Within the Limits

December 18.2018

Initiator: Daniela Fantechi

“In 1964 Morton Feldman wrote a work called The King of Denmark. It’s for one musician playing a battery of percussion instruments. In the early Sixties composers discovered that noisy, non-pitched instruments, such as cymbals, gongs, pieces of wood, anything that makes noise, could constitute a fruitful and exciting sound palette to explore. There were a whole slew of solo percussion pieces. Usually they were written for everything but the kitchen sink. (Sometime the kitchen sink, too.) The more sounds the better. […] But in The King of Denmark Morton Feldman, lo and behold, asked the player to play with his fingertips, hands, and any part of the arm. You can’t make a lot of noise by hitting the cymbal with your fingertips.” (Alvin Lucier — Music 109)

Referring to Feldman's piece, Alvin Lucier suggests as a distinctive quality the skill of composers to limit themselves and to make choices, instead of surrendering to the overwhelming possibilities offered by the continuous development of different techniques within contemporary music. But what are these choices about? How do composers get an understanding and select their own material? How do they exploit it?

The main purpose of this seminar is to investigate from different perspectives the relationships between limits and the creative process. Setting some limits often means circumscribing an area of investigation, focusing on smaller issues, in order to give them more consideration. The adoption of limits and restrictions can help to frame specific features and to shift attention to different details, to look for hidden connections.

During the seminar “Within the Limits”, four artists and researchers will present some examples from their own practice and from the contemporary music scene, reflecting on the ability to build relationships and interdependences within the processes of exploration of specifically framed material.

(photo: Contra vent i fusta)

Contributions by:

  • Daniela Fantechi
  • Myriam Garcia Fidalgo
  • Davide Gagliardi
  • Luc Döbereiner
  • ...


14:00  “Instrumental sound matter inscribed in instrumental sound gestures. A compositional approach through the limits and the possibilities of piezo-electric microphones”, presentation by Daniela Fantechi
14:45  “Materialities of Sound ”, presentation by Luc Döbereiner
15:30  Break
16:00  “Approaches on cello technique and tradition since 1969”, presentation by Myriam García Fidalgo
16:45  “The role of the sound sources”, presentation by Davide Gagliardi

Venue: Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, Witte Zaal, 14:00