Friday, June 27, 2008

Tone of voice

Listening to the first few tracks of Joel Palmer's latest release True Dreams (samples of which can be found here) brought back into focus a question that i have carried with me for a long time: what provides a good foundation for the timbral architecture of a piece? What guidance is there for choosing timbres? How are we to bear witness to the experience of the timbres we choose? What is the language of timbre?

Our place in evolution has made us organisms who hear in timbre a size and shape and material make-up of the primary vibrating body (string, reed, drum head, ...) as well as the size and shape of the space in which the body is vibrating (concert hall, coffee shop, village circle, ...). i think we must acknowledge and work with this natural and organismal contribution to our perception of timbre. In a word, what Timbre says to us about matter matters.

At the same time -- if we are honest -- i think we must acknowledge a celestial and heavenly perception of timbre. There are too many reports of the music of the spheres. Too much common in our experience to deny that some timbres come from above -- asking us to be more than what we currently are -- and others lift us upward from below -- helping us to realize the difference between what we are and what we pretend to be.

These considerations are emphasized by our particular point in time when for the last 70 years or more we have enjoyed unprecedented timbral freedom. We can design timbral experiences of enormous range and complexity. Before this period timbre and physical device were so closely wedded that the only indication of timbre in a score was to note the instrument(s) in which the voice was to be spoken. There have been intrepid explorers from Theremin to Moog to the Moody Blues, from Frith to Fripp, from Guthrie to Reich. In some sense, every performing musician sets out on an exploration of timbre. And, for all i know, they have all developed an internal framework, an internal language for working with timbre. But, also, for all i know, they have only chosen to share that language in the music, itself.

The music, however, is not the score, and i think we must acknowledge that the score has a definite value for those who wish to work with music, much like the written word has a value for those who wish to work with language. What is a score that lets us talk, think and feel about timbre? How do we lift our game so that we can bring more intention in the choice of timbre?


Blogger MTavlieva said...

I am not certain if his will be read by the host of the blogger, but i liked the idea of timbre.
Most of the posts are related and associated with PHILOSOPHIZING.One long and inspiring word- bearing in it other words/being constructed by words denoting LOVE and WISDOM.It caught my attention so the result is:;
The research however, could have entailed much more results.
How would you re-formulate in your own way and by judging on your own insights the quatation:"To Philosophize is to learn to die"?
with regards and Love,

11:21 PM  

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