -these people might have been using all their senses, and found pleasure or satisfaction in seeing beautiful things, in smelling fragrances that send the mind adrift, in tasting good food, and, yes, in hearing trusted sounds, ‘rumori’. They might not have paid attention, but they would have noticed a change. Sounds accommodate.

When music was music, people sang or played, and they danced or they reached a higher level of consciousness. So when music was music, and being played in a room, or outside, or in a vaulted space, the music always sounded different. It sounded different to the lovers and it sounded different to the drunk. It sounded different to the exalted and it sounded different to the musician. What I want to say is, that when music is music, it will always happen that inexplicable sounds emerge from that music. It can happen because of a sudden echo, a reverb, un expected harmony or because of the narcotising effect of sustained sounds.

A group of persons singing their sacred or ritual chants in caves, or in a vaulted space, they hear how the sounds escape from the songs, and an invisible dance commences over their heads, and lifts them up... this effect of music...is it simply sound? The polyphonic chants from shepherds or who-ever would meet on a hill, or, “hey, let’s try this space where the sound bounces back from the rocks”, or “here, let’s go here, where you got this beautiful echo” and then sing into the night and don’t know, that the musical spirals they create echo the big spirals of galaxies in the universe, or perhaps they know... and later, when those Vivaldis and Haydns heard their music executed in churches and noticed how also there the music disappeared in the spaces above their heads and came raining down again on them...wasn’t that a different music they heard, a music they wanted to write down the next time, but couldn’t, because it needed the space to create the mysterious sound?

So, sound, that is our freedom, and sound is also the way how we want to define this freedom. When at the beginning of the twentieth century composers went outside into the world to find new inspiration, they thought of bringing the objects as well. And then came a time that only those objects mattered. And here it happened that sound loosened itself from music, and you saw in society that more and more ideas and people were tolerated in the discussion on how the law should be written and applied. Because that is what happens in a democracy. The existence of sound, the ongoing discussion on how the principle of freedom should be defined and expanded is fundamental to democracy.

It is here that sound works independently from music, and yet there is this great interdependence. It is the same with parliaments and extra- parliamentary movements. There are loads of factions out there, all with their own ideas, and even with their own lifestyles. And now, in our times there is lots of talk of globalisation, gentrification and how all things look the same and shit. And somewhere hidden in all these processes are those artists who dedicate themselves to sounds, or to music as they think it should be played. And the closer you aim your microscopic view on them, the more you realise that all these artists, in their approach, in their networking have created a parallel world, where managers and the models and methods that they brought from the business schools have no access at all. So that is what we have, right now: a movement, an invisible group of people with a really good working bullshit detector. And yet these people have been defining freedom and how this freedom can be used, and nobody knows.

And this, in fact, is a kind of Utopia in a world that sees disasters come from everywhere, a world full of dystopian visions. And somehow I think, this is not necessary. This is not necessary at all, because right at the heart of society you got this unpolished, untreated, independent group of people each with their own vision, their own taste, and their own bullshit detector. Within their own world they don’t need to change anything at all. They should continue doing the things they are doing, even now, in these so called dark times.

There is only one thing that should change, and that is that people who through writing, image and spoken word can reach out to the one hundred thousands should pay attention to this invisible group. They should create curiosity; and in terms that are used today: they should create a market. And this can happen in the most simple way possible, by paying attention. And then the social experiment can start. Because if the artists who struggle to sell their works, and hardly find one paid gig, would find themselves with money to spend, then, I think, it is very well possible that different ideas will become visible and enter our society on a local level, and from one local level spread out to other local levels. You might want to tell a journalist to take notice of this.