the art of sing

october 20, 2002.

"... now this sends air - for the low notes it is hot air, for the high ones it is cold air - which passes by the vocal cords, and so produces the approximate sound, and then using your inner ear you make it right. And ... wait... this is so brilliant, if you sing like that, the air is hitting you behind the teeth, right there.
Thus that produces a sound like when you hit a crystal glass, with very little energy, you just go ... you give it a small blow, and then it vibrates all by itself. It starts... and then there are these two holes here, at the back of your throat, that end up in... which lead to your nose, and things start to vibrate in your nose, your cranium, and then behind...

If you managed to get everything in place just right for diction, it is all just behind the teeth. And, really, this makes for a very light way to sing, because, if you make a sound by rubbing two pieces of wood together, then as soon as you stop rubbing, the sound stops.
But when you hit a crystall glass, the sound continues.
And it is this what gives an absolutely fabulous impression when one sings, because when you emit a sound, the preceding ones do not stop vibrating...

You know what happened to me the other day at the pianist's?
As I was bloody tired and all, I had a faintness, and usually when I start to have this giddinesses, I stop everything. But there, I continued, and you know what happened?
I couldn't see anything anymore, the music sounded all muffled up, and I began falling forwards, but, as in fact, the process of singing is taking place mainly at a subsconcious level, the singing continued all by itself, and, while I was falling forward, I made this movement -- to redress myself... and because, when you do that - it is as if you're pressing a bunch of grapes - all the alveoli, which are filled with oxygen, in the lungs suddenly discharge
So there was this sudden shot of oxygen through my brain, and it is that which made me come by. And all of a sudden I heard the sounds bloody loud again. And, this is really brilliant, because, during this faintness in fact I felt completely relaxed, and then I understood how... the flexibility on the level of your back, and how to move your ribcage to breathe without... you let enter the air very naturally, by the nose, just by redressing a little bit. This stretches your lungs, and when you stretch the lungs, you empty them.

But then, when they are empty, eh well, the air enters again automatically by the nose, and you do not need to open your mouth, therefore when you sing - folks ask me ' But when do you breathe?' - you never do need to breathe by the mouth, and you can prolong your vocalizing for three miles or more... "

[ C., on 08.10.02, in the afternoon, while having tea at G.'s, in the village of Galey in the French mountains :: related: voicercise ]


october 16, 2002.

Yesterday evening, inside the glass pyramid, which is the main 'overground' entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris, there was one of the too rare occassions to assist at a public rendering of the electronic (or better: tape) music of Iannis Xenakis (1992-2001), as part of a tribute pogrammed for this year's Paris 'Autumn Festival'.

I love Xenakis' electronic works (which form just a small part of his total musical output, actually), but also I have known them only as stereo down-mixes to record: from the long out of print Nonesuch LP 'Electro-Acoustic Music' (1970, catalogue number H-71246), and the recent, essential, CD Electronic Music (2000), which contains the four 'Nonesuch' tracks (Concret PH, Bohor, Orient-Occident, Diamorphoses), the 1970 'polytope' Hibiki-Hana-Ma and one much later work, S.709 (1992).

Polytopes Cover

Bohor and Hibiki-Hana-Ma were on yesterday's program, which started with a third piece, the Polytope de Cluny.

For the occassion part of the pyramid's floor had been delimited by green and yellow tape, and each of the thousand and some visitors was given a little round blue cushion, to sit down upon within the indicated zone, surrounded by eight pairs of loudspeakers. "It made the museum's large reception room resemble the departure hall of one of Paris' main railway stations on a day that the national transport organisations are on strike," commented a journalist in today's edition of Le Monde.

Pretty seventees, but also pretty uncomfortable, really.

Some people decided early enough to lie down on their backs, staring up through the metal framed glass into the Parisian evening sky and onto the surrounding former empirial buildings, but of course there was not enough place for all to do so.
The lying down was pretty much in the spirit of the original version of the Polytope de Cluny, which at the time (1972-1974) was conceived in a truly 'multimedia avant-la-lettre' fashion, and accompanied by an overhead 'light choreography' comprising 600 flash lights, three laser beams and 400 mirrors.
I guess staring up at the static metal frame and glass of the Louvre's pyramid indeed is a pretty poor alternative ...

For quite some time after - quite suddenly - the music had begun, I kept wondering why nobody turned off the surrounding entrances lights, but I guess that must've been a matter of security.

So it seemed best to close ones eyes and concentrate on the sounds...

"And what about the lights?" someone shouted, as about an hour later the final seconds of Hibiki-Hana-Ma had faded away.
"I haven't seen any polytopes!" another guy protested. "All that haven't seen a polytope, raise your hand! We want our money back!"
And then there was one, somewhat later there were two, then there were three, then suddenly there were hundreds that started throwing all of them cushions up and around, all jumping and laughing, unloading, making them blue tissued discs circle and curve over and against our heads.

Now that was fun!

[ Iannis Xenakis - Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition; Markos Zografos - Iannis Xenakis: the aesthetics of his early works ; next related SB-entry: factuals ]

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