The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

March 19, 2017


I keep forgetting what I need to do or who's running this
country. I keep falling down when I take anti-anxiety medication
to keep running this country. I crawl across the floor trying to
remember places I've lived. I keep living remembering floors
everywhere, that even in a plane I don't escape them. I keep my
weeping to myself and my partner, taking no solace in a lone
fruit perhaps dying in a refrigerator or on a counter. I am that
counter and that fruit. I keep remember adjectives of hatred I
apply to myself and chant accordingly. I keep forgetting chants
and take solace in hatred. I keep waiting for the knock on the
door and the heavy-set man in armor behind that knock with his
fist behind that knock. I keep remembering that fist. I keep
remember being kicked with intent to kill in Brooklyn at the end
of my block. I keep remembering the corrupt cops who said if I
pressed charges it would go on my record not the perpetrator's.
I keep forgetting to remember and keep remembering to forget. I
crawl across the street at the end of my block and attempt to
stand. I stand in our apartment and wonder why I am standing. I
wonder where the end of the street is. I wonder why I am dying
on a street in a strange city. I wonder what a street is. I keep
looking at the floor and my legs look at me. I keep wondering
why my eyes are not my eyes. I crawl across screens with things
that move on them. I keep wondering what my eyes see.

LIMIT cd from Public Eyesore, more information -

Below is an expanded description of the work -

"For a new music"

"Time Reversal and Anticipation in Music"

Using reverse reverberation, it's possible to create a
simulacrum of time reversal, the spatial environment itself
producing the sound, which always follows, always ensues.
In other words, spatiality, temporality, produce the sound
which is emblematic, responsive, to the exigencies of the
aural resonance, and likewise, the human body, the body of
the musician, is an emergent property of the whole. Space
is a dwelling in eternity, and speech has already been
spoken in a form of future anterior. Behind us, we find
ourselves in the future, and before us, the anticipation
of a creation yet to come.

(See Derrida, No Apocalypse, Not Now, (full speed ahead,
seven missiles, seven missives), Diacritics 14/2, 1984"

And some fragments on reverse reverberation and inverting
amplitudes -

inverting amplitudes foregrounds body and operational instrument
sounds; these are pieces which treat bodywork as fundamental to
music, the body presencing; the usual focus of an instrument,
proper sounds, almost a shell or manifold across flesh and
breath. i haven't made work like this before, interior and
exterior exchanged in an incredible sonic mapping tending
towards possibilities (at least for me) of new modes of sound
and musical philosophy.

everything is experience and body; the transformations appear
elementary, but create dwellings in alternative worlds that
resonate with what we always already know;

theories of unthemed dwellings, nomadic commons coming together
and falling apart, falling apart and coming together, defeat of
the punctum-turret, alignments of universal skies

'Since I must save the day of tomorrow, since I must have a form
because I don't feel strong enough to stay disorganized, since I
inevitably must slice off the infinite monstrous meat and cut it
into pieces the size of my mouth and the size of the vision of
my eyes, since I'll inevitably succumb to the need for form that
comes from my terror of remaining undelimited - then may I at
least have the courage to let this shape form by itself like a
scab that hardens by itself, like the fiery nebula that cools
into earth. And may I have the courage to resist the temptation
to invent a form.' (Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to
G.H., trans. Idra Novey, Penguin, 2012, p. 7)

nothing is comfortable when the transitional turns you on

The grain of the voice, grain of the almost-black, grain of the
seething world. Among the last dark and first black, the
granular. The grit of the primal scene, grit of the floor, of
the bed, of the stairwell, grit of the river dock, of the great
outdoor projection screen, of the hallway. Grain and grit as the
world turns black, as achitecture shifts, architectron. As the
visibility of great expulsions. As great visibility.

most innovative playing by the master of fifth.fourth.fifth

the music/sound of anticipation and hope, among a dying friend,
stabilized companion cat, panic attacks and depressions, and
yet, the hope of the salvation of sound, so this piece is one of
tuning up, getting ready for a performance or a recording, but
the anticipation, the hope, of course become the performance
itself, just as hope gathers hope and anticipation of hope
becomes, appears, at the very beginning of hope, hope itself,
and then, more-so, becomes comfort, enlightenment, advance

we live always in such advance of death, decay, slaughter,
illness, but we also live in-spite-of, the circulation of
culture and culture's prohibitions and transgression, such makes
us somehow more human, more among communality, more gladness

And here are the liner notes:


Luke Damrosch: programming, engineering, madal
Azure Carter: songs, vocals
Alan Sondheim: mastering, concept, viola, guqin, flute,
clarinet, alto clarinet, long-necked saz, dan moi, ghichak,
ukulele, guzheng, holeless shakuhachi, hegelung, sanshin, rebab

Reverse reverberation in real time is an impossibility;  the
physics of space-time doesn't permit it.  That said, Luke
Damrosch has developed programs that approach the impossible;
the result is a new form of music dynamics. The general idea is
that you can reverse shorter and shorter segments 'almost' as if
they were reversed in real time, but you're really dealing with
fundamental limits of spacetime; only on a quantum level is
reversibility possible (for example a positron as an electron
moving temporally backwards in Feynmann diagrams -
retrocausality in Wikipedia), and that's up for grabs. In any
case, I've been interested in processes that operate at the edge
of this sort of dynamics, where physics, acoustics, and
philosophy meet. And here is a resulting cd, using acoustic
instruments, where this is a guiding principle.

A second example involves the use of dynamics processing (I'm
using Adobe Audition), in which the louder something is, the
quieter the output - reversing the usual dynamics. I've been
doing this in post-processing, but with voltage-controlled
amplifiers, it's easy to do as analog in real time. The result
is fascinating - if I'm playing shakuhachi or guqin for example,
the sounds of breathing, of the body, of string slip, etc., come
to the foreground and the traditional musical 'content' recedes.
The body becomes a fundamental source of sound, almost as if it
were playing itself.

Again there are a lot of contradictions here; since a slow
sinewave, for example, varies in amplitude, it might disappear
or become increasingly dominant itself, depending on the
settings (frequency ranges employed) for the dynamics

I'm also working with pitch reversal, so that, for example, a
frequency F is transformed into 1/F; the basis of F can be set
so that the range as a whole is inverted. You can see how this
is almost the same as dynamics processing; the two are deeply
related. (This hasn't been implemented yet.)

All of this connects to my interest in philosophy and the
foundations of mathematics. Most acoustic transformations are
'surface' transformation, as if the physical acoustic
environment were itself changing (larger or smaller room, etc.),
or as if parameters were changing holistically (raising or
lowering pitch, etc.). There are exceptions, but this is done,
for the most part, in terms of musical or other aesthetics. I'm
interested in something fundamental in a different way.
Traditional foundations of mathematics begins with such things
as logic, set theory, etc. - as you know, anomalies appear all
over the place (Godel's theorem is the most obvious example).
But the tendency now is to look at dynamics based on things like
category theory - in which there are objects and arrows, or
objects and morphisms and rules and structures emerging from
these. Arrows are also objects, objects can be morphisms, etc.
etc. I understand very little of this, but it's really relevant
to the kinds of global transforms that revrev or inversions
represent; I tend to think of dynamics applied through acoustic
spaces for example - at least that's where I'd like to go....

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