Einar Torfi Einarsson
Iceland Academy of the Arts, Reykjavík, IS
Re-notations III: Schumann’s Kreisleriana, I molto agitato
Day 2, 10 November, Orpheus Penthouse, 12:00–12:30
What is a score? What is notation? What is the function of notation? These ontological questions assume that we can capture some essence of a particular thing. But essences can transform and thus we have to dismiss the concept of essence, or transform it with difference à la Deleuze. The answer to such questions is therefore an invitation to experiment with transformations.
If we say that a score under normal circumstances has the potential to release a certain sound world through the engagement of performers, then we must say that the Re-notations project does not release an audible world but a visual world of patterns through the engagement of particular diagrammatic relations. Thus, notation has been transformed in the sense of direction, aim, and function. The notation employed by the Re-notations project does not aim for performance and sonification, rather it contemplates the materiality of performance; it looks back on a particular musical situation, a specific musical location, and fuses time and spatial elements. Is it still notation? “Is” is the wrong word. This way of looking (notating) is both deterritorialisational and reterritorialisational. By extracting the specific stratum of the musical situation in question and replacing/releasing it into another notational context, the “music” or certain music forces escape for a moment and we experience the interplay of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation (both of notation itself and the music being notated). At the same time—the multidimensional potential of music is intensified—music is always becoming (even the classics).
Re-notations is a project/machine that re-notates classical piano masterpieces from a specific angle and with an entirely different aim from the original. It is notation that folds itself onto other notations, other scores, other musics, examining their signifier–signified relations with materiality. Re-notations are always in-between, they do not have their own music; they relate, they repeat, they allow escape. Re-notations focus on the materiality and physical context of the works examined and give us a specific perspective on music, a perspective that maps out the activity in space and time of the physical materials involved: hands and fingers on specific locations on the piano keyboard. Through this, the intensity and density of the involved activity is revealed as an overcrowded space of movements.
A pattern emerges, but not from design or from an author but from a specific diagrammatic relation. Music seen from this perspective is constantly occupying the same locations where actions keep folding one another, repeating differences. A performance of spatio-temporal multiplicity is disclosed. Each keystroke (depression) is accounted for as a link between a spatial location on the keyboard and a temporal axis. Exhausted location, excessive quantity, superimpositions, and interpenetration become the subject of this notational act where the relationship between hands and keyboards, time and materiality, are put to the foreground. The “score” is becoming an abstract, virtual, diagrammatic “recording” of the physical and material situation the music demands: a limited number of space-points are occupied and activated in specific temporal order. This order becomes obscure within a multiplicity of condensed locations. This is the escape of a clandestine stratum of a musical multiplicity (a slice). Thus, notation reverses or diversifies its direction and becomes an active post-performance activity, not instructional, not authoritative, but speculative, reflective, and itself performative.
Einar Torfi Einarsson is an Icelandic composer and researcher. He obtained his PhD from the University of Huddersfield, where he studied on the Jonathan Harvey Scholarship. His music has been performed throughout Europe by ensembles such as ELISION Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, and Ensemble Intercontemporain. His research interests lie in the interplay of poststructuralist philosophy and notation. In 2013–14 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Orpheus Institute (ORCiM, Ghent, Belgium). Currently he lectures at the Music Department of the Iceland Academy of the Arts, where he also serves as the coordinator for the Composition Research Unit (CRU).