You are on page 1of 2

Walter Branchi

w.branchi@bartoli.com

Speechlessness
(Lovers are unable to describe their love; they lack the words, they are speechless.)

I have often wondered, and still do, why the music I write sounds so different from
most other music I know. Clearly, the answer could be simply that all music sounds
different from other music; even different works by the same composer can vary in
sound and style. But this is not the answer I am looking for. The reply, I think, must
be sought elsewhere.

Dear Friend,
Your music speaks of things, while mine says nothing.
Your music speaks, and in speaking it uses words, but not real ones; it has no voice
with which to articulate words. Rather, it progresses, following a musical movement
connected to phrases or sequences of words, or better yet, to sequences of suggested
words. The rhythm of these musical shapes is like that of spoken expressions.
I will try to explain myself more clearly. In our musical history, compositions have
often resulted from linking a musical arrangement to a text, for instance, the madrigal
(in all its different historical forms). The meaning and form of the words are
suggested in the rhythm of the music.

It is well known, as in the madrigal, that the meaning of the words determines the
form of a composition. The music seeks to reproduce the poetic imagery of the text.
So, when I say that your music speaks of things, I mean exactly that: the words
define the musical flow of the composition.
The relation between meaning and form is critical to language and the spoken word
and, although this link is not inherent in the madrigal, it is still a good example of
how this relationship has been developed musically. By contrast, ‘Schiudendosi’ is
one of my compositions that ultimately says nothing: it is devoid of the musical flow
that implies the rhythm of speech or the physical act of singing or playing a musical
instrument. ‘Schiudendosi’ literally means the action of opening up (in reference to
the harmonic-geometric structure of a single sound). It is action unmediated by any
language, it is pure sound revealing itself, and in revealing itself it attempts to be
faithful to its magic.*

‘Schiudendosi’s composition relies on its sound not being perceived as separate
elements or as phrases of words to be articulated according to rules that are external
to the sound’s inherent structure. The piece is designed according to the principle of
invention, and that alone informs its structure.

music that is not self referential is just itself. The art of making music comes from the modulation of a sound according to an organizing principle that can take advantage of this magic. *All sound creates in the listener a sense of magic from the moment it starts to vibrate (Leopardi and Kant were well aware of this phenomenon). Since it does not refer to something else. only by referencing that which surrounds it.The concept of words as music brings me to another reflection. as a result. Therefore. Furthermore. this sensation does not last long if the sound is static. always referring back to something else. as they concentrate on what the piece is ‘saying’ and dismiss anything outside of the performance as a mere annoyance. and its form. this type of music draws attention solely to itself by following this logic and is. However. This music finds itself. it can be a pure event that confers value and can incorporate incidental occurrences: it flows with the moment. A word is part of a code and so. It does not impose itself and cannot be anything else because it is without words: it is speechless. to form speech these isolated elements must be linked in a sequential. (Translated from Italian by Nina Prentice and Nicole Dupré) . it is representative. On the other hand. self-descriptive. This progression then imposes on listeners a restricted sense of perception. logical chain.