Mr. Bosetti, what inspired you to compose “Minigolf” ? Is there perhaps a literary text, an interesting event or a very specific aesthetic idea that was already there at the beginning?
The main inspiration for Minigolf and for the earlier “Hand Made Radio”* experiments has been the radiomaking of the 30’s and particularly Orson Welles “Mercury Theater on the Air” a weekly series of live radio dramas that aired on CBS in 1938. The idea of creating a sound world around a single microphone without any chance of editing or electronic sound manipulation fascinated me. Back then everything was made in real time, most of time around just one ribbon micrphone, music and fooley effects included and immaginary sound spaces had to come out from the limited perspective of a mono signal.
In the infamous “War of the worlds” for example, the change from an outdoor to an indoor situation was achieved by simply approaching a watch to the micorphone. And still people believed it and that radio play caused widespread panic around the USA.
Our undestanding of media has changed since then but that early magic has still some power over me.
For Minigolf I trasposed this technique, back then a necessity, nowadays a choice, into a much more abstract and contemporary aestetic suited to my creative world.
Other inspirations are the writings of Peter Szendy, in particular “Sur écoute. Esthétique de l’espionnage” where it’s made clear how much of of “overhearing” is hidden in our listening practice. How much do we listen to music and how do we “overhear” it? And how much is music “overhwearing” us?
Our perception of music goeas throug a pin hole, a tiny passage, may be that our ear, a conduct of the panopticum, a narrow cultural paradigm, a mono microphone or, methaporically, a minigolf hole.
There are many other inspirational instances but to keep it short I just would like to mention the early Dan Graham experiements with “Hand Made video loops”. Performaces “Performer/Audience/Mirror” or “Past/Future split attention” are wonderful and elegant examples of works where observing and being observed – which for me transalted in listening and being listened – merge into one single action and process that is enacted with extremely econimical means, just people, sometimes a mirror.
Are you examining the game as such or is the Minigolf intended just like a methaphore?
Well, yes, i gave that away… It’s just a methaphore, or even less, a figure or translucent symbol. In my work there’s a lot of speaking, words, stories, and most of them come out of the blue, just from nothing. I am fascinated by unprompted speaking, unexpected associations, unreadably allegories. Minigolf, where the hell that came from? Minigolf was a thing and a word that was hanging there in my mind, had a special place but no speacial meaning, simply some special place that was funny and worryisome at the same time. Problem is, once you start looking at those allegories long enough then you start finding the reasons, they want to talk to you “look, this is why you choose it! don’t you understand what the minigolf is?”.
What is the musical material of “Mini Golf”?
Speech. I have this practice of working out my musical structures from linguistic structures. Spoken interaction. People spying each other from a key hole and describing what the see for example. People taliking all the time. And here you get those wonderful singers… A lot of work it’s made around of speech melodies, it’s about finding a unstable area between speaking and singing and make space in there, learn the speech prosodies and bring them to a new melodic temperature in the tradition that started with Janacek, continued with Steve Reich, Renè Lussier, Robert Ashley and still has a lot to… (ah, sorry for the stupid joke) … say.
Why did you choose the inmage of a mini golf ball for the audience of this piece?
Did I ? I don’t tihnk so. There are no images for this piece. Just a hole. We have to make it clear to the audience that what they will look at (and listen to) in this piece is just a hole. A tiny dot. It’s like a key hole. Or a camera obscura to use a more appealing renaissance example. A pin hole. All wil come out of there. We all have to go through this narrow passage to get somewhere, birth, death, be able to learn somthing, be able to understand something. A piece fo music for example.
We have to be clear with the audience with the fact that in this piece there is nothing to see. The ensemble is there but hidden. And the sound is mono, coming from a single loudspeaker. At first it’s a quite fristrating situation requiring an active adjustment by the audience. Eventually it may become a very rewarding one.
Minigolf is an acousmatic piece in the most strict of ways, as acousmatic (ἀκουσματικοί) were the lessons that philosopher Pythagoras held behind a curtain to avoid visual disturbance. Differently from acousmatic music in the french Musique Concrete tradition here there’s no tape or electronic sound transformation involved besides one mike and onle loudspeaker. But I still think this perfectly qualify as acousmatic music.
Is “Minigolf” strictly composed or is there improvisational freedom, perhaps for the performer anne Laure Pigache?
Both, there are extended strictly composed passages used as modules floating within a sort of “talk show” that is very open and casual in it’s unfolding. As it’s often the case in radiophonic situations it’s not always easy for the listener to figure out what is fixed and what is just coming to mind in the moment. In regard to the more specifically written vocal music in the past couple years I had been delving in a sort of neo madrigalism. It has been hard to escape the seduction of polyphonic intricacies from Gesualdo to Sciarrino and the dream of a polyphonic music that’s based on intricated chatter at a dinner table or such. Sill, after several attempts, I had to come to terms with the clumsiness of my own writing and break things down quite a lot, make them simpler.
What is the role of the performer Anne Laure Pigache in the in “Minigolf”? Is she in a musical dialogue with the Neue Vocalsolisten during the performance?
She is the radio within thew radio, a phantasmatic figure that is also a disturbance, an interference. She is the tap (Wasserhahn) where the stream of thoughts comes out that we all have in the mind. People that have tried meditating know how difficult is to shut down that stream. There’s always a new thought popping up from somehwere as if there was a radio inside the mind that”s broadcasting non stop.
Does “Minigolf” belong to any category or genre? – text-sound composition, radio play, acoustic theater?
Probably all of this and also as we said before a piece of vocal acousmatic music. I don’t do too well with categories. It comes to mind the fact that contemporary multimedia forms seems to strive towards a saturation of the whole sensorial landscape. 3D, surround, simulated reality etc. are forms that tend to take over all senses and leave little to the active imagination of the audience. I am personally not a big “reductionist” but I often get fascinated by works where one perceptive tool is missing rahter than added. I have to think of one of my favorite movies, “Russian Ark” by russian director Aleksandr Sokurov where there are no cuts. All the movie is made in one shot, one extremely long camera movement. By watching it I felt challenged. Something is missing and a huge space for active watching opened up in its place. At first i was disoriented, almost seasick, “when is the cut going to come? when will it let me go?” but then I commited to it and took the ride. It was a good one.
* radio workshops using early monophonic radio techniques, started in Arles in 2012