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The Soundless Sound

 

The Soundless Sound (created in 1984, revisited in 1989, 1998, and 2003, with choreography) is an electronic ambience based on the harmonic vibration of silence - in other terms 'the sound of one hand clapping' which is not subject to time or space - and the performance invites all participants to share the experience. Silence is both impossible to attain and ever-present. The noisier the lifestyle, the more important it becomes to find one's silent voice, one silent space. This is a perception of the time-space continuum which is neither subjective nor objective - the 'soundless sound' simply exists, and one can tune into it.

The Soundless Sound was created after a long practice of a Yogananda meditation technique; closing the ear lobes, one listens to the inner sound. This sound unfolded for me as a diatonic tone cluster, the resonance of the Seven Fundamentals (seven tones of a diatonic Pythagrorean scale i.e., C,D,E,F,G,A,B) sounding simultaneously, while harmonics rise and form oscillating patterns developing over time. In relation to an ordinary scale, the difference is that the actual frequencies of these tones range from the very low to the very high, over the entire span of human hearing (20-20,000 Hz). In the electronic piece, I added a 'limit tone' that is so high it is at the edge of hearing perception (maybe cats or dogs could hear it better than humans).

In Vedic hierarchies, correspondence tables match the diatonic set of pitches with the chakras, or energy centers girating in the astral body (a few inches around the physical body) and corresponding to the crown of the head, the brow (between the eyes), the throat, the heart, the navel, the spleen and the genitals. Besides the charkas, the Vedic template shows corresponding elements and mantras (sacred sounds), and I used this as a departure for composing the piece electronically. For the time/space relationship I used the I Ching primary trigram family and its correspondences with geographic locations (North, South, East, West) and times of the day.

This is where I derived the material for Nancy Zendora's choreography, suggesting the I Ching family archetypes (heaven, earth, lake, fire, water, wind, thunder, mountain/father, mother, 3 daughters and 3 sons) as the basis of interpretive characters, and/or combinations and situations for the dance. Note that tonight The Soundless Sound is presented as an excerpt. The full version has 8 parts of 8 minutes each, totaling 64 minutes. I plan to continue to work on this piece over my lifetime. So far, it was purposely never released on CD. It may be at some point when the time is right. It was performed at different stages of development in 1984 (Experimental Intermedia), 1991 (LaMama) and in 1998 at the Knitting Factory with seven live performers under the title Initiation to the Soundless Sound and the same year as an installation/performance within the group exhibition Degrees of Embodiment - Art and Mind Physics at Federal Reserve Gallery, Boston.

The motivation for this body of work corresponds to a sense of responsibility in creating music/sound art that imparts a vision of universal harmony which I developed through years of study of cosmologies and universal hierarchies of various cultures - Vedic scriptures, I Ching, Pythagoras, Robert Fludd and the Alchemists, Newton, Kepler, and modern mathematicians Cousto and Mandelbrot.

More information on The Soundless Sound is available on the Concepts page.

 

Copyright Elodie Lauten 2007