Ivar Frounberg - An Unmusical Music?

After four years of collaboration between Kjell Tore Innervik and the author within the NIME-project (at the Norwegian Academy of Music) we noticed that one notion was never addressed: musicality!

Many other institutions within music were challenged during our project, but it seemed that our contract with the listeners implicit meant that musicality was not to be discussed. That is also the case at conservatoires and musikhochschulen throughout the world: musicalityis inextricably linked to the music as a positive quality, which has to be present in order for the music to be considered 'music'.

What do we mean with the notion of musicality? Musicality is on one hand a set of capabilities that qualifies a person to be in possession of 'musicality' either as a listener or a performer of music. For us the notion of 'musicality' was linked to the physicality of the performance of music. A dramaturgical essence controlling cause and effect: if this then thatand repetition/variation. Without this dramaturgical essence a dramatic change in the relation between the musicians and their audience occur, most often considered as 'bad performance'. Composers often blame sound tracks of video artists to be 'unmusical' without seeing that often the notion of concept rather than dramaturgy would allow an alternative understanding.

Why seek to explore the unmusical? There already exists musical works in which this physicality is deliberately broken. John Cage tried during his work to let the sound speak for itself, ideally untouched by the performer and even the composer! Iannis Xenakis, advised to do so by Olivier Messiaen, defined a whole new musical theory in his publication(s): Formalized Music. In his works the notions of cause and effect is substituted by modelling the music by stochastic laws (formalisation). The working method of Morton Feldman implied that the bar lines defined musical entities without connection across the lines. Alvin Lucier introduced mechanical control of the sound. He let his own brainwaves control a number of loudspeakers on which were placed percussive instruments, making it possible for the audience to hear the effect of the brainwaves.

Milan Kundera recalled the relief in listening to the 'insensitivity' of Xenakis' music, as opposed to the betraying feelings of classic/romantic music that was used not only by the Nazis to motivate the German cultural supremacy towards the victims, but also was dominating the allowed and preferred music within the east block during the time of the Soviet Union. In Jonathan Littell's book Les bienveillantes(2006) this (mis)use of music is put under discussion. Still today it is almost no option in the public debate, that music should notexpress feelings!

By setting up the project Material Investigationsin 2011 Kjell Tore Innervik and I wanted to explore what happened when we removed all notions of 'feelings' and 'musicality'. By using the issue of 'investigation' and 'laboratory' we wanted to renew the contract with the audience by signalizing that this was something different than a 'concert'.

The presentation will discuss the outcome of Material Investigationsand follow my continued work within.

Material Investigations: Shepard Tones(2011) for harp ( will be presented as well as plans for coming works in the series. Should an institutional critique be maintained, or is it 'to late' or 'irrelevant' for the classical music to engage in such an activity?

Publisert: 21.06.2013 av Johan Sandborg Oppdatert: 19.03.2015 av admin