commonplace book


The featured image is by artist Angela White and shows portraits of condensed dew painted on stones gathered on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest.

It was at the end of 1956 that the real shift occurred. At this time tracts were distributed announcing the existence of a Voice of Free Algeria. The broadcasting schedules and the wavelengths were given. This voice `that speaks from the djebels,' not geographically limited, but bringing to all Algeria the great message of the Revolution, at once acquired an essential value. In less than twenty days the entire stock of radio sets was bought up.

–Franz Fanon, “This is the Voice of Algeria”

Wherever we are, what we hear mostly is noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating. The sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour. Static between stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments. Every film studio has a library of “sound effects” recorded on film. With a film phonograph it is now possible to control the amplitude and frequencey of any one of these sounds and to give to it rhythms within or beyond the reach of the imagination. Given four film phonographs, we can compose and perform a quartet for explosive motor, wind, heartbeat, and landslide.

–John Cage, “The Future of Music: Credo”

The essence of normal language is that the intention to speak can reside only in an open experience. It makes its appearance like a boiling point of a liquid, when in the density of being, volumes of empty space are built up and move outward. As soon as [a person] uses language to establish living relation with himself or with his fellow [persons], language is no longer an instrument, no longer a means–it is a manifestation, a revelation of intimate being and of the psychic link which unites us to the world and our fellow [persons].

–Maurice Merleau-Ponty (taken from Anne Hamilton’s commonplace book as shared in “the common SENSE," October 11, 2014-April 26, 2015, Henry Art Gallery)

I hate to say it, but it’s true that I am not really a good academic. For me intellectual work is related to what you could call aestheticism, meaning transforming yourself.

–Michel Foucault, "The Minimalist Self”

Of all the countless Worlds I’ve known . . . of the myriads of Planets upon which I’ve Trod . . . Never have I known a race so filled with Fear . . . with dark Distrust . . . with the seeds of smoldering Violence . . . as THIS . . . which calls itself . . . HUMANITY!

–Norrin Radd (AKA, The Silver Surfer), “The Origin of the Silver Surfer”

For example, we might use the attack of a lute to model the beginning of a sound, and move from the lute to the decay of an electric guitar at the end of the sound.

–Allesandro Cipriani and Maurizio Giri, Electronic Music and Sound Design

Sound can be seen as a stage in the life of energy as it does work and moves towards entropy. Entropy increases as energy spreads out and seeks more freedom. It hasn’t been destroyed but it’s been lost to us; it’s become random or disordered and unable to do work. This is background heat.

–Andy Farnell, Designing Sound

The composition is the C program. This is a great step forward.

–Edited by Victor Richard Boulanger and Victor Lazzarini, The Audio Programming Book

The degree of change is a quality that can be composed as well as the characteristic of the music that is actually changing. I can compose with a series of degrees of change, or we can call them degrees of renewal.

–Karlheinz Stockhausen, Moment-Forming and Momente

New means change the method; new methods change the experience, and new experiences change the man.

–Karlheinz Stockhausen, Four Criteria of Electronic Music

This is the point: whereas it is true that traditionally in music, and in art in general, the context, the ideas or themes, were more or less descriptive, either psychologically descriptive of inter-human relationships, or descriptive of certain phenomena in the world, now we have a situation where the composition or decomposition of a sound, or the passing of a sound through several time layers, may be the theme itself, granted that by theme we mean the behaviour of life of the sound. And we live through exactly the same transformation that the sound is going through. The sound splits into six, and if we want to follow all six, we have to become polyphonic, multilayered beings.

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Four Criteria of Electronic Music

What I liked about films when I was younger, in wartime, was that they often made me weep . . . because they were always about guys in submarines, being in love with their girls at home, going away and never seeing them again, but their love would go on for ever – this kind of fantastically idealized, fictional love made a deep impression on me.

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Some Questions and Answers