Mp3 Blog #8: A Few Views on Time and a Song for Traversal

Gérard Grisey:
Quatre Chants pour Franchir le Seuil: Interlude, Le Mort de Civilisation 1998
Performed by Klangforum Wien and sung by Catherine Dubosc

Available on a c.d. with the complete “Quatre Chants pour Franchir le Seuil”

* * * * *

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

-Albert Einstein

“Of course in music too the problem of time is central. Here, however, its solution is quite different: the life force of music is realized on brink of its own total disappearance…

Time printed in its factual forms an manifestations: such is the supreme idea of cinema as an art…”

-Andrey Tarkovsky

“…we may refer to the marvelous film by Werner Herzog, ‘Aguirre.’ The temporal structure of the film seems to be based on a continuous slowing down, the events becoming fewer and further apart until the end, even as the tension of the viewer grows. This film should also be seen for its evolutionary structure (density of events, behavior of the principal characters, photography, lighting, etc.).”

-Gérard Grisey

The last quote brings me to this post’s mp3. In the last year – after reading Grisey’s commentary on “Aguirre” and studying sections of “Partiels” – I have been preoccupied with the idea of a temporal cross-fade where, for example, events slow down and the tempo accelerates or vice-versa. The second song, “Le Mort de Civilisation” in Grisey’s haunting “Quatre Chants pour Franchir le Seuil” uses this technique on many levels (e.g. tempo, orchestration, harmonic movement). This song’s texts are taken from the scattered remains of Egyptian sarcophagi from the Middle Empire.

[Update: Check the comments where Steve Layton has generously included the song's text in translation (which I was too lazy to do)]

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