MANIFESTO OF SOUNDING

The reality and music are one. Let us call this Sounding.

Sounding can be perceived as a spiral that has its origin in a creative, vibrating and vibrant human being. The spiral merges with an instrument amplifying this resonance. It expands to the space where music, along with its participants, happens, and travels onwards to the surrounding reality.

At the root of music there is a primal sound: an original scream, a sigh, a murmur. Sound is organic and physical and touching matter. It has a bodily nature with which the spirit unites.

The boundlessness of human creativity is to be cherished. A physically and mentally sound Sounder does not hide behind material or immaterial constructions. Instead, he accepts any elevated or banal impulses as equal parts of his Sounding. He is not afraid to be simultaneously weak and strong.

The Sounder and the Perceiver are equals and similarly responsible for the emerging of the collective Sounding. Both should strive to be holistically present, accepting their desiring, satisfaction and equilibrium as well as their loathing, disappointment and agitation as part of their complete selves. The members of the community shall support each other in this striving.

The ritual of artistic performance must be purified from artifice and hierarchy. We must return to an archaic, corporeal and mystical music that does not separate between high and low or mental and physical. A performance is never a goal in itself but is instead an ephemeral cross-section of an ongoing process. This process is a shared journey to a deeper understanding of a musical reality.

The instruments ordinarily used are found wanting. We must look for new sounds in unusual places. The sonic potential of the instruments already in use must be conscientiously researched and the results put to action. When constructing new instruments the emphasis shall be on individuality, not equilibrium.

Music must be rescued from the prison of equal temperament. Intonation shall be based on a corporeally experienced resonance around pure intervals.

We are to fight against the militant and hierarchical notational practises that undermine the meaning inherent in sound itself. Instead we shall aim for an ambiguous and subjective communication.

Holistic improvisation, which praises the momentary and the undefined, is the most all-inclusive and therefore the highest form of music.

Music continues to flow regardless of human effort. Sounding does not require music centres, art universities or promotional offices. Only after we cease to move and willingly give up on the illusion of being in control of the music we can hear how reality vibrates and sounds.
— Juho Laitinen, 2013
 

In November 2013 I defended my doctoral thesis Manifesto of Sounding at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, after seven years and five large-scale musical performances that make up the core of artistic research at this university. My concerts included experimental works by Andriessen, Cage, Dutilleux, Feldman, Holliger, Lucier, Rautavaara, Saariaho, Scelsi, Xenakis and many others. In my dissertation I proposed alternative ways to organize the making and listening experiences of music, in order to create a holistic, non-hierarchical and open-association-based situation of musical experience. I chose to formulate my thoughts in the form of a manifesto, which has been a tool of the avantgarde for a century-and-half. It proved to be a useful provocation mainly to myself, coaxing me to ask increasingly fundamental questions about the nature of music and it's performance practise.

Much – or perhaps all – of my current work is an extension and elaboration of the principles formulated in the manifesto,
which in its entirety can be read here:

In June 2014 I created a radiophonic setting of the manifesto for Finnish Radio. Here is the complete program: