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the score so far

Last week, at the opening of the CAP Diploma show at the Pasquart in Biel/Bienne, I fell into conversation with Francesca Verga, a musician who is also doing doctoral research in Bern on the work of the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi. His work presents a challenge to traditional notions of the manuscript and what it means to write music, instead following what Verga describes as "a very peculiar collaborative way of composing that was articulated in three phases. He was first improvising and recording an audible draft of his pieces; then he was giving the tapes to other composers hiring them to realize the score; and finally he was working in direct contact with his performers in order to guide them through the interpretation of his pieces and the development of particular sound techniques." Scelsi was questioning the authorship of music and the authority of the score, seeking new ways in which to think about what it means to write music down.

Is this another instance of turning the variables up? Each time I visit the Kunsthalle, the soundtrack seems more prominent, the background noise comes more to the fore. The traffic, the river, the snatches of song, and those low grumble rumblings: sound as the elephant in the room.

Elephant, sound, room.

Body, machine, location.

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