Hugo Letiche's Workshop: Rhythmanalysis

11 Aug 2011 - 16:30

Listening can be approached from an anthropocentric and phenomenological position. Attention is then centred on what persons hear. The emphasis is rapidly placed on meaning, structure, melody and order, and not on potentia, chaos, noise and vibration. Rhythmanalysis follows via Bachelard (2000) and Lefebvre (2004) on the thoughts of the Brazilian philosopher Pinheiro dos Santos (writing in 1931). The effort is to break with the Platonic tradition of understanding rhythm as the ordered tempo of existence, speech and drama. The assertion is that, not continuous similarity and measured cadence, but quantum vibration and motion, are characteristic of existence. Music and melody are the exception; motion, tension and ‘screech’ are the commonplace. Sound is mostly portrayed at equilibrium – ie as ordered, continuous and harmonic; but “far from equilibrium” energy and vibration is ontologically the foundation of existence. Vibration is a priori — motion and energy is primary. But only a narrow range of humanly perceptible and interpretable vibrations are normally recognized as ‘listenable’. Other intensities and frequencies form rhythms of existence that differ from (only) those of humanly and socially ordered cadence(s). Rhythmanalysis has as its goal the appreciation of vibrations, energies, motions and intensities that are turbulent. Prioritizing the frequencies that are under (human perceptual) control makes existence look ordered, rational and anthropocentric. Openness to the frequencies outside human (social) control is unnerving, but it does acknowledge the quantum reality of matter, existence and process.

Sound and affect (Goodman, 2010) is an unsettling and provocative field of study. The turn to affect in social studies (and especially anthropology) approaches research not from what is under anthropocentric control, but from what strikes and/or moves us (Stewart, 1006, 2007; Clough & Halley, 2007). Rhythm is affect-ive — ie it moves us. The energies, vibrations and momentums of quantum motion make and affect us. But they are not simply ‘hearable’ or reducible to sensemaking. Sound as commanding affect comes from the ‘white noise’ (Serres, 1984,1993), which is0 originatory to all existence.

In this workshop, the effort will be to hear rhythm as experimental sound attempts to. The Italian ‘futurists’ already began to call for ‘noise’ and ontologically significant sound (versus anthropocentric and clichéd ordered sounds) at the beginning of the 20th century. Unsettling and affective noise (Bain, 2003) has been developed into an ‘art form’. But noise as the pulsation and vibration of energy, and not as the rhythm of control, is still today little heard, understood or experienced. In this workshop, steps will be taken to do rhythmanalysis.

Workshop facilitator: Hugo Letiche
Workshop duration: 1 hour

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This workshop will be conducted in parallel with Elizabeth Simpson’s first workshop and Philip Lewin’s workshop. Please choose one to take part in and do not sign up for more of these three workshops. You may mention your second choice out of these three workshops in the comment box below to mark where you would like to go if this workshop is under- or over-subscribed.