September 2, 2013

hearing landscape critically – latest updates

Filed under: hearing landscape critically — ABRAXAS @ 10:22 pm

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Due to unforeseen circumstances Richard Taruskin will not be able to attend the Hearing Landscapes Critically conference. We are, however, glad to announce that Carol Muller from the University of Pennsylvania has confirmed that she will deliver a key note address at the conference.

Please find here the link to the page where the finalized conference programme can be downloaded : http://musiclandscapeconference.wordpress.com/programme/

Kind regards,

Hearing Landscapes Critically Organising Committee

September 1, 2013

society of the spectacle – dutch premiere on 17 september during incubate festival, tilburg

Filed under: kaganof short films — ABRAXAS @ 11:12 am


Lowave is pleased to inform you that we have been invited by Incubate Festival in Tilburg to programme 4 film blocks this year. The event runs from 16-22 September in the city of Tilburg, Holland and specializes in cutting-edge experimental music, installations and cinema. (http://incubate.org/2013/)

The festival takes place in various venues across the city and the location for our screening is at Duvelhok. You can see some pics of the location here:

We have curated 3 film blocks based on the themes: City stories (Urban tales), African (The African time machine) and Arab scenes (Under (Self)Surveillance). The forth block is a presentation by Super8 filmmaker Helga Fanderl titled Anima(ls). Please find more details about the programme and the film list attached.

Projection schedules:
Tuesday 17 September, 8pm: The African time machine

August 31, 2013

Giacinto Scelsi – The Works for Viola | Xnoybis – II

Filed under: Giacinto Scelsi,music — ABRAXAS @ 4:42 pm

Vincent Royer, viola
First recording

Volume 9 of Mode’s Scelsi Edition is devoted to the first complete recording of Giacinto Scelsi’s works for viola solo and duo.

In Xnoybis, Scelsi’s exploration “into the inside of the sound” is taken to its extreme. A central tone, variously colored and surrounded, moves in microtonal steps — no melody in the traditional sense, but a sole wandering sound. This is the first recording of the viola version in a transcription by Vincent Royer.

Violist Vincent Royer is one of the most outstanding performers of contemporary music today. Mr. Royer, who was born in France but now lives in Cologne, Germany, is among a handful of musicians who have truly mastered the works of the Spectral composers, such as Gerard Grisey. In his hands, these challenging and complex works give way to new forms of musical expression that are mysterious, powerful and filled with beautiful colors. A key to his deep understanding of new music is his close collaboration with living composers, like Horatiu Radulescu and Tristan Murail, two important composers with whom Royer has enjoyed a close working relationship.

Liner notes by Friedrich Jaecker and Sharon Kanach.

August 30, 2013

Jonathan Cross: Landscapes of melancholy: A tree of strings

Filed under: 2014 - Marikana Symphony,hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 7:13 pm


The Highland Clearances, which took place in the Scottish Highlands in the 18th and 19th centuries, witnessed the displacement of a large number of established communities by aristocratic landowners in the name of an agricultural enclosure process. The impact on the Gaelic-speaking peoples of the Scottish islands was devastating. Islands such as Skye and Raasay in the Inner Hebrides were turned into empty landscapes. In his long poem An Cuilitheann/The Cuillin, the Raasay-born Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean (19111-1996), writes of the ghosts of the perpetrators of the Clearances who dance on the eponymous mountain, while the cries of the evicted echo below. The Cuillin, too, responds, rocking and shrieking on its torn bedrock. It is a landscape of melancholy represented in sound. In his poem Hallaig, McLean finds that these dislocated people still remain. ‘They are still in Hallaig, / MacLeans and MacLeods, / all who were there in the time of Mac Gille Chaluim: / the dead have been seen alive.’ It is also a landscape, then, of memory.


The English composer Harrison Birtwistle (born 1934) lived for a period on Raasay in the 1970s, where MacLean was his neighbour. It was from one of MacLean’s poems that Birtwistle later took the line The tree of strings as the title for his string quartet of 2007, in which he too crafts a response to the history of the Clearances. The work makes no attempt either to paint the island directly in sound or to reference the lost music of Raasay. Rather, the quartet explores the idea of the island’s emptiness from a (geographical and temporal) distance, where lost voices are refracted through an imagined memory. The result is poignantly melancholic.

Yet the works of both artists are not fixed in Raasay. For MacLean, the Scottish island landscapes, which bear the scars of past cruelties and injustices, continue to speak to the crimes and horrors of the 20th century at large. For Birtwistle, the melancholic sounds of ancient pastoral landscapes speak profoundly of the wider losses of late modernity. In animating silence and emptiness, poet and composer encourage new, critical ways of listening to the fractured voices of the present.


Jonathan Cross (Oxford) is professor of musicology at the University of Oxford, and tutor in music at Christ Church, Oxford. He has written, lectured and broadcast widely on issues in musical modernism, and on musical theory and analysis. His acclaimed volume The Stravinsky legacy was published in 1998 by Cambridge University Press, and he is editor of the Cambridge companion to Stravinsky (2003). He has also made a particular study of the work of the living British composer Harrison Birtwistle, including Harrison Birtwistle: man, mind, music (Faber & Faber, 2000), and a monograph on Birtwistle’s landmark opera The mask of Orpheus (Ashgate, 2009). He has served as editor of the journal Music Analysis and is currently an associate editor of Grove music online. He is completing a critical biography of Stravinsky for Reaktion Press.

lindelwa dalamba and Jonathan Eato: Umhlaba Wethu: landscape in the Eastern Cape jazz imaginary

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 7:08 pm


We all exist in a physical relationship with landscapes. We move through them constantly – adapting, destroying, working, leaving, and returning to them. However, much of our movement through landscapes is imaginary. We divide, reclaim, describe, and variously evoke them, so that the spaces we inhabit gradually organise themselves into our landscapes. According to Janowski and Ingold (2012), landscapes are ‘imagined’ in a sense more fundamental than their symbolic representation in words, images and other media. Less a means of conjuring up images of what is ‘out there’ than a way of living creatively in the world, imagination is immanent in perception itself. The ways in which we move through and create landscapes are an important part of who, and how, we are able to be. As this involves so much physical and imaginative motion, it is perhaps surprising that our jazz landscapes can seem peculiarly static in their tellings; the modern city seems firmly entrenched in jazz and vice versa. The jazz-city dyad certainly resonates clearly in the historiography of South African jazz, and various novelists, poets, journalists and musicians have maintained this sounding. Indeed, this duality is one thing that separates jazz from other neo-traditional musics in South Africa, for example maskanda, where migrancy and movement between town and country are paramount for the very development of the style. Although it can seem that once South African jazz musicians arrived at a metropolis they stayed put, we would like to argue that this understanding is overly reductive and lacks the depth of perspective that musicians have constructed into South African jazz landscapes. Our focus for this paper will be Eastern Cape jazz that confounds simple urban-rural divides and captures musicians’ various movements through their landscapes.

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Lindelwa Dalamba lectures music history at the WITS School of Art.

Jonathan Eato lectures in music at the University of York, UK.

James Davies: Instruments of empire

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 7:03 pm


This paper links the island of Java, metropolitan London and rural South Africa. It reflects on the space of empire, and nineteenth-century musical instruments conceived to play into that space, or to ‘annihilate distance,’ particularly in the work of Charles Wheatstone, instrument inventor and Chair of Experimental Philosophy at King’s College, London. I’m interested in connections between landscapes of ‘British Dominion,’ Wheatstone’s experiments on sound conductance, his telegraphic/telephonic fantasies, popular science, the dissemination of useful knowledge, and the imperial search for a truly global instrument – one tuned to the ‘scale of nature’ and capable of ‘speaking’ a universal musical language.


I will focus on the sixth of Wheatstone’s Lectures on sound presented in 1835 at King’s College, London. Wheatstone laid before the London public a free-reed talking machine or vowel synthesiser, a Chinese sheng, Chladni figures, and an oversized Javanese gendèr, which Sir Thomas Raffles, ‘Father of Singapore’ and former Lieutenant-General of Java, had brought back from the East. In these performances, sound was figured as an enigmatic force for propagation, a way of collapsing space – extolled as an annihilator, or (more benignly) as a political force for global intercommunication and understanding. Not all of Wheatstone’s instruments conducted sound through wires. But even these would eventually have the effect of acting as transportable technologies important to networking the imperial landscape.


One was the Wheatstone concertina, a laboratory prototype of which appeared as an acoustic demonstration device during the 1835 lectures. Later versions of Wheatstone’s multi-‘tongued’ reed instrument would be advertised as the sound of ‘British Dominions and Colonies.’ They were taken to the Antarctic by Shackleton, Central Africa by Livingstone, and were instruments of choice for colonial missionaries. In South Africa, the concertina had many names – the squashbox, izibambo zika Satan (Satan’s handles), or as Zulu migrant workers named it, after a cheaper Italian derivative, the Ibastari. This paper will reflect on the political reach of such technologies, addressing issues of migration, temperament, portability, and expropriation. It will draw on insights from sound studies, cultural geography, the history of science, organology, and music studies.

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James Q Davies (California, Berkeley) is assistant professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley. He trained as a pianist in Johannesburg (at Wits with Malcolm Nay and Pauline Nossel), Manchester, and London. In Cambridge (UK), he wrote his doctoral dissertation on ‘1829’ in 2005, before becoming junior research fellow in music at Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge. His book, Romantic anatomies of performance is due to be published by University of California Press later this year. It explores economies of piano-playing hands and operatic voices in Paris and London. Articles and chapters on a range of topics appear in 19th-Century Music (2003), Opera Quarterly (2005 and 2012), Cambridge Opera Journal (2005), Journal of the Royal Musical Association (2006), Keyboard Perspectives (2010), and The arts of the prima donna in the long nineteenth century (Oxford, 2011).

Mark Duby: My native country: Place, landscape, and memory in some South African accounts of exile

[T]he Leader’s anger done, grant me the right to die in my native country. Ovid, Tristia

In this paper, I consider the roles of place, landscape, and memory in some South African accounts of exile. I focus on recordings, photographs, personal narratives, and auto-ethnographic perspectives that tell musical stories of both ‘exiles’ and ‘residents,’ often classified simply as those who left or those who stayed behind.

To my mind, this unexamined binary precludes the possibility of a third ground – ‘those who wish to be elsewhere.’ For a certain class of residents, ‘elsewhere’ may have involved an imaginary Europe, to which these individuals were tied by virtue of cultural links to a close or distant ancestry. For exiles, the homesickness and sense of being a foreigner in a strange land would lead them to wish to be home even under the dire circumstances of apartheid. I explore this notion of a third ground by drawing on the work of Jeff Malpas (1999, 2006) and Ed Casey (1993, 1998, 2000) who theorise place, respectively, as critically constitutive of identity and entirely subjugated to the philosophical concept of space.

In addition, I share some more personal thoughts on my early experiences as a musician in Cape Town as well as during a later period spent in Europe at the end of the 1970s. Through various narrative accounts the uniting thread is the relationship between place, landscape, and memory in Cape Town, as lived out in the personal and musical biographies of participants in a particularly turbulent time in South African history.

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Marc Duby (University of South Africa) was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where he obtained a BA degree (majoring in English) from the University of Cape Town in 1975, having begun his professional career as electric and acoustic bassist in that city in 1972. He returned from overseas to begin musical studies at UCT in 1980, culminating in the award of the first masters’ degree in jazz performance (cum laude) in Durban in 1987, under the supervision of Prof Darius Brubeck. Duby completed his PhD thesis at the University of Pretoria in 2007 on the topic of soundpainting, the framework for live composition developed by the New York composer/saxophonist Walter Thompson. In a professional career spanning more than four decades, Duby has worked professionally with a wide range of local and international musicians, including Feedback, Syd Kitchen, Steve Newman, Darius Brubeck, Barney Rachabane, Feya Faku, Winston ‘Mankunku’ Ngozi, Jonathan Crossley, Philip Tabane, Paul Hanmer, the Kalahari Surfers, Nataniël, François Jeanneau (France), Sanjoy Bandophadyaye (India), and Ernest Ranglin (Jamaica) among many others. Awarded established researcher status in 2010 by the National Research Foundation, he has presented academic papers in Bologna, New Orleans, Spain, Greece, and Cambridge University, as well as serving as visiting lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and Universidad Veracruzana (México). His research interests include improvisation, embodiment, critical theory, jazz studies and philosophy of mind, as well as semiotics, phenomenology, music cognition and perception. A prize-winning composer of film music, Duby is active as a performer, composer/arranger and music educator, and currently serves as professor of musicology in the Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Musicology at the University of South Africa.

hannelore olivier & Laura du Toit: Klei-klank (Clay-sound): The hearing of a kla’ landscape

Clay kla’
Noun: a stiff, sticky fine-grained earth, typically red, yellow or bluish-grey in color and often forming an impermeable layer in the soil. It can be molded when wet, and is dried and baked to make bricks, pottery and ceramics.
Poetic: The substance of the human body.

The hearing landscape of a ceramic artist’s creative environment is not typically heard or documented in any society. The sound of the rural people from the Transkei (South African Eastern Cape) is also not considered of any importance, although their daily task of breaking the earth for brick-making forms an integral part of their culture. Both work from the earth, using clay for survival.

Klei-klank was inspired by, and originated from, spontaneous organic sounds as byproducts in ceramic artist Laura du Toit’s studio. Human hands interacting with earth; the flow of water used in creation; the staccato pitches of heat escaping from the potter’s fired pieces – all random sounds in the transition of virgin clay to art, and mostly ignored as part of the creative process. But when listening carefully, these random sounds organise themselves eventually into rhythm, timbre, harmony – effortlessly and spontaneously creating a soundtrack for the broken earth.

Hannelore Olivier composed a soundtrack incorporating these unmethodical sounds with acoustic instruments and synthesisers. A drone-tone beat of brick-making as bass-line. The pain of a ruined and broken earth echoes in the dissonance of poli-tonal piano and organ sounds, which fight for harmonic and melodic survival.

This project consists of a sound installation with ceramic objects and soundtrack. The composer and ceramic artist will discuss the creative processes underlying the capture and creation of Klei-klank (Clay-sound).


Laura du Toit is an independent artist who has been working with clay for the past 23 years as a studio potter and also as a teacher. Her training includes a BA (University of Stellenbosch), studies in ceramics and drawing (Paarl Technikon) and a course in oil painting at the Denver Art Museum. Klei-klank (Clay-sound) in 2012, a collaborative work with composer-performer Hannelore Olivier for the Woordfees, is a culmination of the recording of landscapes, sounds and voices in a production as two soundtracks. Photography is another of her main interests, and this genre she combined with her clay work in two solo exhibitions: Element (2008) and Deep field (2010). Recent exhibitions include Women in clay and a commission for the Women’s Memorial, Bloemfontein War Museum. Her work can be found in collections at the Durbanville Clay Museum, Sasol Art Museum and Iziko Social History Museum in Cape Town. Laura favours the ancient slow processes of coiling and pinching clay. Multiple firings allow her to represent her interest in the colours, textures and geological formations found in nature, on earth and in space. Unspoilt virgin landscape has carried her to the top of many mountains and it is on these trips that she finds her inspirational reference.


Hannelore Olivier, an independent artist, has collaborated with numerous film and television producers, directors, fine artists and theatre groups during the past ten years. She works in the capacity of composer, musical director and performer, and has been a lecturer in the Sound Engineering Department at CityVarsity and at SAE in digital music production. Hannelore obtained degrees in music (University of Stellenbosch); honours in psychology (UNISA), and a masters in music technology from the University of Stellenbosch (cum laude). She is the author of Musical networks: the case for a neural network methodology in advertisement music (2005). Her creative style is diverse, and influenced by studies in Western art music, electronic music, as well as the traditional music and sounds of South-East Asia and the Oriental East. She disregards the traditional boundaries of genre, instrumental timbre and cultural restrictions in music, and aims to marry diverse sounds and instruments, mix serious music with popular styles and to fuse ‘western’ with ‘world’ and ‘electronica.’ This musical approach leads to soundscapes which are colourful, ambient and experimental.

coming soon: www.hannelore.co.za

William Fourie: The aesthetics of crime: Urbanscapes and markers of place

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,music,William Fourie — ABRAXAS @ 1:34 pm

South Africa, post-2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, is, according to Sarah Britten (2012) eliciting a grim cultural narrative, dominated by tales of ‘crime’, ‘corruption’, and the ‘impatience of the masses’. This narrative is not isolated to one particular space, rural or urban, but instead permeates the whole country. It is in the urban space, however, that tensions suggested here by the use of the word ‘proximity’, can aggravate these social problems. Based on this premise, the following paper will explore the electroacoustic work Breach by the South African composer Angie Mullins. This work can be heard as a ‘breach’ of personal proximity but I will argue that the work could also be understood to sound larger environmental tensions. These tensions, I posit, are represented aesthetically here as a product suspended between the tropes of ‘proximity’ and ‘breach’, terms that in the context of the work become theoretical tools by which we can understand a notion of ‘the aesthetics of crime’. The question I then pose is whether the representation of the urban space is an attribution to the aesthetics of crime.


William Fourie (Stellenbosch) is a BMus student in his third year at the University of Stellenbosch and specialises in musicology. Under the guidance of Dr Ralf Kohler, his current research focuses on computer music and aesthetics.

Myron Gray: Landscape and soundscape in the construction of order at Philadelphia’s French fête, 1782

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:45 pm


On the evening of July 15, 1782, Philadelphia’s elite convened at the home of the Chevalier de la Luzerne, France’s foreign minister to the United States. They were there to celebrate the birth of Louis XVI’s first son, but were no less glad for their recent success in the War of Independence. In addition to a diplomatic tribute, the event provided a testing space for the nation’s untried political order.


For the occasion, Luzerne had appointed Pierre L’Enfant, the military engineer and future planner of Washington DC, to transform his property into an enchanting garden (an ‘elysium’, according to one attendee) fitted with temporary buildings. It featured an illuminated palace, artificial groves adorned with hanging glass lamps, and a central dance pavilion. L’Enfant’s radial design enabled guests to see the impressive structures – and to hear the orchestra – from the remotest enclaves of the garden. This fostered a surprising conviviality among the invitees, who were otherwise divided along political, economic and cultural lines.

The sight- and soundlines that united constituents on Luzerne’s property, however, also reached beyond it to affect the larger population. For every invited citizen, ten less prominent ones crowded outside the gates. Though excluded, they saw and heard the entertainment through a palisade fence. At ‘old world’ state festivals aristocrats distracted the lower orders with material handouts, for example coins and drink, but L’Enfant’s gift to the masses was sensory inclusion. By blurring divisions between the garden and the city, private and public, rulers and ruled, he turned Luzerne’s grounds into a crucible of the new social order. He positioned the people as eye- and earwitnesses, whose attention conferred legitimacy on the fledgling national leadership. The event was ephemeral, but it engendered a passive mode of political identification that anticipated future applications of media technology.


Myron Gray (Pennsylvania) is a doctoral candidate in historical musicology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research on the politics of ‘Frenchness’ in late eighteenth-century Philadelphia music has been supported by the American Antiquarian Society, the American Musicological Society, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Myron’s work has appeared in the online journal Common-place, and in July he participated in the Mellon Early American Literature and Material Texts Summer Workshop, co-sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. He plans to defend his dissertation in spring 2014.

Stephanus Muller: Spectres of excess

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,kaganof,music,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 8:23 am



Stephanus Muller (Stellenbosch) lectures in musicology in the Department of Music at Stellenbosch University, where he also heads up the Documentation Centre for Music. In this capacity he has produced Aryan Kaganof’s documentary, An inconsolable memory (2013). Muller’s book on the South African composer Arnold van Wyk, Nagmusiek, will be published by fourth wall in 3014.

list of compositions by giacinto scelsi

Filed under: Giacinto Scelsi,music — ABRAXAS @ 8:13 am

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of compositions by Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905–1988). An asterisk (*) indicates that the piece has appeared on recording in the United States.


1 First period (1929-1948)
2 Second period (1952–1959)
3 Third period (1960-1969)
4 Fourth period (1970-1985)

First period (1929-1948)

Chemin du coeur (for violin and piano) – 1929;
Rotative (Symphonic poem for three pianos, winds and percussion) – 1929;
(version for 2 pianos and percussion) – 1938;
40 Preludes (for piano) – 1930-40;
6 Pieces from “Paralipomeni” (for piano) 1930-40;
Dialogo (for cello and piano) – 1932;
Sinfonietta (for orchestra) – 1932;
Tre canti di primavera (for voice and piano) – 1933;
L’amour et le crane (for voice and piano) – 1933;
Tre canti (for voice and piano) – 1933;
Suite No. 2 (for piano) – 1934;
Toccata (for piano) – 1934;
Poems (for piano) – 1934/39*;
Sonata (for violin and piano) – 1934;
Concertino (for piano and orchestra) – 1934;
Trio No. 1 (for violin, cello and piano) – 1936;
Preludio, Ariosa e Fuga (for orchestra) – 1936;
Suite No. 5 (for piano) – unknown;
Suite No. 6 “I Capricci di Ty” (for piano) – 1938/39;
Hispania (Triptych for piano) – 1939;
Sonata No. 1 (for piano) – unknown;
Sonata No. 2 (for piano) – 1939;
Sonata No. 3 (for piano) – 1939;
Sonata No. 4 (for piano) – unknown;
Trio No. 2 (for violin, cello and piano) – 1939;
Variations (for piano) – 1940;
Variations and Fugue (for piano) – 1941;
Ballata (for cello and piano) – 1943;
String Quartet No. 1 – 1944*;
(version for string orchestra) – 1962;
Introduction and Fugue (for string orchestra) – 1945;
La Nascita del Verbo (Cantata for mixed chorus and orchestra) – 1948
Trio (for vibraphone, marimba and percussion) – 1950

Second period (1952–1959)

Suite No. 8 “Bot-Ba: Evocation of Tibet with its monasteries on high mountain summits: Tibetan rituals, prayers and dances” (for piano) – 1952*;
Quattro Illustrazioni “Four illustrations of the metamorphoses of Vishnu” (for piano) – 1953*;
Cinque incantesimi (for piano) – 1953*;
Suite No. 9 “Ttai: A succession of episodes which alternatively express time – or more precisely, time in motion and man as symbolized by cathedrals or monasteries, with the sound of the sacred ‘Om'” (for piano) – 1953*;
Piccola suite (for flute and clarinet) – 1953;
Suite No. 10 “Ka: The word ‘ka’ has many meanings, but the principal one is ‘essence'” (for piano) – 1954*;
Pwyll (for flute) – 1954*;
Three studies (for Eb clarinet) – 1954;
Preghiera per un’ombra (for Bb clarinet) – 1954;
Divertimento No. 2 (for violin) – 1954;
Yamaon (for bass voice and alto sax, baritone sax, contrabassoon, double bass, percussion) – 1954-58;
Action Music (for piano) – 1955;
Divertimento No. 3 (for violin) – 1955*;
Divertimento No. 4 (for violin) – 1955;
Coelocanth (for viola) – 1955*;
Hyxos (for alto flute in G, 2 gongs and cow-bell) – 1955;
Suite No. 11 (for piano) – 1956;
Four Pieces (for trumpet) – 1956*;
Three Pieces (for saxophone or bass trombone) – 1956*;
Four Pieces (for horn in F) – 1956;
Ixor (for reed; Bb clarinet, oboe) – 1956*;
Divertimento No. 5 (for violin) – 1956;
Three Studies (for viola) – 1956;
Three Pieces (for trombone) – 1957*;
Trilogy “Triphon, Dithome, Ygghur” (for cello) – 1957-61/65*;
Rucke di guck (for piccolo and oboe) – 1957;
String Trio – 1958*;
I presagi [The Forebodings] (for 10 instruments, brass and percussion) – 1958;
Tre canti popolari (for four-voice mixed choir) – 1958;
Tre canti sacri (for eight-voice mixed choir) – 1958*;
Kya (for Bb clarinet solo, and seven instruments) – 1959*;
Quattro pezzi su una nota sola [Four pieces each on a single note] (for chamber orchestra) – 1959*

Third period (1960-1969)

Ho “Four Songs” (for soprano voice) – 1960;
Wo-Ma (for bass voice) – 1960;
Hurqualia “A Different Realm” (for large orchestra, with amplified instruments) – 1960*;
String Quartet No. 2 – 1961*;
Aion “Four Episodes in one Day of Brahma” (for orchestra) – 1961*;
Taiagaru “Five Invocations” (for soprano voice) – 1962;
Riti “Ritual March” (version for Achilles, for four percussionists) – 1962;
(version for Alexander, for tuba, double bass, contrabassoon, electric organ & percussion) – 1962;
(version for Carl the Great, for cello and 2 percussionists) – 1967;
Khoom “Seven episodes of an unwritten tale of love and death in a distant land” (for soprano voice, horn, string quartet & percussion) – 1962*;
20 Canti del Capricorno (for soprano) – 1962-72*;
String Quartet No. 3 – 1963*;
Hymnos (for large orchestra) – 1963*;
Chukrum (for string orchestra) – 1963*;
Xnoybis “The ability of energy to ascend to the spirit” (for violin) – 1964*;
String Quartet No. 4 – 1964*;
Yliam (for female choir) – 1964;
Duo (for violin and cello) – 1965*;
(version for violin and double bass) – 1977;
Anahit “Lyric Poem on the name of Venus” (for violin and 18 instruments) – 1965*;
Anagamin “The one who is faced with a choice between going back and refusing to” (for 12 strings) – 1965;
Ko-Lho (for flute and clarinet) – 1966*;
Elegia per Ty (for viola and cello) – 1958/66*;
Ohoi “The Creative Principles” (for 16 strings) – 1966;
Uaxuctum “The Legend of the Maya City which destroyed itself for religious reasons” (for 4 vocal soloists, ondes martenot solo, mixed choir and orchestra) – 1966*;
Ko-Tha “Three Dances of Shiva” (for guitar) – 1967;
(version for double bass) – 1972;
(version for six-string cello) – 1978*;
Manto I, II, III (for viola and female voice) – 1967;
Ckckc (for soprano voice and mandolin) – 1967;
Natura renovatur (for 11 strings) – 1967;
Tkrdg (for 6-voice male choir, electric guitar and percussion) – 1968;
Okanagon “Okanagon is like a rite, or if you will, like grasping the heartbeat of the Earth” (for harp, tamtam & double bass) – 1968*;
Konx-Om-Pax “Three aspects of sound: as the first motion of the immovable, as creative force, as the syllable ‘om'” (for mixed choir, and orchestra) – 1969*;

Fourth period (1970-1985)

Il est grand temps (for voice) – 1970;
Meme si je voyais (for voice) – 1970;
Three Latin Prayers (for voice) – 1970*;
Antifona “on the name of Jesus” (for male choir) – 1970*;
Nuits (2 pieces; for double bass) – 1972*;
Pranam I “In memory of the tragic losses of Jani and Sia Christou” (for soprano voice, 12 instruments & tape) – 1972;
L’ame ailee (for violin) – 1973*;
L’ame ouverte (for violin) – 1973*;
Arc-en-ciel (for two violins) – 1973*;
Sauh I & II (for two female voices) – 1973;
Sauh III & IV (for four female voices) – 1973;
Pranam II (for nine instruments) – 1973*;
Voyages (2 pieces; for cello) – 1974*;
Et maintenant c’est a vous de jouer (for cello and double bass) – 1974;
Kshara (for two double basses) – unknown;
To the master “Two improvisations” (for cello and piano) – 1974;
Manto “per quattro” (for voice, flute, trombone and cello) – 1974;
In Nomine Lucis (2 pieces; for electric organ) – 1974*;
Aitsi (for electronically prepared piano) – 1974*;
(version as String Quartet No. 5) – 1985*;
Le réveil profond (for double bass) 1977;
Pfhat “A flash… and the sky opened!” (for mixed choir and large orchestra) – 1974*;
Maknongan (for low-voice instrument: double bass, contrabassoon, etc) – 1976*;
Daharma (for Cello and Double Bass) – 1986*;

Christabel Stirling: Listening in ruins: Aural atmospheres of the historical present

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What would a history of place look like if it were conceived through the ethnographic ear and body? In what ways does aurality and sentience embody the freight of a place’s past, the dissenting forces that comprise its present and future? Where – amidst the complex relations between sound, selfhood, landscape, and historical time – do atmospheres come from, and moreover where do they leave us? Seeking to address these questions, this paper elevates the sensory, sonic and affective realms of experience as a methodological means of examining places and their histories. It is argued that sound, which encrypts the movement between objects, bodies, and matter, has a special capacity to render the processes and change inherent in place; while affective atmospheres mediate our aural perception in ways that pry into the socio-cultural significations we attribute to sounds, opening up liminal spaces that disturb the historical stability of the landscape. Focusing on a collaborative installation sound work that took place in Orford Ness, Suffolk (2012), a historically opaque ruin deliberately shrouded in secrecy, I then ask what a historicism that takes seriously the sonorous and affective event might have to attend to. I suggest that by changing the relational nature of a particular sonic spatio-temporal assemblage, installation sounds works forge new subject-object, inter- and intra-subjective connections and discontinuities in place that engender the emergence of new historical environments. They side-track perspectives, generate diversions, and allow spaces to speak in unsuspecting ways, revealing the palimpsest-like qualities of our terrain. Thus, in a bid towards a more far-reaching ‘non-cochlear’ sonic art (Kim-Cohen, 2009), sound works might be seen as an oblique, non-linear historical tool, eliciting glimpses of pasts and futures becoming present that are ‘always there’ in virtual co-presence, but that may otherwise never surface.


Christabel Stirling (Oxford) is currently pursuing a doctorate in music at Oxford University where she holds an Ertegun Graduate Scholarship in the Humanities, working under the supervision of Georgina Born. She completed an MA in popular music studies at Oxford Brookes University in 2012 funded by an AHRC award, and prior to this, obtained a bachelor of music from King’s College London in 2011. In her PhD research, Christabel works on questions surrounding the socialities of co-present musical publics and crowds in London. In particular, she focuses upon the technological and affective mechanisms by which subjects are individuated or aggregated through music, and the ways in which the spatial location or incidence of a musical event inflects how its public is micro- and macro-socially mediated. Her other research interests include dancing and dance music cultures post 1950, music and urban geography, and theories of affect and embodiment in relation to music, sound, and spatial politics.

Mareli Stolp: Post-everything poster boy: Spoek Mathambo’s Control as urban landscape

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 12:52 am

In 2010, South African musician Spoek Mathambo released his debut album, Mshini Wam. This album was enthusiastically received both locally and internationally, and has been hailed as breaking new ground in South African popular music. Mathambo’s unique brand of house music is deeply rooted in American rap and house and British dubstep traditions, combined with elements of South African kwaito, Afro-fusion and Afro-dance.

Included on the album Mshini Wam is a cover version of a 1979 song entitled Control, by the British post-punk band Joy Division. An award-winning music video for Mathambo’s version of this track, created by South African photographer Pieter Hugo and shot on location in Langa Township, Cape Town, provides a powerful depiction of life in a South African township, and plays on various issues such as ritual cleansing, initiation ceremonies, teen gangs and township cults. The disturbing events depicted in the video – children caught in the thralls of epileptic-type fits, being subjected to torture and physical abuse or doused in and excreting black and white fluids – are accompanied by a driving dance rhythm and pulsing bass line. This is dance music with a very grim beat.

Mathambo’s combination of musics with agency in black cultural production with post-punk idioms allows for a musical language that reveals his interests beyond his own immediate musical heritage. Mathambo’s Control depicts a complex and multilevelled urban landscape. Another level of complexity is added through the dichotomous relationship between the disconcerting visual material and the easy listening dance music that accompanies it.

The urban township landscape visually depicted in the music video for Control and musically represented by the composed material is essentially South African, particularly in the way it samples musics from different areas of our musical lineage, but also in the free engagement with international musical styles past and present. This paper will attempt to deconstruct the musical landscape created by Mathambo in a post-apartheid, post-rainbow nation South Africa, and to show ways in which this music confounds simple definitions of urbanity, race and musical heritage in South Africa today.

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Mareli Stolp (Rhodes, Grahamstown) is a lecturer at the Department of Music and Musicology at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. She completed a practice-based research PhD in 2012 at Stellenbosch University, and is currently active as both performer and researcher. The integration of practice and research constitutes her main academic focus.

Michael Titlestad: The South African life and afterlife of Jim Reeves

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 12:04 am


Jim Reeves’ mellifluous ‘Nashville sound’ made him the most global country singer of all time. He enjoyed widespread popularity in, among others, East Africa, India, Ireland and Scandinavia. His relationship with South Africa was, and has remained, deep and abiding: he toured the country twice (in 1962 with Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer, and in 1963), he recorded in Afrikaans, and, this was the only country in which he was repeatedly mobbed by thousands of fans. In 1963 he made his only film, Kimberley Jim, during his three-week stay.


Reeves is renowned for being a singer far more famous after his death than while he was alive, but his afterlife in South Africa has been remarkable and particular. Not only has he continued to be one of the top selling recording artists, he spawned a number of local imitators and fundamentally influenced the style and repertoire of South African country music. His Afrikaans songs were reissued on CD again this year.

The paper seeks to explore, through press reportage at the time of the tours, radio broadcasts, and interviews with contemporary country musicians, the nature of, and reasons for, Reeves’s South African popularity and legacy. Using the two biographies of Reeves (by Michael Striessguth 1998 and Larry Jordan 2012), as well as the cultural studies work of Richard Pells and others regarding the circulation of American popular culture and its recuperation in various contexts, it argues that the self-consciously urbane Reeves represented an ideal habitus – and offered explicit acceptance – in the increasingly isolated South Africa of the 1960s.

Along with the international credibility his presence suggested, the field of country music, its pioneer ideology and iconography, offered a symbolic language to an increasingly defensive population. I argue that the ‘Nashville sound’ specifically – with its smooth, urban version of roots music – provided the perfect ameliorative, anodyne soundscape in a community tussling with accusations of its parochialism and anachronism. I conclude with a series of complicating questions relating to the enormous popularity of Reeves among black South Africans and elsewhere in Africa.


Michael Titlestad (Witwatersrand) is an associate professor, head of the Department of English and deputy Head of the School of Literature, Language and Media at the University of the Witwatersrand. He publishes widely in the fields of South African literary and cultural studies, and on maritime literature. In addition, Michael is an editor of both literary and scholarly publications. He makes a lot of mistakes, but not often grammatical ones.

August 29, 2013

Gavin Williams: Imagining Crimea

Filed under: hearing landscape critically — ABRAXAS @ 10:58 pm


In the first of his 1855 Sevastopol sketches, Leo Tolstoy guided his readers through a city at the heart of the Crimean War. He offered an intimate, second-person tour of an idyllic landscape repeatedly punctured by sights and sounds of violence – above all the eruption of cannon fire, which ‘shakes you to the core and inspires you with a profound sense of dread’. His Sketches encapsulate what Peter Brooks has called the ‘oblique’ relationship between realism and melodrama. They were published in newspapers and eagerly read by a Russian elite, yet owing to these Sketches, Tolstoy is routinely counted among the first modern war correspondents.


In this paper, I take Tolstoy’s resonant panorama as my cue for a broad inquiry into contemporary imaginations of Crimea – the peninsula devastated by several notorious theatres of war and the site of much attention from international news media at the middle of the century. Alongside journalistic representations such as Tolstoy’s, I will consider another crucial medium in the nineteenth-century experience of wartime: the military theatrical entertainment. Newspaper coverage resulted in a rush of such melodramas in European capital cities. I will focus in particular on those rapidly assembled in London in response to battles at Alma and Sevastopol. These entertainments offered the public sonorous evocations of battlefields, providing counterpoint to well-known (and famously unpeopled) landscape photographs of the time. They also provided an enhanced sense of the Crimean War as a ‘war at a distance’ (a term recently discussed by Mary Favret). What is more, I argue that melodramas gave voice to contrasting and contested perspectives on the war, above all through the semantic excess of noisy sound effects. My paper ultimately argues both for a political interpretation of these melodramatic sounds, pervading as they do the war’s legacies of journalistic, literary and artistic realism.

Gavin Williams (Cambridge) has recently ended a stint as a graduate student at Harvard University where he wrote a PhD dissertation about music, noise and crowds in Milan ca. 1900. Next month, he starts at Jesus College, Cambridge, as a research fellow.

Flora Wilson: London, Paris, New York: Opera’s global networks c. 1890

Filed under: hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 10:41 pm


During the 19th century, opera became a global phenomenon. Beginning with the dissemination of Rossini’s unprecedentedly popular works in the 1820s, operatic culture spread from its strongholds in major European cities to new urban markets on other continents. By the end of the century, opera’s worldwide transit had become an essential characteristic of the art form – one in dialogue with a complex layering of communication networks. In this paper I seek to explore this fundamental mobility by focussing on one particular instance of opera on the move: the paradigmatic international path taken by the renowned soprano Nellie Melba.

Born in Australia, Melba moved to Paris in 1886 to complete her training. Following her European debut in Brussels in 1887, she spent much of the next half-decade travelling between London and Paris – cities whose competing claims to be ‘capital of the 19th century’ were staked in this instance on attempted appropriations of this most distantly travelled soprano star. Melba’s peregrinations around Europe’s major cities in the early 1890s followed long-established routes, but in 1893 she crossed the Atlantic to make a wildly successful debut at the newly rebuilt Metropolitan Opera in New York. My paper examines the consequences of Melba’s American triumph and of the changing operatic order it seemed to epitomise. Taking a cue from recent calls in the history of technology for ‘use histories’ able to address the persistence of the old after the dawning of the new, I place Melba’s New York success in a larger geographical context, considering its effects in the venerable operatic centres she had left behind. I want, in other words, to consider how opera’s expanding topography at the end of the 19th century complicated its status and discourses in an increasingly anxious Old World.


Flora Willson (Cambridge) is a junior research fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, where her research centres on nineteenth-century opera and urban culture. She has published academic articles and reviews in Cambridge Opera Journal; Cambridge Verdi encyclopedia (forthcoming from CUP), Nineteenth-century Music Review and the Journal of Modern Italian Studies, and is currently working on a book about operatic exchanges between London and Paris in the later 19th century. She writes regular reviews for Opera, has given pre-performance talks at Barbican, English National Opera, Glyndebourne and Royal Opera House, and has appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 3. She is the editor of a new critical edition of Donizetti’s Les martyrs, due to be recorded for Opera Rara in 2014 by Sir Mark Elder and the OAE.

Lizabé Lambrechts & Ernst van der Wal: Lingering absences: Hearing landscape through memory (An experiment)

This exhibition offers a visual and auditory perspective on the dynamics of opera production in a time and in places subject to involuntary removals of coloured communities in Cape Town. The Eoan Opera Group was founded in 1933 by Helen Southern-Holt as a cultural and welfare organisation for the coloured community in District Six, Cape Town, which developed to include an amateur opera company that produced the first full-scale opera performances in South Africa. In spite of growing apartheid legislation during the latter half of the 20th century, the Eoan Opera Group continued to play an active role in the cultural life of Cape Town, presenting eleven opera seasons, two arts festivals and numerous tours over a period of two decades. During the 1960s the Group Areas Act gradually edged the Eoan Group out of the centre of Cape Town’s cultural life. District Six was zoned for white occupation, and legislation increasingly enforced racial segregation. By 1969 the group was relocated to the Joseph Stone Theatre in Athlone. This move seemed to be a watershed moment for the group, as from this time onwards support from the white community diminished due to the difficulties of attending concerts in a coloured area. The group was also politically compromised in their own community because they accepted funding from the Department of Coloured Affairs, a contentious apartheid institution that drew heavy criticism from coloured communities for its entrenchment of racist policies. By the 1980s, Eoan was performing to empty concert halls.

Eoan Group

Presenting both physical and lost localities, as well as imagined, political, personal, bureaucratic and cultural landscapes, this exhibition investigates the various layers of history and memory that sediments the Eoan Group’s complex legacy. Instead of presenting a contained and resolved historical narrative of the Eoan Group, this exhibition provides a space for experimentation. It is a site that tests the degree to which memory, archival material, music and noise can act as sites of interaction and interchange. By following the grain of the voice and the traces of memory, this project traverses the Isaac Ochberg Hall in District Six, the Cape Town City Hall in Cape Town’s city centre and the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, three key sites that stand as markers of the Eoan Group’s relationship to the landscape. As recounted through the memories of members of this group these three spaces bear loaded testimony to the apartheid system’s impact on the human being’s life in sound and image.


Lizabé Lambrechts (Stellenbosch) holds a PhD in musicology on the subject of power and politics in South African music archives. She is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS), Stellenbosch University, where she is working on a project to make a part of South Africa’s unknown music history accessible through sorting, cataloguing and curating the Hidden Years Music Archive.

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Ernst van der Wal (Stellenbosch) obtained his PhD in visual arts at Stellenbosch University, and he is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts. Working under the rubric of cultural studies and art theory he investigates the embodiment and visualisation of queer and/or non-normative identities within post-apartheid South Africa. He has published widely on this subject.

giacinto scelsi – Khoom “Seven episodes of an unwritten tale of love and death in a distant land” (for soprano voice, horn, string quartet & percussion) – 1962

Filed under: Giacinto Scelsi,music — ABRAXAS @ 9:09 pm

The departure point is the disturbing composition by Giacinto Scelsi ‘Seven episodes of a love story and of a non-written death in a faraway land’. Three dancers, a singer and six musicians lead us on a journey where gesture accompanies even the most intimate vibration within the music and where the space, swept by the dance, reflects the depth of Scelsis most particular sounds. Initiated at the Théâtre du Manège in Mons, Khoom is the fruit of a collaboration between the Compagnie Mossoux-Bonté, the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles and the Centre des Ecritures Contemporaines Numériques (Centre for Contemporary Digital Writings).

Giacinto Scelsi – I Riti: Ritual March, “The Funeral of Achilles” –

Filed under: Giacinto Scelsi,music — ABRAXAS @ 6:17 pm

Riti: Ritual March, “The Funeral of Achilles” (1962)
-Giacinto Scelsi

“Giacinto Scelsi, a prominent Italian composer of experimental music, is known for his compositional exploration of sound, specifically his acute approach to individual tones. Where Scelsi usually focuses on the single tones of melodic instruments, he approaches I Riti: Ritual March, “The Funeral of Achilles,” with a focus on rhythmically thematic material. As the rhythmic material repeats throughout the piece, the dynamic constant in each instrument gradually changes, creating continuous shifts of timbre, while maintaining the rhythmic structure. This compositional approach is unique to Scelsi, as this is his only work for percussion ensemble.”

-Program notes by Trevor Saint

This performance by Ensemble 64.8 took place on Nov. 21st, 2009, in the Davis Concert Hall of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

The performers from left to right:
Caitlyn Hatcher
Brandon Thomas
Chris Reichmeier
Trevor Saint

Giacinto Scelsi – Hurqualia “A Different Realm” (for large orchestra, with amplified instruments) – (1960)

Filed under: Giacinto Scelsi,music — ABRAXAS @ 9:43 am


Orquesta RTVE.

Director. Luca Pfaff.
Hurqualia (1960)
Scelsi’s Third Period begins with the great orchestral masterpiece, Hurqualia. The work is in four movements, lasting under eighteen minutes, and scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, two trombones, two tubas, timpani, four percussionists, strings excluding violins, and three sets of amplified instruments: microphone one: oboe, English horn, Eb clarinet; microphone two: horn, tenor saxophone, musical saw, viola, double bass; microphone three: two trumpets, trombone. Hurqualia was not performed until June 18th, 1986 at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam directed by Arturo Tamayo – Scelsi attended every rehearsal.

It has been impossible to trace the origin of the term ‘Hurqualia’ to this point; a Sanskrit origin was conjectured, but now abandoned. It would seem to have some sort of dramatic (or perhaps rhythmic) connotation – Hurqualia is a tensely dramatic epic in sound. As opposed to the Quattro Pezzi of the previous year, intervals play a definite role here, particularly the third: hence there are harmonic references, though true harmony has to wait until Scelsi’s later orchestral music. Still there is an underlying unity of sound, at times admitting contrasts contained therein. Hurqualia reaches a new level of rhythmic sophistication – Harry Halbriech likes to take every opportunity to compare Scelsi’s massive sound and seemingly immense lapses of time with Bruckner, though this comparison is quite overdone by the second mention of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony. Scelsi’s rhythmic constructions emerge out of breathing rhythm, even when quite intense; and the sophistication with which he constructs episodes outside of time and subtle time relationships within the piece is far beyond Bruckner. The closest comparison is with the extreme rhythmic complexity of South Indian Carnatic music. So, in Hurqualia we have a massive (despite its length) orchestral masterpiece, an epic in sound. It is subtitled simply as “A Different Realm” and one could probably read into it various dramatic interpretations: here the epic of choice will be the Ramayana, the world’s leading epic.

The first movement is a sort of overture, beginning with low and quiet sounds reminiscent of the syllable ‘om’, and gradually building into a massive fanfare of foreboding on brass and percussion. The world is in chaos as the Demon King is extending his power – yet there is a glimmer of hope expressed by the woodwinds as it is decided that the great god Vishnu will descend to earth in the guise of the Prince Rama to defeat the Demon. The fanfare continues, ending abruptly to start the story in the next movement.

The second movement is the beginning of the epic proper: Rama and his wife Sita leave for the wilderness, Rama is tricked into leaving Sita alone for a moment at which time she is kidnapped by the demons; the movement ends in quiet, tense realization of this event, hanging on the major second.

The mysterious and contemplative third movement is a time of gathering information for Rama and forming alliances; Sita’s whereabouts are discovered and her serenity is played on flutes. Overall, though, there is an extreme fatalism about the horrible battle which lies ahead, and of course Rama knew all that would come to pass before he was even born.

The fourth movement gradually gains momentum, complete with a march to battle starting pizzicato on the strings, and the first part ends with a composed confidence resting on Rama’s incredible prowess as the battle proper is about to begin. The second part of the fourth movement is the battle, complete with intense percussive outbursts and brass fanfares – it ends with the total defeat of the demons, and a view of the horrible carnage. This rather far-flung interpretation might act to undermine the absolute quality and unity of thought behind Hurqualia, however it is included simply as an entrance which one might take into this ‘different realm’ which certainly admits of an epic interpretation of one kind or another. Regarding the instruments which are provided with specific amplification, it is unclear from the recording exactly what role they play: whether they are meant to represent characters, or simply to be heard above the din of brass and percussion.

Marietjie Pauw Concert: Water, stray cattle and the urban: Dwelling in South African landscapes

This performance remembers a century of change, with South Africa in a process of de-agrarianisation, and with its peoples still affected by the extreme social engineering of apartheid. A century after the passing of the 1913 Land Act (ultimately reserving 87% of the land for ‘white’ use), musical performance, here brought into relation with ‘landscape’, prompts an immersive engagement towards layered hearings of the history and ‘lay’ of the land.

The performance responds to a challenge by sociologist Cherryl Walker (2010). She argues for the need to move beyond an over-simplified master narrative (of restitution and redistribution of land) that ‘omits too much’. She motivates that ‘[w]e need intellectuals, artists and activists who can script a multiplicity of narratives about the land’. The distinct role of musicians as soundscapers, the way they tell stories and critically reflect in and through music, accepts Walker’s challenge by exploring the poetic implications of this call to activism. Musicians ‘scape’ (etymologically ‘shape, create’) not only narratives through their music, they also amplify memories and expectations with regard to the topography, demography and struggles for the land. The ‘natural’ land, the cultivated land as nurturing soil, the mined land rich in minerals, and the acknowledgement of this land as a rural and increasingly urbanised home for a diversity of peoples, underpin these aural propositions. Tim Ingold’s notions of ‘embodied landscape’, and ‘landscape as dwelling’ underscore this performance. The programmed works are by South African composers.


Marietjie Pauw (Stellenbosch) is a PhD student at Stellenbosch University where her practice-based research interrogates curatorship, South African flute music, and landscape as central themes. She teaches flute in Stellenbosch, and she plays in chamber music ensembles that have performed throughout South Africa, also on national festivals. International duo concerts include a series of performances in Ulm, Germany and Princeton, USA. In addition to numerous commissions and performances of South African compositions, she has made commercial recordings of works by composers Hendrik Hofmeyr and Neo Muyanga on commission of the International Huguenot Society and the Distell Foundation, as well as on the Afrimusic label. She produced the CD Fofa le nna: Music for two flutes with Barbara Highton Williams in 2012. She received flute tuition from Éva Tamássy at the University of Stellenbosch, where she was awarded the degrees (cum laude) BMus, BMus(Hons) and MMus (Performance). She obtained the Licentiates in Flute Performance (UPLM) and in Flute Teaching (UTLM) from the University of South Africa.

August 28, 2013

Thomas Peattie – Sonic mapping and Mahler’s mobile subject

Filed under: 2014 - Marikana Symphony,hearing landscape critically,music — ABRAXAS @ 11:29 pm

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Contemporary fascination with the idea of the auditory map – and in particular its role in helping us navigate the spaces we inhabit – has led scholars to consider an increasingly diverse range of twentieth- and twentyfirst-century approaches to the way in which sound can be understood to map space. Yet this practice has a surprising and largely unrecognised nineteenth-century analogue in the celebrated musical evocations of landscape from Rossini and Wagner to Berlioz and Mahler. The music of Mahler offers an especially compelling example of this idea of sonic mapping in terms of the unprecedented precision with which the instrumental forces in question are deployed. The early symphonies in particular feature sonic landscapes that aim to capture the experience of sound in all its unpredictability: from the First and Third symphonies, where individual instruments are instructed to play without regard for the tempo, to the finale of the Second symphony, where the distant sounds of an offstage ensemble are meant to convey the effect of being ‘carried on the wind’. Until now this practice has been interpreted almost exclusively in terms of the composer’s famous remarks to Natalie Bauer-Lechner in which he describes ‘polyphony’ as the experience of listening to the simultaneous sounding of unrelated sonic events. In this paper I argue that Mahler’s late symphonic writing offers an entirely different approach to the possibilities of sonic mapping. Drawing on passages from the first and second Nachtmusiken (Seventh symphony) and Der Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde, I argue that while Mahler’s late music continues to address the listening subject as a stationary auditor, it also offers a tantalising glimpse of a more mobile subject. For in contrast to the ‘bird’s eye’ view that often characterises nineteenth-century representations of musical landscape, these examples instead offer traces of the auditory perspective of the wanderer, a figure whose metaphorical ears serve as an unexpected guide to the composer’s imaginary symphonic landscapes.

CFA Faculty H&S Session

Thomas Peattie (Boston) is assistant professor of music at Boston University. He holds a PhD from Harvard University in historical musicology as well as degrees in musicology and composition from the University of Calgary. His publications include In search of lost time: Memory and Mahler’s broken pastoral in the collection Mahler and his World (Princeton, 2002) as well as articles in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association and Acta Musicologica. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Boston University Humanities Foundation. His book Gustav Mahler’s abstract theatre is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Mia Pistorius – The violence of landscape: Spatial metaphors and the disembodiment of listening


The critical act of reading landscape into music is in itself an act of ‘landscaping’, and, as with any act of landscaping, can impose certain structures upon space. Those structures are immanent within the critic’s apparatus. They are structures of metaphor, governed by and rooted in linguistic systems. The ear of the landscaping author necessarily moves beyond any direct connection between sound and embodied experience – as soon as landscape is ‘heard’, the transition from participant to observer is inevitable. The mysterious relationship between sound and listening (the ‘essence’ of the lived experience of music) is arguably damaged or distorted by the act of hypostatisation – the turning of what is heard into a metaphorical landscape, an object. The extent of such damage or distortion emerges when the mapping of metaphors onto seemingly neutral works is evaluated as an exercise of cultural power. In speaking about landscape, the interaction between sound and embodied experience is infused with the assumptions and boundaries inherent in language. Accordingly, ‘landscaping’ becomes an act of structural violence.

How does this impact upon the relationship between sound and space? The direct experiential links between music as metaphorical representation of space (whether social, cultural or physical), on one hand, and space as a metaphorical source of sound, on the other, cannot be denied. Nor, however, can they be divorced entirely from language. What, then, is the responsibility of the listener who inflicts language upon the primary embodied experience? Is it possible to talk about music and landscape without committing violence?

This paper takes as a case study music created as a direct result of violent acts: Zim Ngqawana and Kyle Shepherd’s performance in Aryan Kaganof’s Exhibition of vandalizim (2010). The improvised performance within the broken space of Ngqawana’s vandalised studio not only signifies a representation of a space of violence, but also a response to it. By considering a landscape of violence both as a source of the music and as a consequence of interpreting it, a bi-directional process of mutual signification between violence and music arises.

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Mia Pistorius (Sheffield) received the MSt in performance with distinction from Magdalen College, University of Oxford in 2013. She will commence studies towards a PhD in piano performance at the University of Sheffield in October 2013. Her research engages with metaphor theory and the relationship between language and music, particularly in performance.

Akin Omotoso on roger corman’s little shop of horrors

Filed under: akin omotoso,film,Frieda Grafe — ABRAXAS @ 4:24 pm


In the 1961 film by Nicholas Ray, »King of Kings«, John the Baptist asks Jesus: »Was it you who was foretold or are we to expect another?« I can imagine someone asking Roger Corman this when his first film »Monster from the Ocean Floor« in 1954 burst into cinema’s collective conscious. For me, the other is of course that boiling pot of an industry called Nollywood. An industry that I respect totally and share some of the values and ethos of the Roger Corman canon. To stretch the quote from King of Kings: »…we didn’t expect another but another rose.«


I can’t remember the first time or where I heard of Roger Corman but what I saw and heard was enough, and the man’s name stuck with me then and ever since. I was three feet high and rising at the time in the South African film industry and similarly to Roger, I never went to film school. What I knew then and believe now with all my heart is that telling stories was the fuel that drove me. As a child I would devour stories. I wrote my first novel at six. One of my Uncles used to ask me: »Why do all the characters die?« My response apparently was that »otherwise it would be too long.« Later at drama school I decided to become a director, having long abandoned my dreams of being a novelist. The cinema would be my canvas of choice. In the absence of decent film schools at the time in South Africa, I turned my attention to the masters and mistresses of cinema.

Directors and their films became my teachers. I devoured everything I could find on directors. Ousmane Sembène, Raoul Peck, Spike Lee, Julie Dash, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Poitier, Djibril Diop-Mambety, Alfred Hitchcock to name a few. I would read up everything about these directors and watch their films, and by so doing I was learning the language of cinema from these pioneers. And what was that language? Not just visual story telling but also the power of cinema. There is no music like that musical score in the Korean film »3-Iron« directed by Kim Ki-Duk, no drama like the drama in the cinema of Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi, and I have never seen anything to equal the fire and excitement of Mira Nair’s »Moonson Wedding«. Watching these films fuelled my passion.

Then I re-discovered »The University of Roger Corman«. His films were never my focus. I am not entirely sure how I feel about all of his films or even if their genres appealed to me. This of course has never been the essence of Roger Corman for me. It was what he was doing and how he was doing it that I latched on to. I liked the idea that he was independent; I liked the fact that his films cost less and made him money; independence is a huge aspect of the film industry. Kwame Nkrumah said first of his newly independent Ghana: »Seek ye first political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you«. If I had Commandments for filmmakers I would start with that. It is a difficult position to negotiate. Independence. In this day and age, when most African filmmakers source funding from Europe and key on the list of requirements is that your film has to say something about AIDS or poverty, I like the independence of Nollywood. And it’s that independence I recognize in Roger. I like the passion with which he empowered younger filmmakers and actors. The roll call of people he gave opportunity to reads like the hall of fame today: Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme. Sometimes filmmakers affect others without even knowing it. In one of my early short films I had no idea about framing a scene in a restaurant with two characters talking. While it seems absurd now, it wasn’t to me at the time. I had no idea where to put the camera. I saw a documentary where Jonathan Demme (a »University of Roger Corman« alumni) said when he made his first film he had gone the night before to watch some other film and he copied the shots in that film to help him get through at least his first day of the shoot. Cut to: me fast forwarding through all the VHS tapes in my mother’s house trying to find a film that had a scene with two people talking in a restaurant so I could copy the shots. That’s »Corman 101« in action.

If the »University of Corman« or »UniCorm« as I like to call it, has a curriculum it would be something like this. Firstly, the emphasis on the low budget. As Jack Nicholson says in the documentary »Corman’s World«: »They (the films) weren’t pretending to be something else.« Fast forward years later to »Nollywood 101«. Those films stand out because they weren’t pretending to be something else. They were a true voice. Nollywood for me, at the time when I discovered it, was a breath of fresh air. The first Nollywood film was »Living in Bondage«. An industry was born. Today in the popular hit track »Oliver Twist« by D’banj he references Nollywood actresses as well as Hollywood royalty. The music video also features an appearance by Kanye West. It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. I might not have ever made a film that could be classified as Nollywood but I most certainly have adopted, like Corman’s students have, some of their ethos. I remember Ron Howard talking about filming the mega big budget film staring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman called »Far and Away«. If memory serves, he spoke about how on a particular day they were running out of time and losing light. He found himself, he said, channelling his inner Roger Corman, and rushing with one cameraman and Tom and Nicole to chase the light. Corman has made over 200 films. Throw a stone in the Nollywood shop of talent and you would find filmmakers with a standard 200-film résumé, and that’s before breakfast. Nollywood might have started with »Living in Bondage« but today the films are screened in multiplexes the world over. Corman might have started with »Monster on the Sea Floor« but he inspired the blockbusters of today. Spielberg’s masterpiece film »Jaws« was essentially a B-Grade movie done with better production value. The rest is history. »Jaws« and »Star Wars« changed the tide of American films and also Roger Corman’s cinema. A high gloss big budget blockbuster had replaced the low budget film. We don’t know where Nollywood will end up but we have seen what Corman has influenced in America. Corman continues to make films but refuses to change his ethos.

I had an interesting experience watching »The Little Shop of Horrors«. I couldn’t remember if I had seen it before. An image popped into my mind of a plant eating people but I couldn’t quite place it. As the film started with that beautiful cartoon drawing and the voice of the detective, I found myself remembering that I had seen it all on stage. As a child I always liked macabre stories and I enjoyed this one immensely. The fact that the success of the shop is tied to blood reminded me of the line from »Interview with the Vampire«: »Drink from me and live forever«. The constant craving of the plant, like Cookie Monster from »Sesame Street«. The film is hilarious as well. I love the interplay of the characters. It is filled with great lines like: »It’s a finger of speech!« Shot over two and a half days, the tale of a man ultimately destroyed by his creation. It’s the stuff of movie legend.

In the documentary »Corman’s World«, he is compared to the Arab maxim: The dogs bark but the caravan moves on. Corman and Nollywood for me continue to move mobile memories forward, the rest of us are barking.

first published here: http://www.friedagrafe.net/film-view/128

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