A Word from the Composer
Dmitry Kurlyandsky | 2013

The music for The Constant Principle is a living organism, an extension of our essences, an acoustic projection of our bodies. This organism was born of breath. We began with long listening sessions in which we listened to our own breathing. We sought to hear in the smooth surface of a long warm exhalation some random, natural change, an event – a short wheeze, gasp, or whistle. This might be caused by the accidental strain of vocal chords, or some internal shift in the body. After identifying an event of this kind, we exhaled again and focused on what we heard – we built in as a rule what apparently began as an accident. In turn, listening to this new sonic surface, we sought to distinguish in it other irregularities that would allow us to enter another new stage. Step by step, our listening to our breathing led us to complex sounds, sometimes similar to asthmatic wheezes and whistles, sometimes to guttural gasps. Regardless of how we advanced, we arrived at the full-fledged employment of our vocal chords, and to the appearance of a voice. And a voice, of course, is the territory of text. The music of The Constant Principle resides in the territory that precedes the birth of the voice, a territory that lies beyond text. There are several segments in the performance where the sensation of a borderline separating text from sound is especially acute. These are places where the text emerges as sound, decomposing into articulation, transforming into mooing or silence... Exhalation is the friction of air against the walls of the larynx. Exhalation is consonant with friction, with the friction of the palm on a smooth surface, the living on the dead – the living skin of the palm on the dead membrane of the drum surface. The notion of friction led to the formation of a drum orchestra. We conducted similar experiments with drums, listening to the rustles and groans that arise when the drum membrane is rubbed.

In addition to voices and drums, we use "singing hoses" that serve as filters converting breathing into sound, and "singing glasses" that develop the idea of producing sound by friction.

Thus did we arrive at the sounds of The Constant Principle. We did not take ready sounds, did not use ready-made forms – we gave birth to our own. We found sound in ourselves. Actors do not produce sounds, nor do they perform them – they simply are sounds themselves.

Having participated in a series of intense listening sessions (we conducted such sessions regularly for an entire year), the musicians began to orient themselves freely within the new sound. They mastered its nature. We acquired the ability to switch freely among different layers of sound, bypassing transitional stages. Thus did we arrive at the sonic material of the play. This material is mobile and flexible – it is not just sound, but is also knowledge about sound. Rather like the Solarian ocean, the matter of our sound is able to thicken or thin, to acquire clear distinct outlines or dissolve into the space of the hall, to react to what is happening in the text or action, and to create distance from the action.

Moreover, this ocean is capable of absorbing or appropriating any ready-made sound forms and models. The performance employs much borrowed material – songs (including those composed by actors), arias, and dances from different eras and cultures. This material was brought to the project by the actors themselves. It is organic to their vision of the text. It is organic to their individual natures. I set myself the task not to suppress, but to embrace these individual forms, and try to create for them an environment in which they would be perceived organically. All these ready-made forms do not contradict the main material, but are one of the possible embodiments of the primary sound matter. Of course, such work is possible only when the authors and participants of the performance share absolute mutual trust. Such trust is precisely what gave birth to The Constant Principle.