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ARIA research seminar: Within the Limits

Seminar in the ARIA Research Seminars 2018-2019 series (all lectures Conservatoire at the bottom)

Researcher: Daniela Fantechi

“In 1964 Morton Feldman wrote a work called The King of Denmark. It’s for one musician playing a battery of percussion instruments. In the early Sixties composers discovered that noisy, non-pitched instruments, such as cymbals, gongs, pieces of wood, anything that makes noise, could constitute a fruitful and exciting sound palette to explore. There were a whole slew of solo percussion pieces. Usually they were written for everything but the kitchen sink. (Sometime the kitchen sink, too.) The more sounds the better. […] But in The King of Denmark Morton Feldman, lo and behold, asked the player to play with his fingertips, hands, and any part of the arm. You can’t make a lot of noise by hitting the cymbal with your fingertips.” (Alvin Lucier — Music 109)

This piece by Morton Feldman can be seen as one of the cases in which composers seem to limit themselves in the choice of dynamics, instrumental material, playing techniques, the electronic processes used, and so on. But how can limits and restrictions be a source of creativity? How can they help us find new and different solutions?

The main purpose of this seminar is to investigate the relationships between limits and creativity. Setting limits often means circumscribing an area of investigation, focusing on smaller issues, in order to give them more consideration. The adoption of limits and restrictions can help to frame specific features and to shift attention to different details, to look for hidden connections. During the seminar Within the Limits, the participating artists will present some examples from their own practice and from the contemporary music scene, reflecting on the ability to build relationships and interdependences within the processes of exploration of specifically framed material.

Contributions by:

  • Daniela Fantechi
  • Myriam Garcia Fidalgo
  • Davide Gagliardi
  • Luc Döbereiner