dragonflies draw flame


Ernesto Rodrigues / Giulherme Rodrigues / Eva-Maria Houben
the haecceity of things  (Creative Sources)

…myself it
speaks and spells,
Crying what I do is me-for that
I came.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame

This is music in which you’re cast into an open sea- orientation and hand-holds come gradually, and then only to the alert and intuitive. This is music that doesn’t contrive to mystify, but presents the secret, singular nature of its sounds; in this way, the music is so transparent, so self-enacting, as to initially seem slight, even unsubstantial. Enter and re-enter the environment of the piece and you regain and retool your senses and begin to perceive what’s on offer. The basic ground of the work owns an affinity with the spirit of some of the Wandelweiser composers- Manfred Werder chiefly-and in fact was co-composed by one of the collective’s preeminent members, Eva-Marie Houben.
The Rodrigues’, père et fils, in collaboration with Ms. Houben, create environments to be inhabited; we, the listeners, are the creatures who feel quickened or startled or seduced. We’re invited to grasp the sounds, their flavor, their affect, their micro-pulses and heartbeats, their small power.

Rodrigues and Houben’s sound world doesn’t simply invite the listener’s participation and loosed imagination, it necessitates it. Its intermittent gusts of airy organ tones, fragile, scraped strings, micro-harmonies and waxing and waning cricket songs come to us in billows and soft choirs of pure sentience.

The 13th century philosopher Duns Scotus posited the idea of the haecceity of all things, a word meaning, simply, thisness. Haecceity insists everything owns an essence of its own that makes it what it is. The poet Hopkins embraced Scotus’ principle in his lines of verse; his word was inscape. Inscapes are the true nature of a thing, always dynamic, never static, always moving in and out of relation to the thisness of others. Such as we hear in the music of Houben and Rodrigues.

The haecceity of the sounds exist for the listener to assemble, connect, puzzle over. The haecceity of things offers no meaning-rather, it speaks and spells, cries and dissipates. Thisness in sound, the startlingly clear this, not-that quality, was expressed beautifully by composer Jürg Frey in a recent interview: “I treat my pitches and music carefully, with respect, and let them have their say. I have the idea they talk to me.”

Face it, we are dulled and deadened by the world’s relentless, intrusive noise. In psychic self-defense we filter and blinker our senses, making the approach to this music a gradual, layered one.
Dragonflies, wings in the sun, draw flame. Ernesto, Giulherme and Eva-Maria play.  A music that restores the listener’s attunement to the haecceity of things is an act of generosity.

Liner notes for the December release of the haecceity of things on Creative Sources
Calligraphy: nyo (suchness, things-as-they-are)


It is an old dream of mine that the nature of sounds is discovered and that they are not used in order to express something else.
–Hans Otte


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