Music, being a time-based art, unfolds in time and the listening experience can only take place over the same time-span it takes to make the music sound. This implies an essential connection between time and music, which is presupposed for any piece of music. --Theoretically, eternity is the opposite of time.--The fundamental difference between time and eternity is the question of movement: the present as something fleeting, continually moving into the past, whereas the eternal present involves stillness. In other words: time can be considered as a dynamic process, whilst eternity would be completely static.-- Virtually all Western music is characterised by a teleological or goal-directed motion. This teleology works on several levels: a dissonance is first prepared and then resolved, a build-up of tension culminates in a perfect cadence, a development section leads to the recapitulation, etc. These musical processes are essentially linear: they lead from somewhere to somewhere else. This linear mode of musical thought is reflected in the listener’s active involvement of memory: the recollection of what went before and the anticipation (often actually the predictability) of what is to come are intrinsically involved in how any ‘present’ musical element is understood.
In search of new sound narratives and textures during composing the concept of linearity seems delusive. Linear mindset can aesthetically narrow the way to listen or lean towards what is being heard along the process of creation. Without even noticing, certain expectations and interpretations arise following our adaptable and organic - therefore also socially and culturally built sense of aesthetics.
Linearity as a process of reasonable straight-line progression between two points is to be challenged intentionally to be able to crack the line and make the moment a new. Meaning not to have the breaking of the form as an intrinsic value or in the main focus, but to actively give space for other possible ways of building up the shape of the whole by questioning the concept of natural.
When composing as a collective through improvisation, a mutual theme can offer a starting point for a sound narrative to be created. As the basis of the live studio recording session Sound Span: Underwater (2016) by Sound Illustrators we were expressing ideas on the highly nonlinear aesthetics of being a human related to the concept of lifespan built out of uncertainty and endless roaming.
After some mind sharing we decided to form an imaginative sound span of life considering it mere as a meaningful chaeos extending from one to multiple points simultanously in space and time, than a logical or predictable chain of rhymes and reasons. Finally we apperared to see water not only as a beginning point of life but also kind of a metaphor for constant organic transformations in life. Afterwards five sections were spotted out as separated tracks of the originally uninterrupted recording session.
As an experience, this way of improvising makes me feel grounded and unleashed at the same time. The conscious isn’t all the way limiting but kindly keeping me aware of the obvious outcome and gently suggesting to change the direction of listening and letting the storyline evolve as it does in the very moment.
Beirens, Maarten. 2013. Time, eternity and the problem of minimal musics alleged non-linearity in Louis Andreessen's De Tijd. Divergence Press.
Journal. Issue 1, March 2013.
Music by Sound Illustrators
Concept by Katri Salmenoja
Photo by Tiina Nurmenniemi