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<<  -- 2 --  Jennifer I Paull    'SKY POETS PAINT THE SHELTERED CURVE TO FIND'


A rainbow stretches from one barely defined point to another. So do words, so does our understanding and use of them. Sitting in a Dutch orchestra listening to a conductor giving me instructions in a language I hardly knew, still permeated into the musical awareness of the moment through my own disciplinary osmosis. Comprehension and parallel understanding can and do penetrate from one means of communication to another. There is no absolute necessity for equal perfection upon every stratum, or brightness in every rainbow. Here was the dawning of my ultimate fascination with artistic diversity. If one's initial communication (music) had sufficiently permeated one's study coding (its practice), there was indeed a pivot, a U-turn, a sort of translation boomerang. The second subject (or means of communication) came back as though one had thrown out the initial projectile from one's first subject's inner world. Music is music. I had performed with Persian musicians when played (as opposed to written) notes were the only shared language. Here, the musical language was at least my own, unlike that of the desert.

Luciano Berio was one of the greatest composers of the second half of the XXth Century. For him, the link between words and music was essential (revue 'Contrechamps' No 1, September 1983). He was a talented linguist, artist, and so much more, that defining his artistic limitations would make a brief menu. His portrait of Cathy Berberian, his wife and my dear, treasured friend, was used as the cover of one of her LPs and hung in her Milan apartment. It is a bold rambling of continuous black, textured lines upon a vivid orange-red background -- yet as unmistakably Cathy as his floating, translucent silver epitaph, 'Requies' (Frammento) [1983], dedicated to her memory. He wanted to make her seem ever-present, and his farewell deliberately unfinished, hence '(Frammento)' hovering in the title as though willpower could make her materialise. By putting 'Requies' into the nominative, and the idea of only a fragment (of her death) being a reality, into the listener's subconscious mind, Berio brilliantly removed the finality of the accusative, 'Requiem'. Here was the brushstroke of the linguist upon his musical portrait of a woman who will rest as eternal in his oeuvre as his debt of gratitude to her lay etched inside his heart. This was perhaps rather insufficiently acknowledged in public in its due proportion, which was monumental, far surpassing her vocal dexterity. Berio without Berberian would not have been Berio. She introduced him to James Joyce, taught him English and her ideas were the wellspring for much composition -- by whom?

Did he write what she sang, or did she sing what he wrote?

'Eloquence is a painting of the thoughts'. -- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), French philosopher, mathematician, physicist.

I share Charlie Parker's viewpoint that there is no line separating the Arts. They are one living energy, one form of awareness, one whole, albeit chameleon, kaleidoscopic communication. John Cage rejected the idea that music was a language with which to communicate, maintaining that it's purpose,

'... is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences'. -- John Cage (1912-1992) American multiartist, philosopher, visionary (separate, disciplinary definitions, mostly inappropriate) 'Autobiographical Statement' (all search engines: enter 'John Cage').

I would argue that if one is preparing to receive, that is a pre-communication process in itself, and therefore by definition, something is going to pass from point A to point B along that invisible curve-to-find.

'To hell with reality! I want to die in music, not in reason or in prose ...'

- Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961) French author. Letter, 30 June 1947. Critical Essays on Louis-Ferdinand Céline, ed William K Buckley (1989).

Does the artist wish to be imprisoned by reality? I think not! Some measure of each Art's traces clings like a powdering of dust particles upon the footprints of the others. Into that blend, I introduce linguistic and spiritual diversity as necessary ingredients for greatness.

'Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; faith is the courage to dance to it today.' -- Peter Kuzmic, (born 1946) Slovenian theologian, author.

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Copyright © 6 March 2005 Jennifer I Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland


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