text to 48

In 1995 I came into the possession of a book by Marguerite Duras.
It was ‘The Afternoon of Mr Andesmas’.
I had found the literary equivalent of what I looked for in musical notes.
A book about waiting, a book written in concentrated, angular sentences.
A static piece of literature, intensely burning yet not immediately clear why.
I spent the entire summer of 1995, and ever since, engrossed in books by Duras.
“To find oneself in a hamlet, someplace far away in a hamlet, in almost total isolation
and to discover that only authorship will mean salvation.
Not to have a single subject for a book, not to have a single idea for a book,
that is the confrontation, time and again, with a book. An impossible void.
A possible book. The confrontation with nothing. With something like alive and naked writing, almost terrible, terrible to overcome.”
(excerpt from: ‘Writing’ (1993),  Marguerite  Duras)
I wanted to write a piece about writing and about being a writer,

the audible process of material reduction, fixation and structuring
and to hear the question being asked: why is it I make THESE decisions ??
The title is a line from ‘C’est  tout’.

In this book, Duras’ lifelong partner notes her last words.
The struggle with disappearance is put into words: the dismay Duras felt by the fact that it was now well and truly too late. A writer who had become so fused with her books
she could no longer imagine a meaningful life without writing.
A writer who had placed so much importance on writing and who had sacrificed so much,
that she finally no longer existed without writing.
Orson Welles brushes by too.

A sign says ‘no trespassing’, a dilapidated fence,
behind it a run-down zoo, gondolas,
in the top right corner you can still see the castle with one window lit up:
the one from the room where Charles Foster Kane lies, thinking about his youth.
He’s also a person who asked himself the question:
what is the purpose
and what remains?
‘Alors, ce serait quoi, ce que tu veux entendre écrire ?’

‘Attendre longtemps, je suis sans identité’ is a piece for solo piano and ensemble.

It starts with just the pianist and his shadow.
He waits and gropes blindly for material that he senses in the dark: 
3 chords and a repeated B-flat.
A pianist looking for new (or forgotten) material,
like the pianist in  Liszt’s ‘Valses Oubliées’.
As if you, the listener, have entered too early and hear something not intended for your ears.
The pianist is occasionally shadowed by a second pianist on an

upright, old piano. This instrument is a shadow, cast by the main piano: an out-of-tune, hovering sound:
an instrument with a past and without swagger.
After this quiet and sober build-up by the two pianos, a goal is achieved: 
3 chords and a repeated B-flat;
then a ‘curtain opens’ and you hear the ensemble and traces of sound, whispering.

 

The ensemble feels and examines the 3 chords against the backdrop of various composed moments of silence.

‘Je n’ai plus rien dans la tête. Que des choses vides.’
Variations arise out of the 3 chords, the texture remains quiet and transparent.

Similar to Duras’ books, there appears to be little going on
and the tension is found mainly in the form and in something lying just below the surface.

 

The piano falls increasingly silent.

Sometimes you can hear fragments of (piano) material on tape: coming from a range of pianos
recorded with old and new microphones on various types of audio tapes.
Some of the recordings are diffuse and indistinct, some sound even clearer than
the piano in the concert hall, others are filtered again, without a layer.

 

The material heard through the loudspeakers refers to the remembrance.

Derivatives of the basic material are subjected to processes of erosion,
so they sound corroded, rusty and worn.
I repeatedly played material over loudspeakers in a studio
and re-recorded it with microphones in the space; the material starts disappearing more and more in this way 
and acoustics, surface noise, and pulverisation take the upper hand.
Something unexpected happens at the end.

Duras once described how the characters, while she was writing in solitude in her house in Brittany,
were so manifestly present
that she conversed with them and every so often 
was even taken over by them. She lost her identity.
At the very moment the author definitely loses her identity, the material takes her place with an almost fairground type of music, carried along by rusty sounding pianos on tape, an old creaky merry-go-round with wooden horses, abandoned and running in circles in a bare and empty space.

After running the grand finale,
mono,
half hidden behind layers of surface noise and accumulated acoustics,
the piece falls silent.
The string and wind instruments support the exhausted material
and carry it out of the concert hall.