Bass is the crudest mass upon which all rests and from which everything originates and develops

I recognise in the deepest tones of harmony, in the bass, the lowest grades of the objectification of will, unorganised nature, the mass of the planet.

It is well known that all the high notes which are easily sounded, and die away more quickly, are produced by the vibration in their vicinity of the deep bass-notes. When, also, the low notes sound, the high notes always sound faintly, anil it is a law of harmony that only those high notes may accompany a bass-note which actually already sound along with it of themselves (its sons harmoniques) on account of its vibration.

This is analogous to the fact that the whole of the bodies and organisations of nature must be regarded as having come into existence through gradual development out of the mass of the planet; this is both their supporter and their source, and the same relation subsists between the high notes and the bass.

There is a limit of depth, below which no sound is audible. This corresponds to the fact that no matter can be perceived without form and quality, i.e., without the manifestation of a force which cannot be further explained, in which an Idea expresses itself, and, more generally, that no matter can be entirely without will.

Thus, as a certain pitch is inseparable from the note as such, so a certain grade of the manifestation of will is inseparable from matter. Bass is thus, for us, in harmony what unorganised nature, the crudest mass, upon which all rests, and from which everything originates and develops, is in the world.

The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer.

Todo resuena

«Todo resuena, apenas se rompe el equilibrio de las cosas. Los árboles y las yerbas son silenciosas; el viento las agita y resuenan. El agua está callada: el aire la mueve, y resuena; las olas mugen: algo las oprime; la cascada se precipita: le falta suelo; el lago hierve: algo lo calienta. Son mudos los metales y las piedras, pero si algo los golpea, resuenan. Así el hombre. Si habla, es que no puede contenerse; si se emociona, canta; si sufre, se lamenta. Todo lo que sale de su boca en forma de sonido se debe a una ruptura de su equilibrio.

La música nos sirve para desplegar los sentimientos comprimidos en nuestro fuero interno. Escogemos los materiales que más fácilmente resuenan y con ellos fabricamos instrumentos sonoros: metal y piedra, bambú y seda, calabazas y arcilla, piel y madera. El cielo no procede de otro modo. También él escoge aquello que más fácilmente resuena; los pájaros en la primavera; el trueno en verano; los insectos en otoño; el viento en invierno. Una tras otra, las cuatro estaciones se persiguen en una cacería que no tiene fin. Y su continuo transcurrir, ¿no es también una prueba de que el equilibrio cósmico se ha roto?

Lo mismo sucede entre los hombres; el más perfecto de los sonidos humanos es la palabra; la literatura, a su vez, es la forma más perfecta de la palabra. Y así, cuando el equilibrio se rompe, el cielo escoge entre los hombres a aquellos que son más sensibles, y los hace resonar». —Han-Yu

Chuang-tzu, Octavio Paz.

What we see is dictated by what we hear

“What we see is dictated by what we hear. You can verify this by a simple experiment. Turn off the sound track on your television set and use an arbitrary recorded sound track from your tape recorder: street sounds . . music . . conversation. . recordings of other TV programs, radio et cetera. You will find that the arbitrary sound track seems to be appropriate . . people running for a bus in Piccadilly with a sound track of machine-gun fire looks like 1917 Petrograd. You can extend the experiment by using material that is more or less appropriate to the image track. For example take a political speech on TV shut off sound track and substitute another speech you have prerecorded . . hardly tell the difference . . isn’t much . . Record the sound track of one Danger Man spy program and substitute for another . . Try it on your friends and see if they can’t tell the difference.”

The Ticket That Exploded, William S. Burroughs.

Walking about at night

“In England, walking about at night was a crime for a very long time. William the Conqueror ordained that a bell should be rung at 8 p.m., at which point Londoners were supposed to put their fires and candles out and their heads down. Again and again, until modern times, Matthew Beaumont tells us, specifically nocturnal laws were promulgated against draw-latchets, roberdsmen, barraters, roysterers, roarers, harlots and other nefarious nightwalkers — including those ‘eavesdroppers’ who stood listening in the close darkness where the rain dripped from a house’s eaves.

Beaumont reads such laws as being designed to exert political and social control. To walk the city streets at night, by contrast, is to make ‘a libertine assault on what might be called the ideology of good hours’, to pose ‘an intrinsic challenge to the diurnal regime on which, from the end of the Middle Ages, Protestant ideology and the political economy of capitalism partly depended’. Nightwalking is sticking it to the Man.”

Dickens’s dark side: walking at night helped ease his conscience at killing off characters, The Spectator.

Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London by Matthew Beaumont.

Splice in your body sounds with the body sounds of your best friend and see how familiar he gets

“The realization that something as familiar to you as the movements of your intestines the sound of your breathing the beating of your heart is also alien and hostile does make one feel a bit insecure at first. Remember that you can separate yourself from the ‘Other Half’ from the word. The word is spliced in with the sound of your intestines and breathing with the beating of your heart. The first step is to record the sounds of your body and start splicing them in yourself. Splice in your body sounds with the body sounds of your best friend and see how familiar he gets. Splice your body sounds in with air hammers. Blast jolt vibrate the ‘Other Half’ right out into the street. Splice your body sounds in with anybody or anything. Start a tapeworm club and exchange body sound tapes. Feel right out into your neighbor’s intestines and help him digest his food. Communication must become total and conscious before we can stop it.

The Ticket That Exploded, William S. Burroughs.

A tentative shape flickering in and out of focus to the sound track

“On a stone table was a tape recorder – The monk switched on the recorder and sounds of lovemaking filled the room … He danced around the table caressing a shadowy figure out of the air above the recorder – A tentative shape flickering in and out of focus to the sound track – The figure floated free of the recorder and followed the monk to a pallet on the floor … the monk twisted through a parody of lovemaking as the tape speeded up: ‘Oh darling i love you oh oh deeper oh oh fuck the shit out of me oh darling do it again’ … His bones were shaking, vibrated to neon

All the tunes and sound effects of ‘Love’ spit from the recorder permutating sex whine of a sick picture planet: Do you love me?”

The Ticket That Exploded, William S. Burroughs.

Could someone else do it in my place?

“Thoreau wrote in a letter that when considering a course of action, one should ask: ‘Could someone else do it in my place?’ If the answer is yes, abandon the idea, unless it is absolutely essential. But it is still not bound up in the inevitable part of life. Living, in the deepest sense, is something no one else can do for us. You can be replaced at work, but not for walking. That’s the great difference.”

A Philosophy of Walking, Frederic Gros.

There is no such thing as forgetting

“Of this at least I feel assured, that there is no such thing as forgetting possible to the mind; a thousand accidents may and will interpose a veil between our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind; accidents of the same sort will also rend away this veil; but alike, whether veiled or unveiled, the inscription remains for ever, just as the stars seem to withdraw before the common light of day, whereas in fact we all know that it is the light which is drawn over them as a veil, and that they are waiting to be revealed when the obscuring daylight shall have withdrawn.”

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey.

To construct out of the raw material of organic sound an elaborate intellectual pleasure

“For music is an intellectual or a sensual pleasure according to the temperament of him who hears it. And, by-the-bye, with the exception of the fine extravaganza on that subject in Twelfth Night, I do not recollect more than one thing said adequately on the subject of music in all literature; it is a passage in the Religio Medici of Sir T. Brown, and though chiefly remarkable for its sublimity, has also a philosophic value, inasmuch as it points to the true theory of musical effects. The mistake of most people is to suppose that it is by the ear they communicate with music, and therefore that they are purely passive to its effects. But this is not so; it is by the reaction of the mind upon the notices of the ear (the matter coming by the senses, the form from the mind) that the pleasure is constructed, and therefore it is that people of equally good ear differ so much in this point from one another. Now, opium, by greatly increasing the activity of the mind, generally increases, of necessity, that particular mode of its activity by which we are able to construct out of the raw material of organic sound an elaborate intellectual pleasure. But, says a friend, a succession of musical sounds is to me like a collection of Arabic characters; I can attach no ideas to them. Ideas! my good sir? There is no occasion for them; all that class of ideas which can be available in such a case has a language of representative feelings. But this is a subject foreign to my present purposes; it is sufficient to say that a chorus, &c., of elaborate harmony displayed before me, as in a piece of arras work, the whole of my past life—not as if recalled by an act of memory, but as if present and incarnated in the music; no longer painful to dwell upon; but the detail of its incidents removed or blended in some hazy abstraction, and its passions exalted, spiritualized, and sublimed. All this was to be had for five shillings. And over and above the music of the stage and the orchestra, I had all around me, in the intervals of the performance, the music of the Italian language talked by Italian women—for the gallery was usually crowded with Italians—and I listened with a pleasure such as that with which Weld the traveller lay and listened, in Canada, to the sweet laughter of Indian women; for the less you understand of a language, the more sensible you are to the melody or harshness of its sounds. For such a purpose, therefore, it was an advantage to me that I was a poor Italian scholar, reading it but little, and not speaking it at all, nor understanding a tenth part of what I heard spoken.


Yet, in candour, I will admit that markets and theatres are not the appropriate haunts of the opium-eater when in the divinest state incident to his enjoyment. In that state, crowds become an oppression to him; music even, too sensual and gross. He naturally seeks solitude and silence, as indispensable conditions of those trances, or profoundest reveries, which are the crown and consummation of what opium can do for human nature.”

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey.