IANCU DUMITRESCU: Acousmatic Provoker

part 3 of interview

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Leroy: COGITO/TROMPE-L'OEIL: In this work do you seek a visual result or a result evocative of the visual, more than musical?
Dumitrescu: No. Not the plastic idea. Cogito represents, for me, the waiting of an almost abyssal statute of hearing, but almost nothing in the visual field. It is true, the sound is sometimes so powerful and precise that its expression can create certain reflexes in the imagination.

It is the only connection which I see...

Leroy: I have the impression that in Cogito, you try to play with memory? The location of the sources becomes so difficult that finally one must give it up.
Dumitrescu: Cogito is, I believe, one of the highest results that I could obtain, in the acousmatic-instrumental sense. Acousmatic-Orphic. It is to live in a different space, in the third dimension... Me, I do not agree too much with the "location" of the sounds. To what good? Only in the case of an analysis can that make sense. Normally I seek to give it up.
Leroy: In this "acousmatic," is there a secret sadism which would be expressed by the occultation of the sources?
Dumitrescu: Not at all. The acousmatic brings an enrichment, a sound metaphor, without calling upon the picturesque, nor the vulgar. It is a high degree of lived musical realities, in a process of spiritualization of reasoning. On the "acousmatic," wouldn't one have that I explain myself, once, more concretely?
Leroy: AULODIE MIORITICA: Why didn't you write a concerto? To show the differences with a concerto having themes, melodies, figurations?
Dumitrescu: A concerto, that's to say a traditional form, a species of the sonata form having two themes, in a dialectic of major and minor. I always found it improper to retake titles like this one, using an established sense from other styles, and to combine them in new forms. It is the cause of confusion which always displeased me.
Leroy: I never find here - and in a paradoxical manner - the feeling of a true orchestra, an orchestral musical ensemble... Because it does not have woodwinds, brass. What are the instruments that you use?
Dumitrescu: There is enough of it! I used adequate things, technically, with those used in the solo part. There must always be a coherence of style! The orchestra uses many multiphonics, natural harmonics. Traditional timbres, in a completely conscious way, are eluded. When you affirm not having the feeling of an orchestra, I take it as a true homage!

This "deconstruction" so to speak, of all the specific automatisms is a success of the acousmatic, the Orphic.

In the score you can find many pages of brass: horns, trombones, tuba, whose sound is transfigured, in a natural way however. And that, I repeat it, having motivation of style, by pure necessity for another thing... you thus have this new reality.

Peyet: What does one of your scores resemble? And what does it represent for you?
Dumitrescu: A score remains, today like yesterday, something fundamental, very significant. No matter what we have today, moreover, the recording, (which is another form of writing) the score remains a starting document, from which we can decipher the meaning of a work. It must thus express the direction, the sense of the work, its configuration. At the same time: "L'Urformen."

[JR: Urformen means Archetype?]

[ANA-MARIA AVRAM: No, just the "Urformen:" this is a particular concept in German (Gestaltist) thinking that means: originary, first, of the beginning form. The Gestalt theory (from Gestalt-structure, shape, form) try to apprehend phenomena in their totality, without dissocations of the elements which make the whole. Separate, these elements don't any meaning anymore. This idea is a traditional German pattern, and in fact, phenomenology and Gestalt-theory have the same roots.]
Ana-Maria Avram
Dumitrescu: It is the cardinal objective to transmit to the performer: "Urformen." Moreover, with a quantity of details, agogic indications, graphic signs, accents, literal messages giving explanations, impulses, these details are never sufficient!

It is necessary to add explanatory texts, a set of graphic symbols with their explanation. There is, moreover, an oral tradition, practical, "academic" which crystallizes at each moment. Without it, many things, even in the traditional field would have definitively lost themselves. Many essential things.

My scores have, sometimes, a very unusual, accentuated graphic aspect superimposed on the indications of pitch, rhythm, etc., due to the fact that I feel the need to see the music. A great need to see as well as to listen, to hear. I often find the scores of other composers too morose, helping me to feel only too late the true configuration of the music. It is sad not to be able to realize by sight the evolution of the densities of the voices, the gravitation of the lines of force of a score. Because of that, from the start, I attached a particular importance to the graphic aspect of my scores. During a certain time, each one of my scores had its particular graphism, emerged from its own needs, thus having its own image. Later, I had to repeat myself... I composed too much! Time at disposal was too short to write, as I often do it, on tracing paper, with rulers, stencils, Indian ink. That took too much energy. Because of that, my former ambition, to always create unique scores, as each composition is [unique], weakened a little... But, I certainly will buy myself a computer to redo the research in this field, to reconsider unsolved problems... I will arrive there, perhaps... [now that we have two computers, scores can often be as in my dreams. -1999 update.]

To answer more exactly your question: The score is something sacred. For a music so new, of which I dream, the graphics, the symbols, the solutions of intentions, subtleties, require an immense effort... It is a problem of creation!

Leroy: And yet, I feel a kind of mistrust in the effectiveness of the written page! Do you find that there is a dichotomy between written sign and music, between writing and sound?
Dumitrescu: I see what you want to say! Perhaps it is necessary to start with the other end: each notated music up to a very recent time, as you know it well, was a "ars combinatoria." [You have to let this term stay like that, I think. It's from the Renaissance: Raimondus Lullus, for example, and others too, occultists that invented engines to combine each word to another, starting from mathematical models. It means that the signification of the word it is not important anymore, but only the laws of combinations. In this era it was the prefiguration of the computer era, I'm sure. -1999 update.] Harmony, polyphony, melody, orchestration, combination, all came from this superbly flourishing combinative ideal. The scores based on this thought, in spite of their inaccuracies, which were present even then, were very effective, functioning very well, though calculations sometimes proved false: to see the great differences of tempi, for so many conductors, but at the same time specified, concrete. The needs for the music changed since then, though the resources of combinative thought were proven immense. And one cannot envisage how long they will still last. The combinative musical thought changes with the transformational thought. At the beginning in a very timid way, then more decided. This evolution certainly received an impulse by the electroacoustic practice.

For me, things are even more thorough. The transformational principle became omnipresent. 60 to 70% of the music that I imagine is transformational. A sound is a being which is born, develops and dies, while transforming its qualities, its colors, its form, its harmonic components, is perpetual and essential to become. Moreover the music is nothing concrete, existing in itself. It is only something which becomes!

Therefore my music, in a way more thorough than many others is essentially evolutionary, in a continual vacillation between concrete, palpable and subtle, pure and impure, refusing the banal concrete, the already known, in a conscious manner. Obviously, with a departure of such premises, where each element of the composition is, indeed, an adventure, a microstructure in becoming, something without existence in immediate reality and being able only to be imagined, to have a presentiment of... The problems of writing are infinitely more complex. How can one note the imponderable? The insoluble?

Leroy: Is there an exit?
Dumitrescu: It is the question! In any case, to continue to write canned music is not one of the solutions. That does not interest anybody any more! That also leaves me indifferent. A transformational chord, a passage through the natural harmonics series is not something which one can control and can immediately interpret. Even when it happens during concert, before it was experienced, in order to reappear fully, in order to evolve in the necessary direction.

There is a whole phenomenology of the birth of a sound. That does not depend only on physical aspects, like the trajectory of a bullet. I see more than a physical aspect, I see an adventure of the spirit. Exactly as in the alchemists. The sound reflects a will of existence, of direction towards a goal... But the chemist does not make a success of all his experiments. Neither does the musician. The musician in such an attempt assumes the gesture to exist, to be, gives birth to an unprecedented world.

It is thus about an enormous change of roles. The composer proposes a strategy, outlines a range of possibilities, circumscribes the adventure with a definite territory... But it is the performer who assumes the final concrete adventure. Because of that the only valid answer is offered by phenomenology.

You wonder, normally, what becomes of the scores, in such a context of problems? Well, I answer you: an incentive! A tendency to strike roots where the soil is completely missing, a limitation in order to avoid the skid to the arbitrary. A maintenance of the direction of the work.

Of course, there is not only that! One finds fantastic passages of development in their adventure, and also solid, concrete, relentless moments, which gather the totality of the elements. Concrete, hard things guide, articulate the form. The others, the "madness," become brackets, case by case. I must inform you that obviously, I arrived only after two decades at this freedom of today.

After having written "controlled" scores, thought in the technique of usual composition. In this technique, the ancient one, I mean, I think I have some modest contributions. The freedom of today - a freedom with quotation marks of course - is in fact a very constraining form which take the conquests of the technique and the artistic conscience assumed... Conquests obtained painfully.

I have conducted for almost 20 years, and when I checked my quantity of assumptions, I eliminated many of them. Only a few remained to me nevertheless... valid!

To arrive at these results, I, above all, released myself from a certain sluggishness of mind (not of thought) in which many artists today take pleasure. During periods of transition, like ours, rare are those who open up, with courage, of new territory. They have more chance to be forgotten then... When all is calm, come the true geniuses who fill the vacuum. But without these first, what boredom in the art of the world...

In what relates to me, I prefer being... forgotten later, which unperceived, or to count for nothing of the whole! ???

Leroy: Concerning PIERRES SACREES. This work sounds almost like musique concrète.
Dumitrescu: True! But I do not know if one could really call it musique concrète. It is a completely different thing! For several years I have been haunted by an intuitive penchant, an interior, urgent necessity, and perfidious at the same time, to connect the instrumental timbre to an envelope of noise. It is what sometimes synthesizers do... The noise field is, I have a presentiment of it for a long time, necessary to the music, but in a more subtle way. Because the hyper-consonance, the hyper-spectrality also requires duller shades, more stringent, hard, which counterbalance them. You cannot build only with glass. You must also employ steel.

In the case of PIERRES SACREES, it is an acousmatic form about which I've already spoken. Art to disguise, to mask the sound source, to make it more precious. It is the sound metaphor, something in parallel to the poetic metaphor.

What would poetry be without metaphor?

I believe that this kind of ambiguous sound situation from the point of view of the source employs, even if it is a question of traditional instruments being invested with a "detimbration," a metallization or of a certain "concreteness," like in true musique concrète, which brings to the living composition of today not only a completely necessary modern spirit, but an unheard, semantic richness.

The musical sign, thus, is revealed by having a symbolic value...

Leroy: Are special techniques necessary to collect the sound?
Dumitrescu: Certainly.
Leroy: I do not hear at all the prepared piano, or, in any case, I do not hear it as such. Do you give to each time you use instruments or prepared objects, indications of the preparation's utilization?
Dumitrescu: However, it is only with the piano that similar sounds can appear, that I find separately... In the strings of the piano. It is an electronic manner of preparation of the piano. Something which is done for the first time...

[JR: What do you mean by electronic preparation? Not prepared as Cage prepared pianos?]

[Dumitrescu: Yes and no... It means I'm employing different positions of microphones which I made, (not commercial ones) ...things like that. Now I have a new generation of this kind of ... small interesting sounds, with which I'm preparing some new music...]
Leroy: Thus you give, for each composition, indications of use for the metal plates or are the objects "invited" by your music?
Dumitrescu: It generally acts on instruments which have a rather rich and diversified sound, relatively easy to handle. More complicated was for me to record and construct the work with so few elements. But, you know it well, true art is done with a parsimony of means. PIERRES SACREES, excels by a way of living the music with intensity, with an exceptional tension.

Here it is a question of the result of a few years of experiments which, finally, after many failures found their way of accomplishment.

Peyet: HARRYPHONIE (alpha). The double bass often sounds like a trumpet...
Dumitrescu: The answers return to the same concepts. You have a very fine hearing, as well as cultivated... It is possible that it appears thus. An effect more seen thanks to the acousmatic. All that you seized, is the acousmatic, Orphic effect. In my design, that is a high science of the most precious combinations of harmonics. This alchemy of the vibrations can generate more remote sound metamorphoses...
Peyet: Is there also a Harryphone in this work?
Dumitrescu: Towards the end of the piece, the part named the "sectio aurea," the large drum and the Harryphone intervene in dialogue. What arrives: the acousmatic Orphic is also based on the transcendence. The ensemble must give the impression of stateliness, of cosmicity of the music.

It is sufficient, in the acousmatic instrumental, in the Orphic, that an instrument carries out the acousmatic jump, the step towards the transcendent, so that, instantaneously, all the other instruments, all the sounds become secret, contaminated... with magic, are also touched by the transcendent force!

It is for that that my music is, in a certain sense, cryptic, exploring the final directions of the sound... The listener is attracted in this occulted forgotten search, losing his... points of reference. It is an appeal towards the life of the sound fact. Thus, it found a chance to attract... a spirit, finding in its turn in search...

[JR: What is a Harryphone? (In English, this suggests it is made of hair!)]

[Dumitrescu: Not at all! In fact it is made of steel.... The name comes from Harry Halbreich, to whom I dedicated this instrument I made. It could be played as an acoustic percussion instrument, or also employed with microphones. The material is essential for its sound. I can't explain more.... is a matter of experience.]
Peyet: A PRIORI for ensemble. This work, as well, is almost musique concrète. The presence of an electronic sound as background...
Dumitrescu: For A PRIORI also, it is about Orphic screening. It is rather a music for the 21st century than for now. MYTHOS also...

My music is addressed to the listener of the 21st century. Obviously I employ prepared sounds. I would not say that they are only timbres, because it is not a question of colors. They are complex sounds, charged with accents of explosive force. It is the general construction, the form which worried me the most. It is a continuous variation, very free, based on a logical apriorism.

The logical forms are not a volatile creation of the composer, in spite of appearances or simplistic conception of materialist, reductionistic thought. The logical forms have a metaphysical origin.

For this reason they are combined so easily. They come from the force of creative, unconscious genius. The human talent comes from the unconscious, and thus it cannot be taught, learned. The talent for the music: you have it or you do not have it. That's all. But what are forms as sonata, lied ["Term generally used in English for the Romantic art song from Schubert to Wolf and Strauss" -The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music]?

Mozart, like Bruckner, was not interested in the form of his works (in the sense of caring about the form). Their logical forms belonged to the great metaphysic entities. Their success was not to disturb them, not to deteriorate them. In addition, the logical forms belong to the unconscious collective.

It for this that they are felt, forewarned, understood by all. On the level of artistic culture, they reach, touch the degree of the supra-conscious. They fall from the sky... For this reason, they cannot be indexed.

Peyet: For this work do you develop your ideas starting from a combination of timbres, of a timbre, of the sensation of a specific timbre?
Dumitrescu: I always start from a timbre which I imagine. I prepare these timbres intensely, assiduously. As a painter would do for his nuances. I prepare them by carrying out new tunings, changing scribblings, studying various unorthodox techniques of execution. When I succeed to have complete sounds, full of explosive force, accents, expressive vectors, I continue by the thought of musical construction.

But both come almost simultaneously.

For A PRIORI another thing is significant: the form is a continual variation, free, beginning from elements already given. All the ensemble has as basis a logical apriorism of the discursivity.

You see how the logical forms are not a volitional creation, due to the whim of the creator. The logical forms, those which appear objective to us, those in which, me, you, others, find themselves, are of metaphysical origin. They are given to us, they come to us from higher than ourselves... There is no more innovation which could occur.

In such a music, so difficult and, as I have the impression of it and I repeat it, having more in affinity with the 21st century, I did not invent anything. I only seized the articulations which you do not know and... when you have time to perceive them, you will realize that, on one hand, they are absolutely... logical, and the other hand, that they are objective...

That wants to say... an apriorism!

The proof that what is in ourselves, even possibly masked, encrypted like here, belongs to us like an a-perceptive given resembles the apriorism of musical logic.

Therefore of an absolute metaphysics! In this way, I have the ambition to show something more. That liberty does not exist at all. We have the apriorism of the forms. We also have the apriorism of liberty!!!

When somebody tells you: be free, only at this moment, thinking that you must do something special, you start to have headaches! There is nothing to do with freedom! Nothing special! If only to assume it, to assume what it would be possible to do!

Who says to the young composer: add 3 measurements there, put 6 beats there... makes a large error! The only thing to say, in similar cases, would be: "rip it up and start again!" One must discover, I would not say the archetype, but the necessary proportion which governs any thing!

Leroy: Can you explain how you use the acousmatic?
Dumitrescu: It is too complicated to give an answer... Until the end, I hope that you will find its sense yourself.
Leroy: But the acousmatic instrumental?
Dumitrescu: The acousmatic would be the highest diagonal science of the sound material. The purest degree, the most solitary adventure of hearing. Elevating the sign-sound to the highest degree of abstraction. It would be the supreme Stage of subtlety, of the civilization of the ear. The argument, the only, of the pure, virgin sense, of human thought by the means of sound. The acousmatic - which comes from the Socratics - refers to the art, the science to disguise the source of the sound, to mask it, to occult it, with a purpose of making it more precious, penetrating, unrecognizable... reverberating, richer. The acousmatic is to occult the process of the Emission of the sound, by instrumental techniques other than the established ones. It is, in any case, another thing than what those who imagined the production of sound-enigmas on tape! The acousmatic instrumental keeps of a diagonal technique of the instrumentalist, who produces unheard sounds, being in limiting situations. He extorts of his instrument all sweetness and poison. The acousmatic is that, not the music made beyond a curtain, as with the contests for a place in an orchestra.

The acousmatic is the spiritualization of the music, where the ethical, aesthetic speculation join to find the value of the uniqueness, of the unrepeatable. If you want: negation of the materiality, the raw sound. And more still: the insane hope that, from there, by the means of the sound, you can dissect the nucleus of the world.

Peyet: How did you begin this reasoning, towards a music at such an enigmatic point, of a search so thorough?
Dumitrescu: It is complicated!

The course was not exempt from retreats, even sometimes dramatic. I started with the search of the interior of the sound. At the interior there are gravitational forces which act. A terrible force of cohesion, nuclear attraction.

To dislocate the vibrations which composed the natural sound, from that is born at the same time a formidable energy, comparable with the energy of the particles. For more than fifteen years, I have based my creation on that... It is necessary, after all, to disturb the peace of the sound, to create a Brownian motion... The force is no longer that of my music... but that of physics itself. The grand problem is to agree with physics, to listen to its laws. Not to reverse these laws...

I put the sound under a magnifying glass, to regard it. As something marvelous. I thus contemplated under the microscope the interiority of this ocean to microscopic proportions, a world hardly foreseeable with the naked eye. I cultivated a sensibility of listening different. I always had a presentiment of that below, there was something which hid.
Iancu Dumitrescu

Peyet: How is a music constructed, in a similar state of mind?
Dumitrescu: How is it constructed? I never ask myself the question, only when I was confused. The resolution is essential itself. It is enough to observe. To let itself carry. To live this new reality fully.

In music, I am in the search of this "Ur-phenomenon," the primordial fact, where I feel the initial essence of the musical fact. For that, you will not find melodies, figurations, frequencies from me. What will you find then? You will find an embryo in it which generates, by itself, the music. It generates itself...

When I attain the elementary and find myself on the level of the components of the sound, I then sense, to have touched the germinal fiber, the embryo of life... incipient from something mysterious... Here I find the original fecundity of the music...

You know? The material thinks all alone... What you must do is to learn how to read inside. Like Plato says: "he who is not a geometrician does not have the right to enter there!" The search for "Urformen" appears to me to be a purification to come out of false motivations, the intuition of primary topologies. Neither discursive nor figurative. A plant grows naturally, it only remains for us to look at it.

Peyet: But then, how do you compose?
Dumitrescu: I try to surround myself with a new reality. I see the things in their primordial nature, I continue... what precedes the formed. The uncertain preoccupies me. Therefore impulses... beginnings. These things have, in them, something paradisic, a purity, an initial halo. The world needs more and more the ingenuity of expression, searching for it, without knowing where to find it.

I had the chance to return to the sources. I returned to Orphic mythology. We have the sound and the cultural thought, symphonic, and another thing: the natural sound. Between the natural and the cultural there are significant differences. The natural sound is a complex of pure and impure things: noise, inconstant doublings, adjacent effects, beats, spectral rubbings. The natural can enrich the cultural. It is what I do.

All that re-enters in the idea of a pre-language. Is one allowed to say that? An "Ursprach" without connotation, denotation. If something could characterize my work in entirety, it would be a "miraculous" state, of the beginning of the world.

The sound appears like something not generated, not created. What follows, it is a sort of fascination with ontology. An ontology truly lived.

Almost always, my music liberates latent forces, allows them to develop in themselves. Only after I start to organize a conflict, I produce a more or less spectacular jump towards other materials and, towards the end, the arc collapses. Energies gradually die out. At the interior, is I have an insane distilling of timbres, situations... is it a good resume?

For MEDIUM III, one should not forget the illuminated, hallucinated translation given by Fernando Grillo. For his intuitive genius, all these theoretical pretensions - so to speak - that this music claims (and it is not a question of this work which I wrote) its own form of existence. Grillo is a high artistic authority, and I had many times the possibility, the chance to collaborate, but also to confront myself with him.

Peyet: Are the rattlings of bows explicitly written in detail? How do you direct the interpretation?
Dumitrescu: Sometimes they are explicit, expressly required, but other times they are successive, adjacent, related on the pressures, the changes of bowing. The technique, the processes, is complex. I do not know of what you think exactly...

I want to say that, just like in the school of interpretation of the classical style, it is also a style, a series of technical knowledge, specialized, academic, absolutely obligatory, which is transmitted, like yesterday, by direct contact of the Master with the pupil. Without that, the musical development would be impossible. All your surprises of today have been for me things already selected, experimented, discovered, practiced, exerted for almost twenty years.

It is the fate of those who explore, in art, the virgin terrain.

After a certain time, all these things become a kind of collective folklore, generally one forgets the author of the "small invention."

In what concerns me, I hope that at least, as it is a question of a new system of musical thought, some of the essential things will perhaps be likely to remain, to resist time...

Peyet: Do you play the double bass?
Dumitrescu: Yes, to a certain extent. I have a rather good right hand technique, which aids me for many instruments, traditional or self-made. I thus have the advantage of knowing, in the profound and practical sense, the instruments.

For this reason, when I write, I do not only have the intuition of solutions but also a minimum, at least, of practice of their physical "writing," of the method according to which the sound occurs. My practice of conducting also helped me much.

Leroy: One can use phenomenology to interpret the score of someone else, but can one use it for his own score?
Dumitrescu: It is the same thing. Phenomenologist, you are or not at all. You can be a native phenomenologist, without speculative possibilities, but with the clear sensation from where pulsates the truth. The geniuses do not need a theoretical method. They instantaneously embody the essence. The phenomenological reduction, which is named, briefly, the reduction, is absolutely necessary to any composer. The first image of a composition, which is absolute, appears to have all the details, after that, comes the realization of all the proportions and the structural elements, a pure image, thanks to phenomenological intuition.
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