For sometime I have been fascinated with music in its widest sense whether it is where it spills into opera or the Avantgarde. It has been an unexpected journey for because whilst the pursuit of all things experimental came naturally for me, opera as art form was not on my map for many years. I was far more obsessed with exploring experimental theatre and where it touched dance and the body as in physical theatre, new dance, post-modern dance, performance art, and other cultural movement forms such as Butoh and Body Weather.
It was by chance through my first visit to Argentina with a travel grant from Wales Arts International that I discovered the work of Oscar Edelstein (Composer) and Manuel Eguía (Physicist). Their joint research into the field of acoustics and music was taking sound into an extended form which contained the architectural qualities that I enjoyed in dance and site specific work. In other words they were exploring the exciting world of audio perception and the sense of sound in space.
Their cutting edge research is actually nothing new. Edelstein and Eguía are taking up a conversation between the art and science of music that has a long and fascinating story.
I approach this without the benefit of a background in acoustical science. musical composition, musicology, or physics but as a multimedia artist dedicated to creating artistic experiences that cross that special line from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary, to the oft quoted liminal space, to that otherness that only poets and maybe priests get to occasionally visit and play.
This extensive collaboration between Edelstein and Eguía (which succeeded in being the first research project in Latin America to win major science funding as well as arts funding) re-establishes the old link between science and music - this ambiguous relationship that developed early on in science from the fact that when so often words and vision failed to find adequate explanations for the universe, musical metaphors were a final resort offering concepts such as resonance, vibrations and so on.
In recent times the metaphor of vision has dominated science. This makes Edelstein and Eguía’s work together at the Universidad de Quilmes so important as they take us back into the prioritising of the ear and the process of listening.
The research of historians like Penelope Gouk of Manchester University offer an intriguing parallel to this modern exploration of music as equally a science and an art, as she establishes the importance of music in the development of modern science. Her book "Music, Science & Natural Magic in Seventeenth-Century England" , shows how in the late 16th century and early 17th century the tradition of new experimental philosophy was developing out of the earlier tradition of natural philosophy, and how natural philosophy itself developed out of the tradition of the natural magician - the picture of the lone experimenter who sought to discover universal truths for his personal use or perhaps for that of an elite master. Often music was the source of metaphors used to represent hidden phenomena that could neither be seen or easily put into words. For example the sympathetic resonance between the strings of two instruments was a metaphor frequently used as a way to understand and control unseen forces.
So as well as taking us forward in the field of acoustics, Edelstein and Eguia's work follows in the footsteps of a long line of experimenters who used musical models to illustrate links between the seen and the unseen, right back to the early experiments of the “natural philosophers” of the 16th century, individuals who were working even from before the birth of whom we now call scientists (which is a 19th century term), and whose work itself followed from that of the so called 'natural magicians.'
These experimenters designed instruments as the first attempts to explain the universe in what has been called the “Naturalisation of the marvellous.”
Many of these early experimental philosophers, explains Gouk. were themselves musicians, such as Robert Fludd for whom the practice of music was a step “towards true philosophical knowledge and divine illumination.”
It was only later with the new experimental philosophy that figures like Isaac Newton (1642-1727) searching for underlying structures would begin to draw on maths as a language to reveal the unseen. Before that the properties of bell, lutes, trumpets, and keyboards were frequently used as musical models to describe the functions of the body.
As pointed out by Gouk, the paradox and perhaps the break with the prevalence of the use of musical models came when polyphony was introduced - it was one thing to listen to one instrument and imagine a universal harmony and cosmic order, but this order was under threat when more than one instrument played together. The practice of tuning and temperament had to be introduced as a way to compensate. It was one thing to imagine universal models linked to antiquity such as Apollo - God of Harmony and Cosmic Order with his association with the lyre - an association that court magician John Dee (1527-1608), frequently used. However, put two lyres together and there was a problem. The cosmic order appeared to break down and new models were needed.
It is in this fascinating terrain that Edelstein and Eguia orchestrate the re-meeting of music in its scientific and artistic form. Their work has been patiently and gently taking weight now for over ten years, and the team is ready to show more of the performative results. As a proud member of the production team, I hope this blog begins to identify some of the exciting aspects of this extensive project. I am only beginning here to scratch the surface of the scale of the project and there are others who can speak better about the acoustical science. However I see this as a space to begin new conversations and to offer some material in English and in layman's terms to go alongside the many scientific papers that the research has produced. I hope that little by little I will be able to share a deeper sense of this intriguingly resonant project.
Deborah Claire Procter
Multimedia Artist & Mentor
Founder Clear Insight Productions
For questions and more information: email@example.com
 Gouk, Penelope, Music, Science & Natural Magic in Seventeenth-Century England, (Yale Uni Press, 1999)
 Natural Magic itself in this moment was seen as an antecedent to the ancient tradition of Priscia Theologia (Original Theology) and the belief that God had revealed the processes of nature to Adam who in turn revealed them to the “magi” - e.g. Abraham, Moses, Hermes, Orpheus, Pythagorus and so on. Gouk p.103
As a creator I have often been drawn to the concept that noted director Peter Brook (amongst many other things known for being the co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and author of the key theatre text "The Empty Space") calls "the formless hunch" - it is that feeling that doesn't go away and though it maybe as vague and un-solid as a gentle waft of perfume in the air, something of it pertains and lingers. It is like something that you cannot put your finger on, but that will not go away.
For me, one such "formless hunches" is the presence of the horse. It makes little sense as I am not, nor ever have been, a rider - yet as a child as an avid reader I loved novels with horses (I seem to remember that one was of course Black Beauty by Anna Sewell).
Living in Aberystwyth (West Wales) from 2000, I was very lucky to be close to Equilibre Horse Theatre, a company founded by Jane Lloyd-Francis alongside the dressage company, Carreg. Equilibre Horse Theatre (which sadly is no longer running) was a wonderful experimentation with actors and horses that led to a production each summer. Regular actors were colleagues such as Ian Morgan who comes with an impeccable pedigree of years in the Grotowski Workcenter, and is a long term member of the "Song of the Goat" (just this week mentioned in the Guardian guide to 10 best alternative city breaks as one of the reasons to visit Wroclaw). Directors included Centre for Performance Research's Richard Gough, and designers like Simon Banham (co-founder of Quarantine) so the work was always highly visually, physical and filled with vocal colour and intensity.
This opportunity combined with my fascination of choreographers like Trisha Brown and the whole post modern dance movement which Sally Banes outlined and marked in "Terpsichore in Sneakers" where she mapped out the important shapers (such as Judson Dance Theatre, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs, Meredith Monk, Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn and The Grand Union) and their steps to move through and beyond the restrictions of classical technique. Virtuosity for virtuosities sake was questioned and choreographers like Brown took to exploration of alternative performance spaces, and the lines between trained and un-trained movement, so that pedestrian movements such as walking or falling were equally relevant in a choreography as would be a jeté or arabesque.
In this vein, to work with horses that have an extensive movement training was completely intriguing. I began a brief collaboration in with Jane Lloyd-Francis in my site specific work "Seapiece" in 2002. In the spring of 2010, the Arts Council of Wales funded a period of research and development of a project that I called “What if? / Beth os?” so there was a chance to continue the exploration.
My idea was to investigate ideas about landscape and its representation in performance based around questions of how to make a song of a space, and how to make a portrait of a landscape.
I was returning to West Wales after a large amount of time spent in Argentina. So it was as if as well as the voice of Dylan Thomas in my head, I had added the labyrinthian words and world of Jorge Luis Borges. Thus I began this work thinking about the strange mirror that exists between Patagonia and Wales, where despite a separation of 13,000 kilometres and many years, there still persists a community of Welsh speakers. I was thinking of landscape and travel where the horse has been a key to our development.
During the working process composer Oscar Edelstein came up with the title “A Horse Bleeding Shakespeare” that perfectly captured the magical epic presence of the horse and its ability to be a macro or microcosm.
The final result of the research process that culminated in a day's filming on Ynyslas beach.
An exhibition is being planned in Buenos Aires for later in 2016 and at the end of 2016 there will be a full colour book.
It was a "formless hunch" that led to images that I had not predicted and was thanks to an incredible team of collaborators.
To be updated please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Complete set of 55 images
The images in this series of 55 are available as limited edition fine-art archival prints sized at 375 x 500 cm each limited to 15 plus 5 Artist's Proofs. All prints will be hand numbered and signed by the artist. They will be also supplied with Provenance Certificates authenticating the type of paper, date printed and number in the edition. In addition there is a PDF explaining more about the work.
As a performer, video maker and production collaborator from Cardiff, I have been working with Argentina's best kept secret, composer Oscar Edelstein (who is seen as Latin America's own Stockhausen by many people for the far fetching sweep of his musical universe) since 2003 when I gained a Wales Arts International travel grant called "Go and See." At that point being based in West Wales I travelled with fellow visual artist Angharad Taris to meet with our host, the Argentinean experimental choreographer, Siliva Pritz. The trip allowed us to visit Patagonia with all the obvious emotions of discovering your mother tongue being spoken 11,000 miles from home.
Whilst I speak only fragmented Welsh, there was something in this triangle between Welsh, English and Spanish that continued to inspire me to make further trips up until the point that I am now pretty much bi-lingual English - Spanish.
For those who know little of contemporary culture in Latin America, Edelstein is a composer with a well developed history as an artist, and an incredible ability to provoke and crystallise in equal measure. What's more - he has all the added flare needed to survive in the volatile artistic and political climate of Argentina and Latin America.
This distinguished career, in brief, lead Edelstein to being in 1992 the youngest artist to win Argentina's prestigious award of the Antorchas' Scholarship for Outstanding Artists of the Intermediate Generation (which he used to compose his opera El Telescopio), and then to more recently in 2011 the Fondo Nacional de las Artes presented him with the Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.
My collaboration with Oscar Edelstein - beginning in 2003 - has led to an exploration of vocal work that has become part of the recent concerts of one of Edelstein's projects, that of his own ensemble, the Ensamble Nacional del Sur.
I am honoured to have received critic that have compared the vocals to pinnacles of contemporary music and jazz, namely Cathy Berberian (the soprano who famously worked with the Italian composer Luciano Berio), and the free jazz vocalist Lauren Newton (known as a founding member of the Vienna Art Orchestra).
The comparisons were fascinating because my references points for the vocals that are in the live concerts and the recent disc of the ensemble, (ENS for short) were different and neither of the comparisons were sources known to me.
My line of work is far more orientated in the lines created by Grotowski that I had the chance to explore in depth after my graduation when I had the opportunity to work with Theatre Alibi in a project that took us for two weeks training in Poland with "Gardzienice" Theatre Association (founded in 1977 by Włodzimierz Staniewski). Their intensity and dedication to practice, studio work, training and exploration is second to none and no doubt marked my ear, breath and body.
Thus my vocal work emerges more from theatrical practice than from lyrical or jazz traditions. I am searching for lines as if walking a tight rope blind folded yet convinced of the rope that spans one side to another. It comes from a complete trust and intuition in the power of, and the need to communicate.
It is hard to capture the intensity of a concert of the ensemble that runs for just over an hour without pause and with changes of dynamics that are for the audience mesmerising.
This recent video of a sound check goes a long way to give the essence and it gives a snap shot of the wonderful duo I share with saxophonist Martín Proscia who is a composer and a researcher studying multi-phonics in the saxophone, alongside running his own ensemble.Video whilst now easy to share high quality images still lacks high quality sound - so this sharing is a translation that requires intelligence and sensitivity for the viewer. What cannot be heard has to be imagined and for this reason, as an artist keen to create new spaces for cultural experience, I have begun to use the format of posts to form a back up. In this line I discovered some writing around 2003 which in many ways anticipates the work I am now making in collaboration with Oscar Edelstein.
This search for bridges still intrigues and motivates me. I hope to continue to be able to extend the span and reach of this work with much respect, humility and gratitude for my many teachers.
"I look for something soft, natural, unexplained – somewhere between stillness and silence, motion and memory. I search from the “don’t know” space that is filled with echoes, reflections, and glimpses of children’s games. From the archaic English term, wright, I feel like a wheelwright, a cartwright - only my ears, eyes and hands are trained to shape and craft play. I fish in the land of paradox to catch edges, moments unseen, and words un-whisphered; to mix vulnerability with skill, and to keep things as raw and fresh as possible. I want my intuitive leaps to lead to something timeless and hypnotic– creating a space to pause and re-figure. If I could fill a bottle with anything it would be with light, more than one P.O.V., Beckett, Brecht and a little Shakespeare."
(Deborah Claire Procter - Artist's Statement 2003)
CLEAR INSIGHT PRODUCTIONS / CYNYRCHIADAU GWELEDIGAETH GLIR - founded in Wales by Deborah Claire Procter (Cardiff) to explore lines between different art-forms and to hold out the idea that art and culture bring new ways of being, doing and knowing.
Argentina's main cinema magazine reviews the double album and book of Oscar Edelstein.
Estudios Sobre La Grilla Acústica - Libro I (2014) & II (2011)
FORMAT: Book (13 x 13cm) & 2 audio CDs - ENS
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / SPANISH
TEXTS, NOTES & DRAWINGS: Oscar Edelstein
ART DIRECTION: Deborah Claire Procter
DESIGN: Deborah Claire Procter & Gisela Formoso
PRINTED IN ARGENTINA: Rolta, Buenos Aires
PUBLISHER: Patina Publisher, Amsterdam
AVAILABLE: CPR Bookshop
"With a long career as a pianist and composer, Oscar Edelstein is in our country - counting international recognition enjoyed as much as in Latin America as in Europe - almost a "cult" musician. An author difficult to define, in his works come together a surprising amalgam elements of contemporary classical music, jazz and the avant-garde progressive rock. This double album, recorded with his regular group, the Ensamble Nacional del Sur, plus the presence of several guests, is the finished sample of the aforesaid thing. With a basic formation that includes dual keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, plus the presence in various tracks the saxophonist Martin Proscia and the formidable Welsh singer Deborah Claire Procter (her voice acting as an instrument), the group offers a fascinating program which, except for in some specific case, I omit the titles of the themes due to their disproportionate length. The first disc begins with a special duo of drums and piano between Edelstein and Pablo Torterolo, a remarkable percussionist. In a couple of themes appear as invited two other great musicians, pianist Ernesto Jodos, and clarinets Marcelo Moguilevsky in clarinet (one of the many wind instruments that he interprets), and in “Fuga del Cristo Negro” (Fugue of the Black Christ), the ensemble accompanies an incredible intervention of Procter, a singer that is a sort of cross between Cathy Berberian and the free jazz vocalist Lauren Newton. But the most ambitious and complex of this “x-ray” is “La Grilla Acústica En Doce Planos” (The Acoustic Grid in 12 planes), where several instrumentalists are added in an authentic musical tour de force. The second disc, with the more established formation of the ensemble, plus Proscia and the singer, in some tracks is nearest, if it’s possible, to the academic music; and it is worth mentioning the initial solo of Edelstein; the three “Cristales Sónicos”, with great work of the keyboardist Axel Lastra and Mauro Zannoli, and the drummer (Pablo Torterolo); the notable interaction of the guitar of Leonardo Salzano with the vocalist in a track dedicated to the painter Jackson Pollock; the furious crescendo of a fugue; and the requiem of the epilogue (“Requiem Al Hombre Desde Una Mariposa / Requiem To A Man From A Butterfly ”), a poignant duo between the piano of Edelstein and Procter, dedicated to the memory of the pianist and philosopher Harold Rubens. A remarkable double disc that will be enjoyed essentially by those listeners willing to experience sounds that escape the more or less common conventions, and as a welcome bonus, comes with a book in which Edelstein explains his compositional method."
OSCAR EDELSTEIN Y EL ENSAMBLE NACIONAL DEL SUR. Estudios sobre la grilla acústica. Libros I y II. Ed. Patina Publishing, Amsterdam.
Con una dilatada carrera como pianista y compositor, Oscar Edelstein es en nuestro país – a pesar del reconocimiento internacional de que goza tanto en Latinoamérica como en Europa- casi un músico “de culto”. Autor difícilmente encuadrable, en su obra se dan cita, en sorprendente amalgama, elementos de la música académica contemporánea, el jazz de vanguardia y el rock más progresivo. Este disco doble, grabado con su formación regular, el Ensamble Nacional del Sur, más la presencia de varios invitados, es una acabada muestra de lo antedicho. Con una formación básica que incluye dobles teclados, guitarra, bajo eléctrico y batería, más la presencia en varios temas del saxofonista Martín Proscia y la formidable vocalista galesa Deborah Claire Procter (su voz actúa como un instrumento más), el grupo ofrece un fascinante programa del que, salvo algún caso puntual, omitiré los títulos de los temas por su desmesurada extensión. El primer disco comienza con un extraordinario dúo de piano y batería entre Edelstein y Pablo Torterolo, un percusionista notable. En un par de temas aparecen como invitados otros dos grandes músicos, el pianista Ernesto Jodos y Marcelo Moguilevsky en clarinete (uno de los múltiples instrumentos de vientos que interpreta) y en Fuga del Cristo negro, el Ensamble acompaña una increíble intervención de Procter, una cantante que es una suerte de cruza entre Cathy Berberian y la vocalista de free jazz Lauren Newton. Pero el tema más ambicioso y complejo de la placa es La grilla acústica en doce planos, donde se agregan varios instrumentistas en un auténtico tour de force musical. El segundo disco, con una formación más estable del Ensamble, más Proscia y la cantante, en algunos temas está más cercano, si cabe, a la música académica y corresponde destacar el solo inicial de Edelstein, los tres Cristales sónicos, con gran trabajo de los tecladista Axel Lastra y Mauro Zannoli y el baterista, la notable interacción de la guitarra de Leonardo Salzano con la vocalista en un tema dedicado al pintor Jackson Pollock, el furioso crescendo de una fuga y el Réquiem del epílogo, un conmovedor dúo entre el piano de Edelstein y Procter dedicado a la memoria del pianista y filósofo Harold Rubens. Un disco doble notable que será disfrutado esencialmente por aquellos oyentes dispuestos a experimentar sonidos que escapan a las convenciones más o menos habituales y que, como bienvenida yapa, viene acompañado de un librito en el que Edelstein explica su método compositivo.