Alessandro Bosetti, September 2015.
So far as I know, the practice of meditating on combinations of letters was, before Lull, an exclusively Jewish phenomenon, developed particularly in Spanish Cabala as the the meditation on combinations of the sacred Hebrew alphabet, which according to mystical theory, contains symbolically within it the whole universe and all the names of God.
(Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory. 1966).
At the end of the 13th century mystic and philosopher Ramon Llull had theorised a Ars Combinatoria which could be practiced with the aid of mobile wheels carrying letters and symbols which took the name of lullian wheels.
Working on Klaus Reichert’s texts I made use of sonorous lullian wheels. Within such wheels a limited number of phonetic and linguistic elements have been span or randomly recombined. Quick sequences are created and the perceptive dissolution of the discrete elements of such sequences is achieved through acceleration.
Sequences become textures which are chaotic and coherent at the same time. Each coherent one of them is like a different kind of doe (teig) with a specific taste and consistence associated to it.
Other than John Cage which leaves sound fragments and objects floating in time without any incantatory or repetitive premeditation my procedure seems closer to the incantatory and combinatory game of “change-ringing” – the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called “changes” – than to Cage’s alea. In it a limited number of elements oscillates quickly to the point of generating a new perceived material.
In traditional lullian wheels each notch or box is coherent one to a meaning, be it one of the names of god, a virtue, an attribute, a mineral or a sign of the zodiac.
In my sound version of the wheels each one of the original meaning had been eventually erased. What now circulate are phonemes, emptied in meaning and whose intonation is quivering. Such tiny fragments appear now as small ripples, individual waves that rotate and recombine creating consistent formations. Their main attribute is no longer meaning but rather inflection. They generate sound archipelagos whose traits are uniform as the rocks of a certain place, all slightly different and yet all ascribable to the same geological origin.
Once I have been invited to sonify (Vertönen) the combinatory texts of klaus Reichert for Radio I could not help but perceive in front of me the entanglement of two familiar compositive and philosophical manieras :
One which was deeply rooted into the cabalistic recombination of the letters of a mystical alphabet and into the idea that the name of god or even every other word may contain in nuce the entire universe.
The other which draws inspiration from results of aleatoric recombination as proposed by John Cage, a long time friend and collaborator of Reichert. This practice leaves to chance the power of shuffling cards namely to recombine, sounds, sentences, words and phonemes and by this allowing a potentially infinite number of non-intentional variations.
Both strategies suggest a germination growing out of language which by it’s own unfolding is supposed to let new portions of sensible reality appear.
I found myself in front of a text apparently aiming to take the reader and the composer away from things and towards an idea of language intended as underlying structure, wherein things are taken in consideration in an ambiguous way.
In Reichert texts all objects seemed masked by a most powerful but no less evanescent and diaphanous object which is language. Language which has its hands-on the doe (teig) of reality but is itself a piece of of it by being an object among objects.
I recalled how this approach – that of seeing language as a thing among things – had always been my instinctual way of treating language – or what i believe to be a language – in my work. An approach consisting in having it first disappear in a sort of evanescent embrace only to bring it back later as a solid and concrete object among other objects as stone, fire, people and sounds.
© Alessandro Bosetti, 2015.