Originally based on the parlor game Consequences, in which texts were assembled by guests without seeing (due to creative folding) what was previously written, exquisite corpse became an important source of collaboration and creative experimentation for surrealist writers and artists such as André Breton, Joan Miró, Tristan Tzara, and Marcel Duchamp. These artists used a form of the game as a way of assembling visual and textual ideas into a form that they could not have foreseen and, therefore, had very little control over. Some of the results were astounding, others less so. Every result, however, was something new.
Sound American’s version of exquisite corpse adds a few twists in keeping with our milieu and mission. Each year, three composers will collaborate on a short work specifically for SA, to be published in that year’s journals. One artist will go first, passing on a set of information to the next who, in turn, will add, subtract, and change that information to create a new version of the piece before passing it on to the third, who will create a “final” take on the composition. The readers of Sound American will get to watch the whole process as it occurs as each version will be reproduced in subsequent issues.
We’re very pleased to have inti figgis-vizueta as our third composer of this exquisite corpse. Her response to Moor Mother’s text, Black Quantum In The Moment, and Amirtha Kidambi’s response-as-game-piece, Austerity Measures is a “path towards achieving a limitless/borderless/joyous (sonic) world.”
shapes in collective space is a duet for two bowed string instruments, one tuned at A=440, the other at A=415. The score acts as a catalyst for generating sonic materials and forms through its index of various color/timbre qualities, structures visualizing transformation, and multiple possible pathways/orientations. [Start anywhere and end anywhere but explore everywhere.] Players work independently to develop sonic tendencies for distinct notational spaces and then come together to build interactivity. Give special focus to the use of open strings, repetitive and transforming bow motion, and various intonation schemes & harmonic qualities (such as voicings, intervals, and collective timbre). Converging intervals and articulations are helpful for aligned spaces, more complex sonic beating and disconnected motion for entropic, chaotic spaces—both should be extremely present in this piece, with the goal of eventually merging. Allow the different tunings to do the heavy lifting, using ringing open strings to establish sound fields from which to transform timbral and textural qualities. After becoming comfortable and familiar with the notations and index, players move towards a new orientation with the score letting it shape larger structures through its multiple perspectives and implied/imaginary architectures. Duration is variable but should sit between 5–8 minutes. Dynamic is strong, with players allowing chosen techniques/materials to speak naturally and clearly. Make clear blending decisions in spaces with mixed timbres/registrations/textures. Don’t be afraid of warmth.
I think the capacity to hold multiple truths in one space (a fundamental experience of the liminal and erased) is essential to experimental/liberatory practices. I believe bending and twisting sound & notation, or communicative structures in general, is a path towards achieving a limitless/borderless/joyous (sonic) world.
This piece works to foreground the magic of changes and transformations—especially the glimpses of coalescence, where sonic relationality is established, and voices converge and dance for moments or minutes. I hear regeneration in those moments, of cosmologies remade anew.