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The Conference of the Birds Part III: Bluebirds-Impro-Unauthenticity-Forest

10 September 2015

Jean-David Caillouet, Dieter Mack and Anothai Nitibhon, Curators


Last year’s symposium at PGVIM aimed at exploring the complex perceptual and aesthetic boundaries between various modes of musical expression. The questions asked were: What is New ? What is Authentic ? What is Classic ? It is clear that there can be no absolute answers to any of those interrogations but that we can rather consider all forms of human expression as being inherently tied to the temporal and cultural contexts they evolve in. What was considered ‘popular’ yesterday is labelled ‘classical’ tomorrow and what is new in Singapore might already be out of fashion in St. Petersburg. 

One musician might try to achieve ‘authenticity’ within a musical context that belongs to a time and geographical location that is totally foreign to theirs while ignoring other musical styles that are rooted deeply within the soil of their native land. In the current globalised context, everyone of us can choose to explore our own local cultures as well as that of other parts of the world. 

We can decide to investigate the musical past as well as the music of today. We are all, indeed, migrating birds singing in the middle of a very large forest of possible futures. In spite of such an encompassing availability, an artist shall never forget his/her responsibility. We should always reconsider the context of something that we use. We should take care that those numerous possibilities of borrowings, combinations etc. never lead to an undifferentiated melting-pot. Diversity and mutual acceptance of difference are still crucial aspects of humanity. 

Combining acoustic and electronic music, visuals and rituals, notations and improvisations, this eclectic evening of sound making featured contributions by Dieter Mack and the PGVIM students, Peter Edwards & Max Riefer as the duet Zero Crossing, Kim Ngoc Tran, Anant Narkkong, Damrih Banawitayakit, Supreeti Ansvananda, Saowakhon Muangkruan, Watchara Pluemyart. Watchara Pluemyart and jean- David Caillouët. 

The Conference Of The Birds Part III: Emmett Williams: somewhere bluebirds are flying high in the sky. in the cellar even blackbirds are extinct. somewhere bluebirds are flying high in the sky. even blackbirds are extinct. in the cellar somewhere bluebirds are flying in the cellar high in the sky. even blackbirds are extinct. somewhere bluebirds are flying in the cellar even blackbirds are extinct. high in the sky. somewhere bluebirds are flying even blackbirds are extinct. high in the sky. in the cellar somewhere bluebirds are flying even blackbirds are extinct. in the cellar high in the sky … 


Dieter Mack, Piano 

Anant Narkkong, Klui 

Saowakhon Muangkruan, Cello 

Watchara Pluemyart, Percussion

Jean-David Caillouët, Soundscapes, Visuals and Live Electronics

Recited by Dieter Mack 

What is unauthentic ? 

Dieter Mack, Speaker 

Approach: Hybridity and Authenticity The dictionary tells us about the “hybrid”: [latin] mixed, of two origins, composed of diverse items…for example “auto – mobil” [Greek-Latin] We call a music “hybrid” if two musical languages or grammars (representative for their respective cultures) meet each other and both origins are still clearly perceptible on different levels. Theoretically this may also happen with more music languages. It would not be wrong as well to state that in the very end, any music culture is the result of adaption and mixing processes. Then the hybrid would be an immanent feature of any “authentic” art work. Seen from cultural or music sciences, the fictitious “pure” or “untouched” is ultimately a chimera which at best still carries a certain radiant nostalgic smell. It reminds us again to that typical romantic basic attitude of yearning for the past and the suffering at the present time which is perceived as imperfect. 

On the other hand, the claim that ultimately everything is hybrid does not help very much. If this would be more or less correct, the term would have no significant meaning anymore, as well as the term authentic. Therefore let us sharpen our focus slightly, which brings me back to the question of defining the frame. Is it already a hybrid music if for example Johann Sebastian Bach picks up compositional techniques of the vocal polyphony from the 16th century (“stile antico”; see Fugue in E-Mayor WTK II)? Can we use our term for the rock music arrangement “The Barbarian” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer which is based on Bela Bartok’s “Allegro Barbaro”? 

And finally, is it hybrid music if we have a collage of quotes from various film musics as it has been done so virtuoso by the New York based musician John Zorn? Visual Mapping: W.etc… 

ธัชวงศ์ ศิริสวัสดิ์, Camera 

Prateep Nara Jattanakul, Sound Recording 

Jean-David Caillouët, Editing, Mixing and Mastering 

Recorded live at PGVIM, Bangkok. 10.9.15 

This event was curated by Jean-David Caillouet, Anothai Nitibhon and Dieter Mack.

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