(OgreOgress)

The first question that arises is quite simple: are people willing to subject themselves to over 150 minutes of music which is probably not their usual cup of tea, music that is neither useful for ambient purposes nor eventful enough for the listeners to remain strictly concentrated and catch all the different shades that it presents? My answer is that one has to try. Set aside the necessary time (I waited for two months in my hectic daily schedule to be able to listen attentively to this DVD) then judge according to your responsive schemes. These are pieces for sho, conch shells and violin, played by Tamami Tono, Glenn Freeman and Christina Fong respectively; the sho – a kind of mouth organ with bamboo pipes – is the most prominent voice throughout, while both the watery sounds of the conch shells and the violin appear more sparsely over the course of the pieces. The whole is not really easy to swallow, despite the many long silences and sonic events similar to a light breeze changing direction depending on the main current. It never becomes violent or harsh, although its gentle immobility is somehow characterized by frequent dissonant, even strident clusters, courtesy of the sho’s peculiarly grainy all-highs register. After a while, we find ourselves immersed in a typically Cageian “no expectation” situation, the music existing only for its sheer presence or as an inevitable phenomenon. Aesthetic considerations are out of context here, as the player is just a means for a pre-existing vibration to be translated into sound; it exclusively depends on the receiver’s predisposition if this works or not. The magnitude of the concept, like in many of Cage’s compositions, overcomes the “lyrical” or “emotional” aspect, thus it is not strange to perceive this music as slightly annoying in some of its components. But it still carries a heavy weight, representing yet another example of Cage’s most important teaching, namely learning to listen what surrounds us – good or bad sounding, it doesn’t matter – and assimilate its intrinsic values to put them at good use as a defence against unbalance, or even as a new dimension in which isolate ourselves and get better trained against all kinds of adversity.

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