Below are some thoughts and concepts around music, philosophy, sound and the Futurist movement as they relate to Borges, Emma Zunz, the idea of the nature of reality or any other ideas I found useful/relevant

Richard Strauss and the concept of Tone Poem – Composition of orchestral music illustrating/representing a poem, short story, novel, painting, etc. They differ from traditional classic symphonies in that their music is intended to inspire listeners to imagine or consider scenes, images, specific ideas or moods, and not (necessarily) to focus on following traditional patterns of musical form such as sonata form. (Wikipedia). I listened to Death and Transfiguration (1889), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1896), and Don Quixote (1897).

Arthur Schopenhauer and the idea of Will & Representation

  • [From Nigel Warburton’s Podcast Philosophy of the Classics] Has been compared to a symphony in 4 movements. “The world is my idea” – Experience is always from the perspective of a perceiving consciousness
    • The World as Idea: our relation to the world we experience as we represent I to ourselves
    • World as Will: a deeper reality than that described by science. Not an intelligence, but blind condition, which leads to suffering
    • Art can provide an escape from Will (suffering). Music differs as it doesn’t represent the world as idea, it is “a copy of will itself”. It can reveal the true nature of reality.
    • Pessimistic: we are doomed to suffer by nature. Only hope is asceticism

Russolo (The Art of Noise, futurist manifesto 1913)

  • Musical Sound is too restrictive. We must conquer infinite variety of noise-sounds
  • The revolution of music goes hand in hand with the proliferation of machines. This prepares the ground for Musical Noise
  • Draws on natural sounds (wind, water, thunder, etc) to begin making an argument
  • Noises are to be analysed, understood, some carry harmony and rhythm
  • “The art of noises will extract its main emotive power from the special acoustic pleasure that the inspired artist will obtain in combining noises.”
  • Six Categories of noises for the futurist orchestra:
    • Roars, claps, falling water, driving
    • Whistles, snores, snorts
    • Whispers, muttering, rustling, grumbles, grunts, gurgles
    • Shrill sounds, cracks, buzzing, jingles, shuffles
    • Percussive noises using metal, wood, skin, stone
    • Animal and human voices: shouts, moans, screams, laughter, sobs.

Edgar Varèse – The Liberation of Sound and the idea of “organised sound”.

  • Musical alphabet is poor
  • Critique on Futurists: noises from bustle of daily life are boring.
  • Envisions new world of instruments that produce sounds created from imagination, sound-masses, shifting planes.
  • Calls for an evolution in music where melodies, harmonies and frequencies will break out of traditional notions. Music notation will be inadequate, new notation will be seismographic. Fed into a machine and played back by such machine.
  • What is music? He quotes Hoene Wronsky: “the corporealization of the intelligence that is in sound”. He didn’t refer to his work as music but rather ‘organised sound’ as a response to people who challenged the notions of music.
  • Poème Electronique (1958)
    • Commissioned for the Phillips Pavilion at the Brussels Fair.
    • Exemplifies the ‘liberation’ of sound
    • Designed for complex spatialisation of somewhere between 350-450 speakers

These four areas have the relationship of having major influences on J. L. Borges. He was influenced by Schopenhauer, and also by the Futurist movement, including P. T. Marinetti (Sound Poem). They also lead interestingly from on to the other from the end of the 19th century, into the 20th century.


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