Pitagoras, acousmatic and art songs


This is going to be a short thread of thoughts followed by what I mentioned in the previous post, which was originally meant to be part of this year’s « carnet de recherche » for the CRANE’s « rencontres acousmatiques » but I decided to write separately.

This reality ( for me and some others) in which visual images could invite certain type of people with no real interest in music can bring us back to « Acousmatic ». And some of us may be in some way reassured about why we are choosing to do this in the first place. I certainly am.

Wikipedia says;  <<Acousmatic sound is sound that is heard without an originating cause being seen. The word acousmatic, from the French acousmatique, is derived from the Greek word akousmatikoi (ἀκουσματικοί), which referred to probationary pupils of the philosopher Pythagoras who were required to sit in absolute silence while they listened to him deliver his lecture from behind a veil or screen to make them better concentrate on his teachings. The term acousmatique was first used by the French composer and pioneer of musique concrète Pierre Schaeffer. In acousmatic art one hears sound from behind a « veil » of loudspeakers, the source cause remaining unseen. More generally, any sound, whether it is natural or manipulated, may be described as acousmatic if the cause of the sound remains unseen.>>

Realistically as long as music is composed well, visual images are not only  unnecessary but also disturbing. This also applies to pieces that are traditionally composed (for instruments). I have kept my opinion for decades ever since my time at TOHO about art songs being artistically a lot higher than opera, and I do not think I will change my mind. This is partly because of the same reason above. Rather than a long piece that needs « staging » or « productions », the universe of a poem of a few minutes can lead us to much more profound place (as long as the piece is good of course). As for opera I would rather prefer it in a concert performance than being staged.

Having said that, be it acousmatic or classical, music is an « acquired taste » (like many other disciplines). And how that can be achieved may be an eternal question,  given that so-called good education or good teachers can produce students with various level of the « taste ».


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