Intercommunicative encounter between Eastern and Western musical cultures

2012.06.01

Intercommunicative encounter between Eastern and Western musical cultures
[Work] Review for maKroPHONIA co-production process


The makroPHONIAproject premiered the day before Palm Sunday, the start of the Holy Week for Christians. Its backdrop was the Easter Festival IMAGO DEI 2012, staged in a secularized Gothic church called Minoritenkirche that has been renovated and adapted into the Klangraum Krems, a venue for exceptional festivals. Its home is the small but picturesque town of Krems, located 70 kilometers west of Vienna on the Danube River.

This project, makroPHONIA, is the outcome of a workshop called ‘Exploration of Colors’ See related article from theApro that was organized on Jindo Island in February 2011. Since then, it has developed into one of most intriguing co-productions we’ve ever been involved in. Even with the outstanding success it has enjoyed—something ascribable not least to its marvelous artistic proponents and unique conceptual content, and to the unstinting support of all involved—it still needs to be thought of as a kind of work in progress. It deserves every chance to continue forward with its philosophy, along with all the excellent musicians and partners taking part in it now. At the very least, I hope this can happen.

Of shadow’s praise and the light of the small things
Visual micro-structures of everyday living environments as compositional substance of contemporary soundscapes

Created by Renald Deppe and Michael Bruckner-Weinhuber together with various Korean musicians, the concept was one in which visual micro-structures taken from natural environments were used as component materials for contemporary soundscapes. What does this all mean? It is a form where Deppe’s artistic ink drawings and Bruckner’s macro-photographical works function as compositional elements, as sheets of music in a “practical” sense—and as artworks in and of themselves, in a metaphorical or philosophical sense. The intention was to depict lengthy macro-structures as a way of achieving the audible from the visible, something that is further amplified through different methods of musical composition and improvisation, up to and including macrotonal and microtonal music. . . .
In this way, micro-structural ink graphics and finely detailed macro-photographs created an opportunity to envision natural vibrations of being and things, existence and matter—rendering them audible and visible in the process. The connectedness existing between the senses of vision, touch, and hearing was addressed in the most direct of ways.
This project, then, has at its root a kind of interdisciplinary nature: the expression of a desire to stretch beyond the calcified limits of established musical tradition in listening and performance practices (and thereby leave behind the classical methods of expression). Along more or less the same lines, it also had the goal of devising an intercommunicative encounter between contrasting characteristics of Eastern and Western musical cultures.

 

 

The score of makroPHONIA

For us Europeans, the intellectual underpinnings of our makroPHONIA project were a fascination with the roots of Korean culture; a respect for the religious, philosophical, and artistic traditions of the “Land of the Morning Calm”; a sincere admiration for the country’s thousand-year-old thinking; and the vital structures that inform Asia’s culture.
In an era of worldwide cultural superficiality and flatness, we are confronted with a globally reaching hegemony—overt yet hidden—of inherently Western economic and value systems, and also with their consequences: social, economic, and environmental barriers, crises, disasters, Cold War-esque triumphs of technocracy, and even a loss of human ethics from a life spent amid opulence and decadence. At such a time, it is all the more essential and meaningful that we reflect on the “light of the small and substantial in our life.” This is not least so that we can shape a more livable existence, and thus a more responsible future.
The infinite variety of human creative energy has to be re-discovered and preserved if it is to be renewed—so that it can respond to the dubious simplicity of intense capitalistic strategies of exploitation and the exclusionary violence of doctrinal ideologies that prevails in our society.

This was the artistic and idealistic reason behind the formation of makroPHONIA. The rational motive was an encounter among artists of various stripes at an unforgettably fantastic workshop on the ‘Exploration of Colors’ on Jindo Island. This encounter was the initiation and starting point for everything, bringing together matching attributes. On one hand, it had the right artists, boasting finely honed and fascinating instruments and unique temperaments and creativity. On the other, it offered the right partners from cultural institutions, providing all the necessary conditions to organize and bring about this exciting project and its extraordinary content: KAMS with ‘Exploration of Color’, and NOE-Festival with IMAGO DEI. Both endeavored to establish an effective and useful Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program through international exchange. See related article from theApro Only through the interplay of various forces—the festival theme context, the people contributing all kinds of intangible and tangible resources—was this marvelous success possible. In its early stages, this project was to include a tour of Austria and other European countries, helping to provide makroPHONIA with a suitably international pedigree and continuity. But it soon ran into difficulties with the cost of an expanded international tour, as well as a lack of dedicated commitment on the ground, owing to the absence of representative management or employees. So after its premiere, makroPHONIA decided to hold four additional performances at smaller venues: three in Austria, and one in Italy’s South Tyrol. This was done to cut down on travel and accommodation costs, but it was also very successful—not because it was all that lucrative in financial terms, but because it had the ideal intangible effect of promoting the artists’ and project’s continuity and alerting the public to the concept.

For the sake of this unique project, its content, and all the participating artists, I wish to plead for whomever it may concern—promoters, journalists, sponsors, cultural institutes, or any other interested persons—to continue working for the continuation of makroPHONIA. This is not only because of its themes, but also because it still has a great deal of artistic potential for progress and development. It is also essential to develop the project’s international nature and promote mutual cultural understanding between the Eastern and Western traditions.






Gayageum performer Kyungso Park said:

“These days in Korea, many young musicians, and even artists from other genres, have begun improvising pieces of all kinds of styles and genres. This is gratifying to me as a participant in the markoPHONIA project because I have learned how to make structured improvisation work. I’ve seen a lot of avant-garde improvisation, but some of it didn’t really work as art—it seemed like a lot of talking. I like our project because our music is truly open to each and every musician, while also having a strong structure and a message we hope to express with our music.”
“I’ve found a lot of sparkling ideas. We Korean traditional musicians tend to be educated and trained with the playing of old songs, so we are comparatively less familiar with developing new musical ideas. Through participating in the makroPHONIA project, we’ve gained an easy opportunity to approach new sounds and figure out how to express them.”

Links

| AIR Krems    Go
| Imago Dei    Go
| makroPHONIA    Go
 

Author

Josef Aichinger _ NOE Festival Artistic director
Josef Aichinger _ NOE Festival Artistic director

Josef Aichinger is the Artistic director of NOE Festival, AUSTRIA. He is creating artistic projects, cooperative relations with medias and maintaining of international relations with music festival and  cultural exchange of international range.