You will find a lot of organ music on diafani. The organ as a wind instrument offers so many possibilities to make audible the fleeting, transitory character of sounds. In an organ-installation (see homepage Eva-Maria Houben) – lasting for many hours – you hear “nearly nothing” (“presque rien”- to quote Hector Berlioz). You find so many overtones – by pushing/pulling the keys/the stops in different ways; registers as 2 2/3 or 1 3/5 and so on offer clear overtones. Last not least: using 2, 3 or even 4 manuals and pedal you have so many possibilities to combine the sounds, the lines, the different silences. “Le plus impressionnant dans l’orgue est son silence…” (Jean Ferrard, André Janssens) – Listen to “unda maris”: one single sound – and many sounds within.
What’s about the sound of piano?
The sound of the piano decays. It cannot be sustained. I let it loose time and again. It appears by disappearing; starting to disappear just after the attack. In disappearing it begins to live, to change. The piano: an instrument, that allows me to hear how many ways sound can disappear. There seems to be no end to disappearance. – The sound of piano! I can hear, how listening becomes the awareness of fading sound. Listen to “six sonatas”!
There is the silence generated by pressing a special button: silence; perhaps “really nothing” – a kind of silence you cannot find inside or outside. Then listen to the space of the hall: you may hear silence changing from hall to hall, changing with the temperature, the climate, changing with day and night. There will be more or less noise; perhaps you are waiting for a time when it is less noisy, perhaps you decide to invite the noises. Then go for a listening walk: you may hear the shouts of nature and landscape, the traffic noises, the murmuring and blowing voices outside – and you may realize that some of them meet instrumental and vocal voices. Composing and listening, listening and composing join each other. – Listen to “yosemite”: as it is recorded in a factory hall, you hear the drone of the machines; and the ravens outside are invited to take part at the performance. – Listen to “still werden” (becoming silent) or to the last mouvement of the “organ sonata no. 1”, where the sound is lost in the wide hall.
Noise and sound
Listen to the silence outdoor or inside a wide hall: perhaps you will hear the tune of the world. Switch on the wind of an organ: you may hear silence as well, but silence coloured by a silent blowing. Perform airy organ sounds – variable pressure of the keys, variable position of the stops: you may hear sounds between noise and sound, sound and noise; sounds with more or less wind within them. On this way you walk towards the sound of music, step by step. – Listen to “aeolina”, a piece for organ-wind.
Sounds of different instruments decay in different ways. Listeners are allowed to hear how many ways sound may disappear. – I can hear, how listening becomes the awareness of fading sound.
And fading sound perhaps is the link between life and art; between perception in daily life and perception while performing, while composing.
And the awareness of fading sound may become the awareness of presence.
The sound of music, the noise of music, the sound and noise of everyday life: They cut into each other. Listening in this way (listening to fading sound, to decay and vanishing objects) I pay attention to presence.
The book on Hector Berlioz, who liked “nearly nothing” (“presque rien”) (“Hector Berlioz. Disappearances: Instigations to listening”, 2005) ends with these thoughts: Which way is something (like a sound) given to us? This is the same question as: Which way is something let loose, is something considered as a lost thing? By listening I am aware: Nothing remains, everything is lost – something always is given to us so that we may loose it. Composition thinks about ways of loosing sound.
The last question: Why? Why sound, why composition? – One possible answer: Sound is given. There is sound, there are sounds. They vanish, the world becomes more and more silent. And now I am at home.