Alvin Lussier, John Cage partner, professor, author of one of the most emblematic works in the history of sound art, I’m sitting in a roomOne of the richest and most complex tracks in vocal art history, he passed away at the age of 90 due to complications from a sudden fall.
The dissonance was liberated after the efforts of Arnold Schönberg and his environment, and this liberation moved to the field of duration and dynamics with Pierre Boulez in what was called the integrated sequence, and something remained in the process of preparing to achieve the comprehensive liberation of all components of the musical phenomenon. It was a matter of showing and liberating the materiality of the sound itself, that is, its timbre in the approximate sense. In the 1960s, it was clear to composers that this complete liberation of musical sound was the task to be done and efforts were made in this direction. In France, spectroscientists—Gerard Gracie, Tristan Moriel, and Hughes Dufort—put themselves in the IRCAM Astronomy, a research institute run by the aforementioned Boulez. In the United States, under the control of John Cage, although the results were musically hostile (that’s what critics try to show when they get the chance), similar prospects were in their minds. Of all these Americans, the one who carried this liberation to the farthest and undoubtedly successful episode was Alvin Lussier, who died on December 1st at the age of 90 as a result of an accidental fall.
Lussier studied composition and music theory at Yale and Brandeis Universities, and was Professor at Wesleyan University—the main center for publishing the written works of John Cage—from 1970 to 2011. In 1966 he founded with Robert Ashley, David Brahman and Gordon Mumma, the Sonic Art Consortium; However, one year earlier, he had premiered one of his most important works, Music for solo performance – Work for highly amplified brainwaves and percussion instruments, according to the piece’s subtitle – in a first which he also heard for the first time Rosart Mixby John Cage.
However, the piece that had the greatest impact in his entire production, and became one of the most performed pieces in the entire sound art repertoire, arrived in 1969: I’m sitting in a room. His influence was like that Whitney Museum He decided to name his huge exhibition retrospective of American sound art by that name (I’m Sitting in a Room: Audio Works by American Artists 1950-2000). The idea is simple: in a given room, a series of sounds are recorded with a tape recorder, and then reproduced at the same time they are recorded with another tape recorder, thus in a loop of fixed duration that is fixed to the tape after recording. The result is the gradual loss of sound qualities: first, height, duration and dynamics, but after some time, also timbre. When enough time has passed, what remains is just an echo in space: the sound of space in which the piece is played.
as desired by the composer, and is expressed in the set of degrees expounded by the author and published under the name the rooms (Wesleyan University, 1980), the piece has been and continues to be presented in the most varied places in terms of spaces, languages, durations and actions, and always has a different, unexpected and usually wonderful result for the listener; Hence, for sure, part of her success. The most widespread is an exact 45-minute version done by Lussier himself and published by Lovely Music in 1980, but there are up to 24 hours that are performed in much larger spaces, such as those performed at a chapel in Oberlin, Ohio.
Generating the sounds of the ionosphere, using space as a filter, working with shells, mental retention or sonar, composing with architecture and not with your back, making space audible…of course – as Theodor Adorno pointed out to Cage, Boulez, Stockhausen and other composers he heard at a meeting In Darmstadt he was invited – the great risk involved in this work is to forget the composer’s task and responsibility and to turn away from the fondness of the voice; And in many cases this is clearly the case, but in others, like Lussier, his responsibility as a musician was at the height of his time, picking up musical problems and giving them musical answers, you’re not just working as fat. For postmodern speculation, for subjective experience, but to be useful, even, in listening. Lussier himself recalls in one of his texts how little Edgar Varys was loved because his music was called experimentation: “I do not write experimental music. When I write music, I am already done with experiments.”
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