Conceptual Soundproductions Budapest
Antoine Beuger: ‘to the memory of’
composed for and performed by Conceptual Soundproductions Budapest.
Conceptual Soundproductions Budapest was founded by myself, in 2015, at the university of visual arts Budapest (MKE), with the objective of combining conceptual thinking, as is common in contemporary visual arts, with an experimental music practice.
the term ‘conceptual soundproduction’ basically indicates a form of sonic art, in which the conceptual element dominates over profession. a ‘conceptual’ work of art is basically one that estabishes her own context, outside the conventional artistic media. a ‘concept’ is not something that is located within the object of art, in terms of an expressional content; it is rather an imaginary space, which is created around that object, allowing it to appear in a particular perspective; and it is only within that space, that the object holds an art status. consequently the actual creative process consists in the shaping of that space, rather than in that of the object. the object itself can be shaped by virtually anyone.
this having said, Antoine Beuger’s ‘to the memory of’, which he wrote in 2016 for CSB, at my request, can be regarded a conceptual piece to quite a high extend. the score delivers no further specification of the material than “sounds”, “words”, and “silence”. the actual objects must be shaped by the performer, according to her own ideas. the score creates a perceptual space, whithin which the individual object can make her appearence, quasi as an object on aesthetic view. Beuger creates this space in that he particularly emphasizes the attention for the object’s appearence and disappearence; as he explained to me via email, the emphasis lays not merly on the object’s material appearence, but not least on the individual person, making her appearence, via the object.
Beuger has repeatedly confessed to the practice of unintentionality, as introduced by John Cage, with the event-piece 4’33”. However as distinguished to Cage, who was primarily concerned with deliberating the individual sound from her semantic functions, Beuger is even concerned with deliberating the individual performer, from her function of executing compositional instructions.
in view of this objective ‘to the memory of’ marks a preliminary high point in Beuger’s work, since the score dispenses completely with parametric indications. At a first reading, I was immediately stroke by the absence of the dynamic indication ‘soft’ or ‘very soft’, which I had thought was a basic condition of Antoine’s music; since it appeared in any of his scores that I had studied so far, in one form or the other. just to be sure, I wrote him an email, asking whether I should assume that the softness of sounds needs not to be furtherly mentioned, or whether it actually shall not apply to this piece. Antoine replied, that he simply did not want to exclude any sounds.
in view of performing the piece, unintentionality is meanwhile not a possible way to go. on the contrary, the more open a score is, with regard to selfresponsible choices, the more decided the performer must be, with regard to the individual choices he makes. my approach, as the director of the ensemble, was to view the individual sound as a piece in itself; a sonic object, which should be consciously shaped, in every aspect, like any other work of art should. with this in mind, the piece as a whole became sort of an exhibition of sonic objects.
following the rehearsals we always had a discussion about what were the possible criteria for a ‘good’ sound, how one could improve the sounds he produces, with regard to both expression and technique, and how to develop a sense of timing. with the spoken word part, an additional, so to say ‘poetic’ dimension comes into play, since with an object of language, the semantic content can never be completely suspended. at this point the question arises, of what would be the criteria for a ‘good’ word in this context. following the model of the individual sound being a piece of music in itself, correspondingly the individual word would be in itself a poem.
this reminds me of an annecdote that I had once read in Claire Goll’s memoires. James Joyce had once, at a dinner party, claimed to have finally found the particular word, he had been searching for ages. everyone looked at him couriously. he savoured the maximum attention for a moment, and then he leaned back and said: ‘the’.
the individual word, as an object of poetry in itself, is a ready-made. it does not become poetry via its semantic content, but via its appearence in the conceptual space. in principle it could be any word; however a choice has to be made. that what matters in the conceptual space, is the performance of choice.
I am not quite sure if my approach matches with Antoine’s idea of the piece. I can imagine that he would feel a bit uncomfortable with the product-orientation of the whole procedure; he would possibly say, that it is about the intimacy of the situation, and not about making ‘art’. he would possibly even reject the term ‘conceptual’ (?) this nonewithstanding, there seems to be some kind of a common ground, at least in the final result. after having sent him the recording, Antoine wrote me back: “I have listened to it several times, and I am totally inspired”.