Concerning Whale Languages
This acousto-electronic Symphony concerning whale languages makes use of hybrid technologies, using mostly sampled sound in coordination with pure synthesis and electronic modulations. The sampled sounds are of musical instruments: violin, viola, cello, contrabass, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, piano, vibraphone, harp, and percussion, among which are timpani. These have been changed and modulated to alter their pitch, their sound, and in the case of longer samples, their phrasing.
No samples of whale and dolphin sounds were used at all. In other words, the composer tried to “speak whale”, to “speak dolphin”, using human means, human musical instruments, and contemporary musical technology.
The time scale of the work is large, leaning more towards the time scale of a whale song than that of a classical symphony. This music requires patience and an attention span well beyond that conditioned into us by our social media apps so popular in our mobile phones. Almost a sound movie, best listened to in stereo and in a quiet environment, preferably your own living room. A few decades ago our living rooms had stereo systems at their core, giving more meaning to the time spent listening to music, putting a work into a personal context. In the 21st century music listening has developed into something which is done while on the road, walking, moving, running, travelling. Most music is listened to on headphones or earplugs, turning it into a solitary experience, quite the opposite of a traditional concert setting, and also of a concentrated listening session at home.
Tate gallery researched that visitors of an exhibition spend on average 8 seconds on an artwork; today’s concert audiences’ attention span is longer in certain genres, but also similar in others, as for example the average serious music work commissioned is generally between only 6-12 minutes of duration. van Dillen’s works mostly break with this practice of fast art, as they venture into the difficult territory of very long durations, traditionally more often still encountered in non-European music.
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