Saturday, 10 January 2009
Giacinto Scelsi alternative reality
Nice, sheltered Alice is sitting with her boring sister by a river when suddenly a rabbit runs past. But not any rabbit. This one wears clothes, walks and splutters "I'm late ! I'm late!" while looking at his watch. Suddenly reality ceases to mean anything. Alice seizes the moment and chases the rabbit down the tunnel......
That sums up how it feels to to discover Giacinto Scelsi. Of course Alice could simply have observed the rabbit's outward features and drawled "Odd bunny, eh ? neurotic, middle aged, urban" and stayed, cocooned and half asleep on the sunny riverbank. Instead she leaps out of "her" reality and enters a weird new dimension.
Until I realized I had to forget everything I thought I knew about singing, I couldn't get into Scelsi's Art song. Better to have approached him via some other route (as I later discovered). There are three "songs", Sauh, Taigarù and Hô. Say the words together like a chant and hear how they flow into one. Then imagine the chant stretched out, varied, over an hour. Just like Alice's rabbit, Scelsi's universe operates on completely different concepts of time and connection.
Scelsi was a mystery. Even though he died barely 20 years ago, there's little information available about him. He's managed to slip through the cracks of modern society where everything seems under surveillance. So here's a link to a very useful article by someone very much on the ball. Read it, this is good writing, no mental blinkers.
Also read the other posts on this blog - SOME NEW ! -one of the few places on the net where you can find out stuff about this composer and those he influenced. http://www.musicalcriticism.com/recordings/cd-scelsi-chukrum-1008.shtml
and Peter Graham Woolf's Scelsi obit from The Independent
And here is a free download !