Commisioned: 2001 Powerhouse Museum, with support by the Australian Council of the Arts
Each of the works in this Sound Cycle has been composed in reference to an object from the collection of the Powerhouse Museum, in the hope of ‘illuminating’, through music and poetry, some aspects of their nature and their relationship to the human psyche. Originally composed with the aim of making these ‘objects’ accessible to the inner sight and imagination of the blind and sight-impaired community, they are now dedicated to the ‘inner-sight’ of one and all.
1. Totems 12:00
As with some of the other objects referred to in this Cycle, but possibly even more so, Primary Totems (constructed from thrown-away consumer goods - plastic containers, plastic toilet seats, etc this work by John Dahlsen has, through a creative interpretation and re-contextualisation, been transformed into art, and as such reveals far more than is immediately apparent to the naked eye.
Deep Time 16:30
Ah ‘Time’; now there is another iconic, or should one say totemic concept, which we in our digital wrist-watch wearing world take for granted as a self-evident given: -‘it’ ‘exists’ in the ‘real’ world, and we are just simply ‘measuring’ ‘it’. The ‘clock’ on which this work is based is however, far more than a measuring device; rather, a sacred, religious social site within which were embedded, (again as self-evident givens) the movement of the seasons, planets and sun, as they all revolved around our earth) just as ultimately the cosmos revolved around our uniquely appointed position in the centre of God’s created universe.
And yet, doubt and fear as to the strangely contradictory aspects/roles of the universe, mother- nature, or life, always creeps in; even the contemporary human reality is insecure, -and we are armed with extremely accurate digital wrist-watches!
Whatever it Takes - Narrator, Sax, Didjeridu, Strings, Pno, Perc. x 4 (incl. vibes, mar, xylo, B. drum) ~13:45
(Pause at end of Fig. 2:)
Each age, and at all times, -the need to survive
Fig. 3: Whatever it takes, whatever it takes.
We are all a loved one, each and every one
As the needed, and in needing
As in love, the ‘I’ is greater than the sum.
(Pause at end of Fig. 4:)
Our times truly together so fragile, so rare,
Easy to forget, it's a breath at a time, to be present, to care........
No Matter how Bright - Narrator/voice, Sop sax, Clar (Eb & bass) Strings, Pno, Perc. x 4 (incl. vibes, mar, xylo, crotales) ~10:30
“Ashes to ashes, and dust unto dust…”, though deep, tells only part of the story, because in the end (so far as it would seem) it is all ultimately “from light unto light”, (E = mc2, if you follow my drift).
The sun, (only a couple of steps removed from the big bang) glowed; radiating light, (happily, freely, its whole being and purpose at one) onto the earth, bathing life with its dangerous yet powerful beneficence, while life, drinking deeply of its radiant gift created itself into more matter. From Deep Space, through Deep (geological) Time, transformations into, and out of matter (ceaselessly, ever and ever…) occurred- and the rest is history: We turned the matter/(coal) into heat, which enabled us to turn matter into metals, which then allowed us to turn water into steam, which, spinning the metals round, transforming the movement into electrons, (or some such things) …and then on to the planets, etc, etc, ultimately back into light….on and on, the universe a playground of trans-lucent formations (?) … on and on; Let there be Light.
So too this piece, which in its own way is an almost ‘Moto perpetuo’, has pauses, drifts, and respites, but these are apparent only; -the underlying rhythmic drive moves on, inexorably.
23rd June, 2010
If Leaves could sing - solo piano ~7:00
Deep Space - Sop sax, Clar.(Eb & Bass), Didjeridu (in Eb) Strings, Pno, Perc. x 4 (incl. vibes, mar, xylo, timp) ~16:30
One generations’ amazement becomes the next ones ‘ho hum’; one more remove and it becomes ‘when was it ever not thus?’ In a similar way, evolution, of a species or culture seems to move in similar fashion; changes not easily observed from one generation to the next quietly develop, yet, at certain points, critical thresholds appear; and (if we haven’t totally fucked the planet and our chances for continued development as a technologically …. oriented/facilitated species) this may in fact be one of them –at least on the level of our consciousness and relationship, individually, and as a species to the vast, limitless, and in many ways ever expanding depth of the ‘ground’ of being in which, and, so it would seem, as which we appear (you know, the universe, our subtly expanding ontological matrix…)
To anyone who has experienced, first-hand, something of the concrete reality of space travel (and in my case it is only to have stood underneath the bell of the Saturn booster) will surely understand (if one has let the implications sink in, on an imaginative/feeling level) something of the meaning of the word ‘awe’. That this dimension is the result of the web of inconceivably complex social, intellectual and technological and invention, historically deep, spanning many ages and cultures, yet, at it’s root is grounded in, an expression of the un-nameable essence, drive, or ‘spirit’, born in and as the ‘physical’ body and its instinctive libidinal drives. 10th June, 2010
Loco-Motives - Narrator/voice, Sop sax, Didjeridu (in G) Strings, Pno, Perc x 4 (incl. vibes, T bells, glock, mar, crot.) ~13:30
The simple act of travel –to personally ‘get around’, so utterly taken for granted. Nowadays a given in our unconscious sense of self, and becoming, which, predicated on a long and very specific, and in our case, Australian history, is based on, and helps ‘us’ sustain our belief in the ownership of ‘our’ land.
[Memories, as a very young child of an incredible journey in a steam-train, travelling from Brisbane to the small town of Mooloolah for a stay at my grandfathers’ farm; and even now, the sound of clanging bells with their subtle Doppler pitch-shift, (even as the electric train travels between Sydenham and Marrickville) evokes a deep archetypal sense of ………]
So too in Loco-Motives, the ‘journey’ just rolls along, in spite of the occasional unevenness of the rhythms as one goes over some humpy-bumpy tracks, and of course, the sound of the approaching bells slowly rising, then lowering in pitch and volume as one goes past the deserted crossings and small towns.
Tapestry of the Sun - Narrator, Strings, Pno, Perc. x 4 (incl. vibes, mar, T bells, xylo, timp, dobache) ~10:15
Many times as I worked on the score or text, or in combination, something in myself would break, release,…. and I would weep… a deep bodily sobbing, as I had glimpses of the countless lives, realities, human beings who had to face and deal with, directly and in the most concrete way issues which we, (in part through their actions) are fortunate enough not to have had to deal with. So it was that I came to understand, and respect/honour, on a deep emotional level, something of the term, “Lest we Forget”.
12th June, 2010
Like waves on an ocean-Ten. sax, Clar.(Eb & Bass), Didjeridu (in Eb) Strings, Pno, Perc. x 4 (incl. vibes, T. bells, mar, xylo) ~14:45
Every piece, I have discovered, in this cycle (as I worked on them) is my ‘favourite’ one, but Like Waves…is an especially ‘favourite’ because it addresses, both emotionally and intellectually, something of the profound nature of perception and our embodiment in ‘the’ world. As such, the ‘object’ itself reveals something of the ways in which the experience of a world, as well as self, is determined and historically developed through cultural forms; symbols, image/imaginings and desires reflected, refracted, experienced and felt through the lens of different cultural life-worlds.
10/- A-Drift (Addendum to Totems) -Sax (Ten or Sop), Strings, Pno, Vibes, & Didje ~10:00
This work originally formed the concluding ‘groove’ section in Totems, but when I expanded that work by writing a song, the overall piece became far too long; something had to go. So, this now stands in its own right; simple, peaceful, and still… just simple.
(Hey, when one sits in a train, and upon entering a tunnel, feels a twinge in ones genitals, with a dim awareness, underneath the surface of ones conscious, socially well-adjusted personality, barely able to be articulated, of entering/penetrating the earth, (experiencing oneself as a driving force, (at one with the train)) one realises how transparent, how thin the veneer of the rational, civilised self is…but that is another story…)
Or is it simply that, in my own mind, I have come to understand these issues as I worked with the object, and in the process also wrote some nice simple ambient lines, drifting over an archetypal throbbing didje…
“A contemporary new work fusing image, poetry, music and song composed by Romano Crivici comes to life after 10 years in the making. Originally inspired by iconic objects from the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney) and aimed at making them accessible to the blind and sight-impaired community, Heart of the Matter gives voice to each of the objects, which now speaks to one and all.
With a stellar line-up of 13 performers, featuring powerful didjeridu-based rhythmic grooves and massed drumming, through to ambient, gentle string lines and soaring improvisation on the saxophone, (and the bass clarinet) this performance promises to be an unforgettable musical journey” … and so said our publicity material leading up to the two concerts given on the 9th and 10th April, 2011; and in truth, so they were.
Combining text, spoken and sung by Catherine Mahoney, Heart of the Matter was composed with various performers specifically in mind, and whilst most of it is notated, important elements were provided by these wonderful improvising musicians.