Miklós Dolinszky interviews László Hortobágyi (April 2003)
Hungarian musician and musicologist László Hortobágyi was born in 1950 in Budapest, where he still resides today. An explorer and scholar of music and sounds from all over the world, he first visited North India in 1967 in order to learn instruments such as the rudra-vina, sitar, surbahar and the tabla, but also to record music and delve into Indian philosophy. In 1981 he founded the Gáyan Uttejak Society, an imaginary musical organisation which functioned at the same time as a studio and an archive of his discoveries in ethno-musicology. A keen innovator in the technological arena as well (devising his own sound processing software and using computers in music as early as 1988), he frequently combines instruments and musical structures from the past and future, East and West in order to create the lush, exotic soundscapes of the worlds and cultures he brings to life in each of his pieces.
László Hortobágyi has generously allowed us to include his work in the UMCSEET project, and over the coming weeks we will be publishing some highlights of his extensive catalogue, as well as interviews and essays by the artist. Below, you can read an interview conducted by Miklós Dolinszky in 2003 that touches on themes of ethno-musical history, the impact of technology on society and music, among others. You can also find out more about the artist and his Gáyan Uttejak Orchestra (Guo) in his site by clicking here.
An interview by Miklós Dolinszky with László Hortobágyi (April 2003).
Originally included in “Miklós Dolinszky: Timequake – Nine Musicians, Ten Confessions”
(Osiris Publishing House, Budapest 2004)
László Hortobágyi playing the sitar
LH: Let’s listen to the Great Fugue. It is almost the same, like 5 liters of blood flowing down the toilet, as opposed to having a latent demand on activity after a concert of Baroque music, or just let me express myself in a contemporary way: filled with implanted positive energies of musical collectivity and „standard language”. Of course, the Great Fugue is a danse macabre and a keystone in the European music’s cathedral. This world is not the world of Original Creation any more, but the smashed shape of it, that’s why destruction and art of it are the most beautiful here.
This kind of art is the art of anatomy and artificially conditioned mal-consciousness of human race, that will, in our days, offer a rich selection of materialized consciousness-mutations of the culture monsters of alienation. For me, the reason for collecting the musical monsters and any other things being apparently horrible, is not fatalism, but the wish to understand them, and to see and display the expedient alternatives through them. In the course of the uninhabitable human societies, it so happened that the human talent and versatility would be mapped mostly here – just take a little look at Alhambra’s collection of instruments of torture or NORAD’s navigation softwares – just their authors had happened to be born in a world where their talent would – nota bene to the present day – accomplish itself in that way.
About the turn of the 2nd millenium, this structure, that I used to have nicknamed ‘apo-capitalism’, will arrive at the consumer biomass, unified on the surface of our planet, that is similar to classic Hindu caste-system, being extremely closed mono-cultured and moving on a forced path, these are the mucous mega-city-colonies of humanoids. In this, however, interesting world, the established types of property and the possibilities of social movement articulated by them, produce limited castes and personalities impoverished into limited metabolism, along with their taste, that will consume/destroy the culture and the good things in life.
The Great Fugue, where the parts as glory of the past still have a meaning, will project the vertigo universality of scales of Schönberg–reihe, that are being equivalent to each other and interchangeable with each other, that is the industry standard of music or kanban-lego universality, one might say as well.
Well, then the ‘white man’-s world would arrive at the materialized ethos of a principle that till then had been hidden and existing for centuries in the deep of universal order, and that would make the “underlying meaning and behavior” of human activities obvious, namely the logic of an ancient-new paradigm in the rhyming waves of history’s 200 year long Kondratiev cycles. That is to say, the principle and practice, according to which the prefabricated components would go in by this door and the car go out by that door or the people would go in by that gate and bales of soap and hair roll out by that gate – that is the reihe, are the precipitation of the same “idea” that will alienate the planetary-individual consciousness created by human being, by this tiny contaminator of the Galaxy. I would apologize for trying to express myself in a form of yapping like this. In this world the music seems to be the sweet poison of mankind, at the same time it can be considered as a litmus paper, that is more sensitive to awareness of the society’s life, than any other art or science.
MD: You says in an interview on Your web site, that in our days there are only some mutants at most, who will still listen to Beethoven. Well then, I know Beethoven more or less, but who are those mutants?
LH: For example, you or me. Let me get to the bottom of the responsibility of musicologists: why do we make ways for swindlers to speak about important issues? Why doesn’t the high musicology deal with things that are substantial in music? It was Stockhausen, who already predicted a world-music process in the 50ies, but certainly with another ending, and in 1949 Cage wrote the Interludes that had in fact a Gamelan structure and tonality. In our days, there is not a single serious intuitive or even theoretical approach, namely an extrapolational theoretical approach, based on the world concept of a valid cultural language.
Adorno would easily starve to death.
It’s true, that today even the materialized world music has become a stinking corpse, where the Kenyan mourners will be mixed by Albanian goat-herds, accompanying them on Fairlights, into Vedantic meditation or goa-trance party composition. Today, behind the so called youth counter-cultures that have been started during the 60ies, you can find a global universal expansive roadroller-culture, that will force all the existing traditional languages and particularities down, and that has already eliminated successfully, making it disappear, the many-colored experimenting subcultures of the rebellious underground and avant-garde.
You could realize one of the symptomatic enormities of the materialized world music even in its initial aspects: it crammed everything, from the most complex 18-interval Persian or 22-interval Indian way of octave division to the polyrhythms of the Far-East, into the infinitely pitiful four-four, “A-A-B-A-B-A” compositional form of ‘white man’-s new music. Today, it doesn’t matter, whether there is Gamelan or Persian music, or an Andean sicu playing on top of the grooves: all the traditional musics are eroded into synthesized or sampled timbres. Meanwhile, there had been about twenty Baroque orchestras and besides them also six mixed skinned Gamelan orchestras working actively in the Netherlands. For today, all the Gamelan orchestras have died out, and there are only two of the Baroque orchestras that are still active. Certainly, here you can also see mutants performing for mutants.
For example, in America of the seventies, there was an orchestra on the West Coast called the “Gamelan Son of Lion”, and after the banjar orchestras had all disappeared, they reconstructed the original tunings using the computers of UCLA Ethnomusicology Department, then rebuilt the original Gamelan instruments and composed new compositions for them. Oddly enough, but some of them are quite listenable.
LH: This kind of ingenuity of ‘white man’ is exactly the same like New-Age or any new-religio. And while the bali musician, coming from an original village community, is murdering his Hawaii guitar in the Sheraton hotel with the horrible “My Way”, the computers at Stanford University will briskly analyze the rendering of mouldered orchestras. So far as they are able to, though they are convinced of it. It’s true, that they have tried it at least, and thus the dreary truth is going to be realized: the only parts of a culture will be able to live on, that the ‘white man’ can understand of it. But certainly, it is precious little. Many of the well-intentioned groupings of that era managed to compose very remarkable pieces, but these compositions were also transformed into inclusions – some cultural „pods” – like the quasi-cultural carpet of repetition, that proved to be a musical language, the last quasi-cultural carpet and aurora borealis of “serious” music, for many years.
Certainly, it also became clear for many, that the basic structures of repetition – copyright by Terry Riley or Steve Reich – had practically colonized the Indian-African polyrhythmic way of thinking into a reinterpreted and stupefied reincarnation. In my opinion, the last and similar quasi idiomatic product of light music was the live concert of Tangerine Dream’s Ricochet in Notre-Dame. It was a never exceeded cohesion between the rational European musical traditions and the psychedelic exodus of the youth, where the fugueish repetitive structure of the Teuton-conceived electronic musical language would meet the ecstatic but in this case still sophisticated scream of youth. But it was already observable, that the „injury” of the world had already started to break through these sounds very much, that means, the performer-composers would begin to apprehend the already existing global intellectual and social poverty, and the anomalies of future prospects that were firing and fuelling, and would fuel, this whole death agony of youth.
Thus, the initial positive, pure and orthodox electronic musical approach, though messed up with some Oriental humbugs, has stupidly and incredibly reduced itself on four-fours and loops that are stupefying in themselves, where similarly to inhaling glue, the only catharsis is the acoustic massaging of kidneys. Musical mapping and consuming of social brutality, to the proletarian mp3 inclusive, is going deeper and deeper. In case of Tangerine Dream, the cost of the equipment, besides the musical knowledge, is about 10-15.000.000 Marks, and today, in the DJ culture, you can actually hit the same target with a 75.000 HUF turntable. But it’s true, that the endless waves of DJs will ruminate here the thousandth reincarnation of the many times sold out compositional forms over and over.
MD: What kind of influence does the development of technical equipment exercise over the fashion of listening music?
LH: Today, the “bel esprit” target audience will only listen to and buy those compositions of the classical mainstream, for a while (obviously until the totalitarian domination of semiconductor storage devices), that are performed with original instruments or according to an imaginary archaized contemporary kind of interpretation. Who knows, for example, the irregular masses composed by Tinctoris, a fifth lower, according to cantus firmus? Although, recently the complete Ockeghem’s edition has been published, that we can consider a success, but it has to be attributed to the fact, that the old hippie generation will represent a last consumer push for the former owners of master-rights, who are inclined to think that it is worth reprinting on CD all the records made during the 60ies and 70ies. There is not a real possibility for new records anymore, new orchestras and new interpretations, and if anybody can remember the series of EMI Electrola, Reflex “Studio der Frühen Musik”, he/she will see obviously the ethos of our age: there is not a real possibility to publish J. Tinctoris or Jan Obrecht on DVD or in post DTS-8 formats, Herbert von Karajan is optional, unfortunately multioptional.
But, let us be a bit more courageous and think further, on the basis of modern technology there could be opened a tiny hole on the dark sky of music history, that might result in performers with instruments and plasmascreens, controlling realtime real and virtual instruments and electronic modules on stage using a lightpen. It would be the first real incartanion of the long desired “live-electronics”: a stage, three large displays, standard instruments, fast computers and – horribile dictu – I can imagine even MIDI controlled acoustic instruments being at hand. The technology would enable, for the first time, the real live-electronics, ecstasy and music to be born there and then collectively, and feedbacked to the audience. Certainly, all that would demand an underlying collective musical identity and a musical standard language, through the subsocial (tribal consciousness) codedness of which the participants might reach the same phase. Here, we would face not the private mythological bushfighting of the imaginary inner freedom of an uninhabitable world, that everybody desires to leave, or certainly supposed to be reached by the music, but a practice of music could be realized, instead, that recalls the everydays of Baroque music. Obviously, this idea will share the fortune of samplers: when a fantastic technical device appears, by making use of which an opening can be cut towards the future and the hoped liberation of fantasy, and imagination limiting hegemony of factories on timbres and equipment can be broken through as well, then it turns out that there is nothing to be said yet. We can establish that new, but in our days merely virtual, cultures are only going to be born, when each of the participating elements, and we are speaking about musical elements now, could manage to be built into a similar one within its own authentic method and cultural substance, and emphasizedly within the most genuine authenticity of its language and tone theory system. Only then, a new quality might appear, that will, interestingly, work efficiently. There are common human poverty and experience hiding (also) behind the music of high cultures, that will exceed beyond the arts and sciences, exceed far beyond the people, behind the people, into that horrifying hell, where it used to live and where it has come from. Here, the common root of cultures, spanning space and time, is nothing else but a millennial distillation of human misery, that connects, like the thread of Ariadne, the apparently unknown-known inhabited worlds and the common and thousand years old art-technique of escaping from it, where, from the monophonic drum language of the Ga tribe to the hundred-register organ built by the French organ builder master, Cavaille Coll, the underlying content is the same. Whether it is a tempered method or a 22-interval Indian scale, that is only the cultural anthropological packaging. By the time, the technology, through the creation of a new reality, enables the redemption of the world, the fuel tanks of the theories building up the new reality will become empty, and the experiences of the traditional cultures and lifestyles will have died off long ago.
MD: It is really shocking, that you say. Till now, I have been in the belief that our problem is, in fact, that we preserve everything. I mean, we are able only to preserve. That the overgrowth of preserving techniques will bring us the last hour of the culture, because the techniques will not allow us to put the burden of our future down. On the other hand you insist on that classical music cannot be continued by means of the latest sound technology.
LH: Well, it would be really interesting to listen to Clemens Non Papa or Tinctoris on eight channels. The problem is that all the shaggy small labels are being eaten up by the majors, who will, in our days, only buy the masters, but won’t publish them, they are waiting for the new medium, but there is no global new medium. As opposed to the VHS-JVC compromise (this standard is of course the worst one, just let the proletarians strain their eyes, it is cheap and widespread), the standards of DVD-audio, although there are two of them, haven’t worked out till today, as yet. And if there is something that can’t be sold in several hundred thousands of pieces, nobody will publish it. But, besides the lack of a new medium, the variety of real and manipulated demands is also missing. The mediums are expensive. The manufacturing cost of a CD is about a couple of dozens of cents, but in the shop you have to pay about six thousand Forints for it. It means that nobody will buy it, instead they will copy it worldwide. The golden age of CD has expired approximately three years ago. Everything was sold out, what they could, but no new, progressive or even a reinterpreted Beethoven recording were published any more, I mean, not anymore on CD and still not on DVD. Certainly, I am speaking about new audio recordings and not video recordings of the concerts.
As regards the question, here we can see two interesting contexts: if a musicologist coming from the Tau Ceti looks over the recent and current repertoires of the academy of music, and besides that the ones of the performers, he/she will arrive at the inevitable conclusion, that before J. S. Bach there has not lived a single composer and existed a single music on this planet.
And here, let’s beneficially take no notice of composers of big South-Indian church orchestras that have declined till around the turn of the century, or Japanese gagaku composers, who have been also eluded by the square beam of high musicology. Thus, the musical harvest of Romanticism became part or the current musical high culture, but this kind of zombistic musical culture was far not suitable for cathartic modeling of reality. Here, seen from the side of quality of music, it is very informative and it is worth comparing the innate rhythmic performance of an Afghan sarod player with ergonomical-mimicking choreography of a contemporary or even classical piano piece, or comparing the sound collection of an acid-goa party with the homogeneity of the orchestral sounding, where, otherwise, in parallel with the emptying of the content the packaging is becoming more and more important, see the symphonies of Mahler.
The structure of classical European music and the abilities of its composers are outstanding, but constitute a precious cultural inclusion of minority, which has taken possession of a language, that is fulfilling the development and self-determining, and that is impossible to be influenced by modern technology, though many have attempted it. By the time it became possible, for example, to orchestrate in real time the partleading of Palestrina’s type with the help of a Synclavier, that has, by the way, become bankrupted since then, namely, to render the structure of a tradition, being well known but not living any more, into a new music, nobody would ever think of that. Obviously, it is not accidental that I am speaking exactly of this forced path in general.
Of course, there always will be five people, who are using the available but not military-purpose technology for the very purpose it serves. One thing remains certain, that these everyday or musical technologies (otherwise, the products of computer technology developments, after the military applications and after becoming out of date, will appear here at first) are not for us. It is suitable for a rate of profit to be imposed, that is necessarily sufficient to make the world of our days work, and it is artistically planned by the talent of anonymous engineers until the lower limit of usability. See Windows etc., that is zilch in its entirety. Here you can see another well known specialty of our age: the designers of the menstruating Barbie doll will appear in the media as real everlasting artists, but who knows the construction engineers of the Hubble telescope?
Today, a big company will manufacture a product with the same awareness, with which the cathedrals have been built up earlier, and when a corporation scents the possibility, the most terrible nightmares of the futurologists will come true immediately.
By the way, the onboard computers of F-16, manufactured already in the 80ies in Korea on license, were able to calculate the possible spatial coordinates of impact of three heat missiles, while controlling the supersonic autopilot, that means a difficult topologic extrapolation, and at the same time they were communicating with the satellite of the relevant eighth earth segment, in order to load the local topographical details into the computer’s CPU. Well, in those days we were experiencing the “blessings” of Sinclair and Commodore 16 computers, with 64K memory capacity.
Certainly, the quality costs a lot, and starting from here the whole action radius is sociologically determined, because only those will buy it who can afford it, and those who can afford it, will never care. And finally, we are back to the five mutants that are using the technology to listen to Ockeghem. But then, the snake bites its own tail, because this kind of a new reality can be defeated only through techniques created by that new reality.
An artist will, or should, apply technology to reconstruct the reality. The human being is able to rebuild the universe, but lives in a collective cul-de-sac, where his/her thoughts will be moving along an inherited track, and when the winds of history is driving all the masterminds into a huge western stable, then the scientists and artists will stoop to be swines of the big companies and the military blocks, and hereby it is decided what kind of future these minds and the products of their science-arts will create.
As the platitude says, “we are living in the age of computer technology”, but I have never seen any government in the world, whose social governing or parliamentary processes would be supported by a computer controlled decision making software. The only exception was Stafford Beer and the Cybersyn experiment in Chile. Certainly this project was feasible only in 1970, but since then the corporations’ ranks would close. A well written program supported by sociological inputs could impartially consider the economic, social and cultural conditions of a given country. In any case, more effectively than the representative who will say a stupid sentence from his/her papers. There are a lot of extremely smart and clever military, gaming and listening programs in existence (e.g. the obsolete Echelon or the new Lacrosse system), but nobody knows one that would make proposals, based on real sociological data, on abortion law, tax regulations, revaccination or hormone preparations etc., for a fat-headed committee. Instead, what remains is the all-destroying parliamentary cretenism and the dirty morals.
Although, through the utilization of Internet, there would be possible to reconsider the civic participation within the collective structure. Here, the real wish of society could manifest itself in seconds. I would predict for sure: for a while, the Internet suppliers are not going to install new servers for the sake of that kind of solutions. In this resounding world of computer technology, only the most important locations are not supplied with computers. I must repeat it: the society and culture of the world are moving in a path they have been forced to take. There is no word of divine punishment or predestination, our situation is shaping up according to the most prosaic physical parameters. Since there is not a single place where the current governmental and global decision making is going to rely on the reality, and there is only the rule of collective mal-consciousness in existence, so some certain lateral shiftings of the society are a matter of mere chance. Thus, it is not the human intelligence that builds up the civilization, but the chances and disasters are drifting us towards an irrational future.
To avoid any misunderstandings, this is not pessimism, but the actual and inescapable direction of the development of human societies.
MD: In our days, does the technology have a language or community forming power?
LH: Absolutely! If we think of the network communities downloading pornography or games, then the answer is “yes”. But the answer is also positive, if in a helmet having the fancy name of “Virtual Graal Helmet” we think of swapping via Internet the impulse samples of frequencies locating a “brain synthesizer”, i.e. the brain’s theta waves through a software, then synchronizing them with a machine and using as a music, or examine the web sites of different terrorist, pedophile or religious organizations.
At the same time, we have to use our Moebius-mind: obviously, the usage of the technology is based on the unconscious priorities of a collective structure, and it is a feedback that will restrict its usage: a software technology that would model the structure of Viking or Javanese village communities or the score of an 80-member church orchestra of the Guptan age still doesn’t exist.
On the other hand, just for the sake of making some jovial remarks, there might as well exist some indivirtual satellite channels, the encoded programs of which could be enjoyed in so called personal tubs (“Personal Grave”), in hot water with salt solution and a respiratory mask, an intravenous infusion, that would be the “sleg”. The VirtuAlien helmet programs, i.e. VideoDrams that can be clicked into the slot implanted behind the ears, will make a still unpredictable quantity of experience to be sold out in the form of sampled and digitalized stories.
E.g. series of masterpieces, entitled “The Corpse Eating Germ”, “Chermophag Games” and “Alien’s G-point”. Here you are some fictive softwares: “Compaq de Sade”, “The Little Inquisitor”, “I, Himmler”, “Cocalia”, “Softnirvana”, “Hybernaculum”, “Cyborgia’sm”, etc. The hackers, who had really ingeniously hacked Pentagon secret web sites, only were able to afford to write there: “Lick my arse!”, instead of downloading all the secret information and sending up to a satellite, so that anybody can access it. During this early stage of the Net’s development, the last spots of freedom seemed to survive for a moment in the hacker’s tiny “pods”, but that was all that the cyber knight-errants could do.
Thus, the question is, just to come to the point, whether the ability and creative power, expressed during the evolution into man in the limitless creation of posthuman kingdom comes and techniques, is a part of the hominid natural history or basic program, or is one of the possible manifestations of the original mal-consciousness of the human race. Is it worth at all meditating on whether the mal-consciousness is inevitable, and is there any need for artificial mal-consciousness? It is described fantastically by the Old Egyptian winged spirit (ka), that will, still not in a form of a Christian dove, leave the body, the early representation of the soul’s alienation, or the spiritual praxis of the Tibetan monk, being locked up in a dark cell for years, and who, during the final stage of his initiation, will materialize his or his chosen god’s earthly counterpart in a form, that is perceivable for others.
MD: Yes, but the possibility of a certain total control also lies in that kind of application, and not particularly secretly, as the example of Echelon illustrates. On the other hand, if I am not mistaken, the “live-electronics” would serve as a means to reconcile and surmount the technology and the community.
LH: A lot of very interesting things are happening, but still not in a controlled way. The real face and distorted way of thinking of the science are reflected in the arts that are seemingly not connected with it, since its musical mapping, that is on the same intellectual level, would be an exceedingly complex and complicated polyphonic and polyrhythmic system. Instead, what you can hear: noise-music, senseless beating with the four-four till the end of time, rattling goa-loops that is hurling the reality into your face. In our days, it is quite bewildering, how the plebeian human’s consciousness will sublimate this horrible tangible world: it creates pleasure-palaces and fantastic edifices, well, not in the reality, of course, but virtually. And the reason why music is the most specific among all the culture creating virtual worlds, because it is an existing physical kingdom come. In parallel with the technical development, we are becoming owners of almost limitless possibilities, where anybody can create any sound in any kind of quality. Of course, the usage of computers and softwares are crucially influenced by how stupid is their owner, but the youth receives a magic-pencil now. Inside the computers, a kind of workstation is going to develop, where you have access to the collection of audio (that is living), MIDI (that is controlled) and virtual soundmodules simultaneously, consequently you don’t need any studio or thousands of other different machines, cables and connections. Music is overcoming a dramatic change, never heard virtual, acoustic worlds are going to be materialized. Here, I see a breaking through, and we can expect big composer-packer from this area.
The usage of music will become totally different, though not in its language, as all the rhythms, tonalities and tones have quite limited assortments, but in that it will be used as pleasure cosmetics. The waves after the World War II have consumed all of the compositional forms from the most abstract to the stupidest, all of them have been repeatedly exhausted. Music cannot develop automatically in the direction of complexity, it will never reach the Indian polyrhythm, although the complexity of the world would justify it. Since, because of the receptivity and sociological combination of the masses, nor a high culture can be established, only repackaging of compositional forms created by the existing primitive cultures of youth can be realized.
However, as the collective live application of the new technology and the software electronics have failed to be realized till now, so I am not confident at all, and I am sorry to say it, that a collective language of music could come to existence in the nearest future. Otherwise, I am of that strictly privately spread opinion that almost all of the musical languages of the high arts, that have been existing till now, and their underlying ecstasy are transhuman.
And now, let’s play about with one of the possible future prospects of “serious” music: the transhuman musical language of humans, who are genetically also modified and are distorted by the everyday practice of western societies of our days, could be as follows: the computer part is, as a matter of fact, ready, and if there is something in our age that is capable of development, then these are the generations of the computer breeds. They will unfold the brain and the musical impulses of it, and this is going to be the Consociator helmet. Today, it is still called Virtual Reality. The new transhuman musical language should be a language and technology that is asymmetric, bitonal, applying more tempi simultaneously, but applying “in phase inverted” mechanical polyrhythms, synchronized with the human alpha and theta waves, but using more dimensional space-algorithms, implementing more channel mapping and performance. But it is going to be nothing of that kind, because this sort of musical language would demand a new humankind. Hence, the future of music may be symbolized, with a real prophetic reliability, with Sisyphus’ rock. Nevertheless, it is said that the musical rhythms, the pulsation of acid parties, the cavemen’s fire, but also works of K. Barlow or György Ligeti are all mapping the brain’s physical biocurrent voltage fluctuation.
Consequently, as much as the Indian society is characterized by introvertism, the fossilized mal-consciousness of the fictive inner freedom, so only the transcendental, hypnotic and static musics will also be built into the world of music that follows the above mentioned “serious” music. From among the entire available styles, it is only the psychedelic, “druggie” trend, that is going to be weeded out. Although the assortment seems to be enormous, all the underlying process serve the same purpose: the intellectual withdrawal, the exode from this dreary world. Suddenly, the different layers of the society will find the “common denominator”. It doesn’t mean anything, that you consider the way that different styles are using the means, or the musical technology of that styles, they will always speak about the same thing. And there is another paradox manifested here: the most abstract and unique way of searching for the heaven will be executed by the most brutal physical impact, we can’t see here the sophisticated and complicated musical texture yet, that will dandle into catharsis everybody who wishes to exit, like in the case of hypnotic French organ music around the turn of the century. The acoustic pleasure and the bowels and kidneys massaging, enjoyable bass can be considered as a sign indicating the changing of music history. Since, there have never been as good deep sounds in the music as that, sometimes I do visit the parties for the reason, too, that I would suppose to enjoy the current week’s “end of the world” in hearing the numbing basses. Gone back retroactively until the antiquity, the music would always give an inside pleasure through aesthetic and mathematical-acoustic ratios, rhythms and sounds perceived by the ears. The breakthrough of modern music lies in the fact, that its intellectual mesh and associative abilities are ceasing, it is falling into this “cavemenish” massive world of rhythm, so it will produce external effects being expressed in bombing and massaging the flesh acoustically. The enjoyment of music will manifest itself not in the individual inner catharsis, but in the change of blood circulation and rapid rising of adrenaline production. At the same time, this kind of external influence serves actually the most inner exode. And the emerging demand for it is endless, global and steadily growing.
MD: Frankly spoken, there is an extremely developed potential, that will further petty or unreasonable objects.
LH: Contemporary classical music, after its extinction, still has bequeathed us an experience: this kind of music (like any other science in the high culture) is ahead of the world in terms of all of its musicians and composers have reached the end 30 years ago, when their private heaven would run into the wall of reality, and that was the starting point of the development of an interesting musical ethology: the bushfighting of private mythologies. There have been evolving incredibly developed musicological knowledge and composing techniques, and the groups of composers or even the orchestral scores made around IRCAM, however unlistenable they are, would represent the culmination of the human mind, and they are the precious stones of the European spirit in the overall culture of the world.
The composing techniques have reached that terminal point, where they, obscured by fog of their own entity, will dwell on the top of their own Parnassus, like individual and meaningless universes. The graphically attractive orchestral scores are similar to huge armaments, but I could also mention a “willie rivalry” in the kindergarten, if wouldn’t feel empathy.
The classical musicians made a mistake, that they sat down in an armchair saying that they were owners of an exclusive language and parts of a high culture of minority. It was a mistake to reinstrument the Fibonacci sequence for the twentieth time, because that was not meant for the human physiology, and it was a mistake to turn deaf ear to extra-European musics, when there was a possibility to get acquainted with them. The above mentioned orchestral scores apply only for the given composition, they are crowded with disposable signs concerning the performance, and can be performed only by learning a private code only. This is a parallelism of private hells, while the composer, having a strong class-consciousness, is sitting in the armchair, and in his/her gray solitude he/she is angry with the world that is providing for him/her for shorter or longer periods, and he/she would believe its countless emptied hocus-pocusses. At the same time, it is remarkable, that we render the structure of these musics into the reality of machines or apply them to the world of computers in vain, they won’t work there anyway, and nobody cares, because it is the same individually anonymical language, like the one that the generation sunk into Virtual Reality helmets will own.
MD: In comparison with it, what kind of intellectual basis will world music start from?
LH: On the eve of the globalization, the historical reality has become fissured, it happens not too often, and we have got a historical opportunity to compare and understand with the help of the changed way of thinking and the modern technology the co-existing and co-existed musical languages of the world.
This opportunity applied not only to music. Still before the set-in of the postmodern, I call it an ‘apo-capitalistic’, consumer caste-system, right before the traditional cultures considered as the iridescent reflections of the past would have died out, and a deformed western world, becoming caste-like, built up: as a last psychedelic pushing of the 60ies, there was a period, when the big theory of comparative musical synthesis, worthy of the European musical culture, could have been born, similarly to the search for the Universal Theory of physical science. There was 25-30 years for this purpose. And never more. Before that, there had been the self-determining and impermeable world of traditional feudal cultures and the narrow-minded, Europe-centric world concept of the bourgeois society, then, after their decay, there came the similarly impermeable homogeneous, conformist-narrow world of the new global multiculture. At that threshold point of the historical course, there appeared for the first and, at the same time, last time the chance for this synthesis, that is, otherwise, contradictionary to the reality and true only in its possibilities. But nobody has even noticed it.
MD: And what happened instead?
When after 1968, for the quieted shaggy minority there is only one way remaining, that leads towards the inside, and even the ashrams of the great soultraders have become emptied, then there comes another chapter of and scheduled need for, or a small degenerate revolution of, snapping out of the world made uninhabitable by us. The eternal software of the ancient instinct, the technique of “entering the picture” by performing a complete somersault, that is an invention of an ancient Chinese poet, the “trance-forever” by means of a virtual helmet, that reminds of the mole-cricket-like head of the Alien, just to defeat the daily reality with the help of the fashion, the drugs and the science, and where punk, having still a class rage filled with social feeling, will turn against itself instead of the caste-rigid and unchangeable social reality (that is where the fashion of safety-pins transforms itself into the acidic fashion of piercings, actually covering the whole body, just like in the case of ecstatic dervishes, including even the intimate parts of the body, fashion of colored contact lenses, body plastics and tattoo), and where, and this is of cardinal importance, we can see the emergence of all the clichés and misunderstandings of the extra-European cultures in the form of “World-Music”.
At about this time, there occurred the ‘white man’-s last meeting, among others, with the Indian music, when from the second part of the 50ies this kind of music, in view of its entirety and origin, was identified by, among others, from John Cage to Yehudi Menuhin and The Beatles with a minority, but considering the performer, Pandit Ravi Shankar, ingenious slice of it. Though the extinction of the traditional Indian schools (gharana) had already commenced around the turn of the century in parallel with the disappearance of the mahárája courts, this kind of misunderstanding of classical Indian music by ‘white man’-s consumption could also lead to the development of a consumable Indian music that was comparable with the global “conform-idiomatism” of the awful pop industry. And in this way, however, the very essence of the Indian music is fading away, that is nothing else, than a fantastically sophisticated, ancient and ecstatic human exodus, being the mathematical purity and Heaven in itself, and if You allow me to tell my opinion, I would say, if the Hell exists, there is Indian music playing, for sure.
In the world, Indian and Gamelan musics have the most stringent mathematics, where none of the notes are improvisative and in particular meditative. Here, every composition will be concreted into the repertoire by age-old repetitions, and still: the performer or the Javan orchestra will never be able to play the same music twice in the same way.
This is the ocean of freedom, where all the participants, like engineers of the kingdom come, will build up the monumental, transcendent cathedral of Indian music of tiny little rational pavements and units. The whole Schönberg line (reihe) is a Teuton barbed wire (walhalla) compared to the Gamelan structure. The ‘white man’-s ergonomic detachedness from the music’s original ecstatic factor, together with his/her alienated scream, would become evident, and at the same time naturally delicious, through the sounding of the 32” flue pipes of Cavaille Coll organs.
Let’s refer for a moment to the progressive but already also disappearing rave, goa trance, acid and psychedelic dub music of our days. Music is a physical “drug” that cannot be replaced by anything else. You can get ratios through your ears, constructions are penetrating into your brain, and there can be born feelings – without any drugs – that none of the other organs of sense could induce or transmit. And while the above mentioned Indian music is an intellectual exode of a thousand-year-old development from this uninhabitable world, now the similar attitude of acid music will guide us to the consumers’ praxis of weekend liberation and alienation of body and soul, incited from outside, i.e. it appears as a more up-to-date technology of the „art of desertion”.
That is how the modern technology and the extra-European music elements, constituting a light mix, will appear simultaneously in the daily practice of the so called “World Music”, and on the digital carriers of alienation and artificial mal-consciousness, in the form of samplers, Virtual D-Sound Helmet, DVD, and CD-ROMs containing sounds and programs.
Now, let me please quote, for a moment, from the commentary of my CD booklet, that would like to represent deliberately that possible and, in my opinion, shortly ensuing future:
“The Sangeet Novus Sensus has been composed for a socio-ethno musicologist coming from the Eridanus constellation 200 years later to our Earth. This demo was produced in 1995-1996 in the former East-Europe as a reflection of the sociological experience having been obtained in the late 20th century. Its technological basis was a PCM morphology using up the old FFT spectrum-analysis as an algorithm controller and a virtual overtone-synthesis software developed by me. Here appears the music as a physiological sôma (sleg), that seems to be one of the potential acoustical solutions of abandonment from the earthly reality and of the generating the social-moebius-mind based on my “computer mêmesis” technology. The modular goa-electronics, the matrix topology of tablâ-mêms, synthesized carcinogen PCM sequences, the Hindusthân style of the astral-hallucinogen orchestration or the polyphonic application of the analyzed interstellar noise spectrum samples or the geometric fractal loops induced by Zipi programming and the Pythagorean methodology of the sound mixing – all have spun a mêmetic cobweb around the average phosphorescent acid-consciousness having been grow in consequence of the alienation trend in this century, so the Sangeet Novus Sensus appears as a refined “prâna of transociete” of the millenium. Later on, when the humanoid consciousness transplanted into networks and the human race settled down into the stratosphere of Jupiter – in those days the original frequency algorithms of the music being converted into laser needle impulse were plugged in the synapse of the human neuron outcome and they were stimulated by thousands of 3D-16 Hz BPM impulse/minute – there began a new area of the music history and the hidden meaning of Sangeet Novus Sensus became as an ethnological nightmare of the past.”
(Remembrance of LH, entitled „The Virtual Męmesis of Music”, in „Technomusicology” 2009/IV. pp.709-128., October issue.)
MD: In one of your interviews you complained that no synthesis was existing among the different musical styles, and the reason for that is, that they have a too short lifetime, and by the time we could realize the synthesis, a style would be superseded by others. I wonder, if the world music, that intervenes in the spirit of synthesis, indeed has the synthesizing power. The ranking of the high-class music, that was named later by the title of classical music, had been assured exactly by the integrating capability that made it possible to raise and reconcile different musics in a way, that it didn’t deny the used elements, rather organized them into an advanced unity, justifying them hereby. This kind of capability was made possible by the complexity of composing techniques of the high-class music. The principal issue for me is, that the world music, lacking that kind of techniques, indeed has the power to synthesize. Because if not, then instead of synthesis it can only boast of the doubtful virtue of syncretism. I have the feeling, that world music (of what, according to your opinion, we should speak already in the past tense) is speaking on the one hand about the final disappearing of traditional cultures of music, and on the other hand, about the absence of a uniform standard language of music without being able to replace it. We had taken out the wall being among them, but it turned out, that they would die at that very moment. For me, the birth of the cultural and technical conditions of world music will rather document the extinction of local languages, than the birth of a new standard language. The unification is talking about, as a matter of fact, the disruption. Because, the synthesis can just be created among different things having strongly marked features. But behind the softy, lukewarm proximity and the “everything resembles everything” kind of attitude towards life, there is actually hiding the experience of strangeness, that is, we may safely be close to each other, we won’t reach each other anyway, or translated into the language of music: we are not able to create a standard language anyway, that is above all cultures.
LH: It’s a very good issue, and actually we are speaking about the same thing, when I am crying some vagrant tears about the missing of the chance that we once have been historically allowed to have. It is not a secret for us, that globalization and “multi culti” are only the ‘white man’-s mania and invention, and this fact will justify both meanings of Your aforesaid sentences. But as concerns the culture, in the spirit of ethnomusicologism of the beginning of the 20th century, only that part of it is able to live on, the ‘white man’ could record. The English managed to record, among railroading, murdering and ruining the Bengali jute industry, some musical events, too. If they didn’t do, we would know nothing about Bengal life of music of the 18th century.
When I was travelling around India, in connection with music, my only advantage was that I was a white man. I refused to record as a quasi vegetarian inhaling the vapors of millennial Hindu philosophies and a believer of these “truths” the musical events, but I intended to interpret the things with wide-eyed astonishment and comparative ability of a star traveler, at the same time with all my heart, with feeling and with that kind of helpless annoyance about the senseless destruction that would fill my days to this very day. The dual beam of view, that is underlying Your questions and their meaning, will reveal exactly the same alternativeless and seemingly predestinated and illogical socio-musicological “development”, or rather the contradiction, of the realized zombie World Music, that I have thought to open up. It is nonsense, but I have to say, that this new World Music should have been created by musicologists and those, who are still thinking, that the traditions of music can be preserved despite the development of society. Pronouncing the word “development”, I am absolutely unsure about the properly justified omission of the usage of quotation marks.
MD: But if they are rescuable, what is the synthesis for?
There is or may be a possibility or necessity (if any) for synthesis, and it may be only realized, when there is no conventional ethos, standard language and culture between humans and their collective structures. The composers of Tibetan church music used to compose their music on 8-9 minutes long music periods having 72 BPM tempo, and those compositions were written down in orchestral scores. Or, I may mention Ustád Amir Khán of Indore, who used to have rendered his vocal compositions in a 56/4 tála, (in exclusive privat ‘mehfill‘ performances)
Actually, I could continue enumerating examples like this, with tears in my eyes, till tomorrow night, but I have to ask: where is the human species of our days, besides mutants of course, for whom this kind of historical, but still learnable musical practice would mean a tormenting daily requirement. But it is a certainty, that the peculiarities of musical way of thinking, which are deemed to understand and still found by a musicologist in the still existing practice of great Asian musical culture of our days, well, those peculiarities could never be reinvented or rediscovered again as a musical practice of later ages. And I consider them timeless, floating and closed universal worth entities, even if the natural progress of human culture will throw away those conceptual-musical constructions in garbage of history.
At the same time, and this is another argument for the realization of synthesis I am conceiving of, the social-cultural attitude toward life of contemporary western-global societies is, in my opinion, remarkably close to the underlying meaning of Asian composed music. Thus, as part of my opinion, I also believe that the synthesis becoming possible partly on the basis of natural history of vanishing Asian traditional compositional forms being developed by history in an unrepeatable way, that is, for the reason of physico-acoustic universality been refined on the distillates of the centuries-old misery of feeble human being, and partly through this kind of modern boundaryless of information, would be particularly suitable for cathartic representation of our world. So far as music serves that purpose.
Naturally, I am fully aware that all of this is a private illusion of our age, a kind of surviving strategy that has only an obvious, and hereby deemed feasible, opportunity in the culture of these days, but certainly it is a hopeless undertaking. Who would think, but I am still of the opinion, that the construction I have set up would accomplish a real global standard language of music, certainly only then if the historical development of our planet would be different from the present one, because the source of that is nothing else but the similar attitude of standard languages of human arts, scientifically speaking: its “behavior” will be implanted into a global culture in a digital way of orchestration of modern times. If it so happens, then there could be emerge a new uniform standard language of world music in the spirit of a genuine world-village, when all the participant element would be assembled in their original quality, namely, in their own subsistent authentic schemes and cultural mediums and preserving their own system of languages and sound theories. When hell freezes over, certainly.
But, as we already reviewed, because of the known social shackles, such illusions had no possibility of appearing in the human minds earlier, and according to my primitive predictions, nor the new global order provides an adequate ground for that kinds of thoughts either. That is, instead of realization of the desirable but for the moment hopeless perspective of fading of the state and instead of collapsing of societies into independent, small entities with no central administration, into small, ecological communities having informatical and infrastructural relations with each others and having their own freely elected hierarchy, certainly without any nations or borders, but today just the opposite of it is gaining strength by way of Vishnu-chariot of the globalization trend, and only the borderlessness and the global power of big companies pulling the strings is going to be materialized from that. And there is no conflict between the autonomous but atomized communities and the unified World-Music, that system has already been tested for a longer time in China, India, Indonesia etc.
MD: One the thing I am in doubt about is that this alleged common denominator could be converted into audible music. In my opinion, the universal features can only become audible in form of special features. Is it certain, that those features are salvageable?
LH: Certainly not in this real world, because all the things are being destroyed here. Like King Kong, we will fetch him and then kill him, because he doesn’t behave properly. This new kind of culture is the same.
While I am speaking of the common denominator of conceptual structures of cultures, that are disappearing because of the selectional nature of our history, and the synthesis built up from their saved elements, now let’s say for Ockeghem that would be the best, if forty choirs were singing his choruses even in hundred years’ time. There is still a chance, but it is precious little. A futurological question: whether there will remain so many and that kind of mutant strata, for whom the structure of Ockeghem is still of great importance? I have no illusions about that. An exceptional gift of our beloved age is that I already and still have the possibility to listen to Ockeghem, whom I would like to consider this time a symbol of things that are important for us from this world, and this is a further argument for the exceptionality of our age, because it is not sure that the brains of our grandchildren will be ruffled by the late gothic polyphony.
As the structure of Hindu-Muslim classical music won’t become an essential part of the culture of future, along with Ockeghem’s partleading, so beside the furious archiving the participation in a synthesis appears, but of course only gradually, to be the only pledge of survival. The present direction of music history is determined by the final technicization of music, the domination of mass culture and the complete and osmotic absorption of subcultures.
The ones, who are understanding the language of European classical music, will find themselves in a social quarantine, and their situation is similar to the segregated order of Indian pillar saints or yoga-s: they are capable of standing on one leg for ten years as well. Some of them will compose pieces for an investment fund or insurance company, others will descend and change the composing technique magically into surviving technique, making time travels and opening private ways towards an other world, towards the world of desired freedom and survival. For today, it can be said, and this is true in case of each the so-called human arts, that practicing the arts is a kind of pottering in a crate full of pissy sand, that is enjoyable and important only for the creator.
At the same time, the youth’s musical attitude has also changed fundamentally, here the so-called intellectual pleasure originating from the traditional practice of music is replaced with drugs, and the music of today will provide only the acoustic stimulus for that. As a matter of fact, we may hardly speak about music here: the main point is not the structure anymore, but representing it on a level of energy, an acoustic petting that will immediately invoke the collective, but for today only a conscious level, revolution during the fold-warm hangar parties, where all the participants will depart towards the dark inner spaces of the individual, and where there is only the chitin-shell of a smashed ego that is waiting for the ones wishing to be freed.
Their and our brains have already been smashed into shivers by these new chapters of the media and the consumer culture. It comes natural to this new generation to exit this world sometimes by the help of a pill, sometimes by the help of the volume of sound or a reincarnated philosophy. In terms of social presence it is almost the same. From the given alternatives, those kids will choose, otherwise for totally obvious reasons, the only possible one, since no kind of political, social, physical or artistic articulation has a chance against the power, the methods of profit-making and the multinational mechanisms. The asylum of the youth looking for a sensitive and habitable world, is the acid party, the hangar, where they could find a momentary human warmth and an ancient community, even if they won’t touch the one who is writhing by his/her side.
They intensify this general feeling by means of pills, in order to join this big, common and ecstatic fold-warmth as easy as possible. Because, for some reason it is still the presence of the other people that would keep the human life on an acceptable temperature. And this is the reason why we need a kind of social ecstasy that overcomes the daily reality, and this is the secret of the nowadays culture of the youth. Well then, this is our residual standard language, this radical way of refusal, since the real world will not be doubted, not for a second, and it would not even come up that something should be improved or done in a different way. Even if for a couple of hours, we begin to function as a human, and we will feel as if our stamina that have been tapped by day would regenerate during the night, how symbolic it is, but in fact it is also an enormous wasting of human lifes.
The drugs, in fact, instead of connecting people to this meta-language will coagulate that. If we make intelligent observation and we are capable of grace of satori, then we will realize that in this world everything is true in an upside-down way.
MD: Consequently, it is the drugs that dictate the styles of music.
LH: The chemistry. The underground, as a matter of fact, is realized here in the industry. The there produced incredibly fine chemical nostrums, that barely induce addiction, have completely brought the styles of music under their power. Thus, the realized small tribal standard language is as follows: ‘to enter the painting’and
ab ovo leave this uninhabitable world. I think nobody may say that they are not right. Otherwise, the situation is already worse now compared to classic acid parties, and we are going to loose even this kind of hangar-community. Those small communities just begin to disintegrate and the remainders are being transferred to the Internet. In order to understand this everyday kingdom come and the daily-culture forming role played by drugs in it, just let me reveal the situation. The turning rhythms used non-deliberately by authentic techno music of our days are shifted form the metronome beats by a sixteenth – sometimes thirty-second – note, and the shift is kept constantly and through periods, or in each period the entire rhythmic formula is turned over and over, just like in Indian tabla compositions. And this kind of opiate is the quintessence, an approach which is floating but requiring rational knowledge and will lead to the wished heaven. Here, exactly the same way like in the Indian music, the polyrhythmic lift-off from the basic rhythmic beat turns round in relation to the whole bar, and arrives after x bars on the first beat of the given period, that is nothing else but defeating the reality, the levitation of the soul.
It is exactly the same, as 3D-pictures, You are just scrutinizing it, and focusing on it, and then suddenly You are inside. The jazz, for example, will never accomplish anything, because it is the language of onanism. The mechanical techno or dub are the rational language of the collective kingdom come, thus, it will transfer you to that other world.
- If it is so, and the music is going to take over the role of drugs, then
LH: Then you don’t need to take the drugs. Anyway, this is the future of the thing called music. As I have already mentioned, there is a software in existence, also called brainwave-synthesizer, that would generate measuring sounds capable of measuring the levels of the brain’s alpha, beta and theta waves, then synchronize them with the generator and by means of a stereoscopic sound using three dimensional algorithms (see Convolution or the famous Convovolvotron) you can synchronize your own alpha, beta etc. waves with timbres and frequencies of virtual synthesizers. Two bundles of sounds get suddenly in phase, you touch the “G-point” of your brain and you become staggered. Undoubtedly, you have already perceived your blood pressure rising or falling unexpectedly, and you have lost the control for a moment. Just imagine the same, periodically for hours, with oriental, statically monotonous rhythms, tones, stereoscopic acoustic, and on top of it all, put together according to your most personal demands. You can totally send yourself into a trance by means of sound having different spectrum-structures, and thereby the human being is going to create his/her own private, infernal audio-heaven.
In the nowadays disappearing breakbeat, for example, all kinds of very sharp saw wave tones are used having an overtone structure that makes you literally totter when you are listening to it in your headphones or in a party, because that tones will cause a momentary lapse of consciousness (so called picnolepsy). If anybody were so kind as to remember “sleg” mentioned by Arkadi and Boris Strugacki, that would understand what is going on here. As a matter of fact, all of that is going to decline into looped, four-four, acoustic cocaine of the daily consciousness in the virtual helmet of the home computer, along with the three dimensional tonal systems, but who is capable of resisting the opportunity.
MD: At the same time, these strong effects will nevertheless turn the glance inward.
LH: They will, all in all, help to exit the world, where the music has become the fitness practice of weekend desertion of the soul and the body, stimulated from the outside. It is obvious, that the stimulus threshold is becoming higher and higher, and the question is, what we can find in the most inside part of self. The situation being that one of the most phenomenal ability of the human beings, namely the knowledge of playing music, that is able to point beyond the human existence, has been degenerated by the music industry into sweet poison.
MD: Is it possible, that the drugs are similar to technology: we cannot use it for the purpose it is meant for?
LH: The drugs, instead of healing or helping to widen the borderlands of the arts, and instead of helping people to obtain material of knowledge, decomposed to the level of genetic memory as well, will appear as an everyday holocaust. There are some who would argue that drugs have become unnecessary in the “Kondratiev” cycles of capitalism, and serve for managing the human surplus pushed out to the peripheries, just like sex and cable TV or the everyday Virtual Reality. I think it’s an exaggeration, because it is less efficient then to incinerate the sociological surplus, been picked out from the social homeostasis, in imploded volcanic craters.
MD: At which point could we seize the breaking through from the structural-intellectual reception of music towards the visceral reception? What kind of eras are known in music since 1968?
After World War II, with America’s new economic empire, there was the start of the process of music’s becoming a quasi-standard language. The élite language that until then had only been existing in the mind of participants of high culture, would all of a sudden spread on the surface of the masses. In parallel with the development of consumer society, it becomes possible also for the common people to obtain the pleasures of privileged intellectual refinement, that would certainly imply immediate fall of the level of cultural products and their turning into a quasi-standard language. The same holds true of other branches of arts as well, but let’s stick to the music. The classical music has lost its leading role, and in place of it there will evolve a public culture, I mean an interim musical language by this. This musical culture has its roots in thousands of things, let me not to list it till nightfall, but it is still able to summarize the challenges of the new world and to find an outlet for the socio-emotional tensions caused by itself. It is comparable in its primitiveness to the cavemen’s frisking round the fire and ecstasy, that, strictly speaking, because of its being elementary is closer to the human than any alienated Schönberg-like classical musical structures. This is what I call the First Wave, that has been the rock and roll era extending, with a little allowance, from Elvis to the Beatles (the later means the end of this Wave). On its top there is the American style of prodigalism, the free and unclouded consumption storming, everybody feels divinely well, and that will cause also the standardness. Sex, the shaking of the ass, dancing of harts on the parquet floor, and so extremely simple musics, shrinking the brain into the size of a peanut, that are almost driving me up the wall. On the other hand, the ones who are parts of it, would pass through this period with positive feelings, since as compared to any earlier, pre-war, stuffy and oppressive high cultures, it was the clean air itself, the very world of freedom. In this regard I also highly appreciate it, although in viewing the videos of that time again, it is slightly shocking that in its elements deemed the most positive in those days, like Hendrix’s guitar playing, we can also discover the first signs of decay and degeneration. He was the one, who put a fuzzy, very progressive and increasingly abstract music into action with his overeffected, scratchy sounding, stomach tearing guitar sounds, symbolizing the “injury of the world”.
Thus, being well after 1968, the western youth movements, in my opinion the last spontaneous revolutions of humanity, are falling to dust on the millennial bastions of the states. And then, some Oriental incubuses would begin to creep forth from the backyard of history: Sri Chinmoy, Maharaji, Bhaktivedanta, Maharishi, the Moon-sect and so on, till our days and till the end of time. Those Oriental monsters would breathe the philosophical práná of the human misery of the horrible Oriental societies on the Western World, that is having a seized up mobility, becoming increasingly caste-like but still wanting to recover, and the poor youth, craving for the freedom, would of course inhale it like ganja.
The New Wave, sprouting from the from the punk, had got about one and a half year. For me, it is the Second Wave, a very productive and fantastic period of time, when all the same has happened in small, then during the First Wave. What a time of visiting concerts it was, and the many bands, clubs, groups and small cocoons that were formed at that time. For a small time, everything had become conventional again, of course much more divided in terms of society than earlier, since there was a statistically much smaller number of people who were possessing the New Wave. In one and a half year, it was certainly being castrated, but there would be never again as many free and independent record companies, with own networks, in the world, than at that time.
I was a great admirer of the positive one an a half year of intellectual New Wave. I always used to get off on their subtle irony, that they have imagined to change the world by means of parody. But the punk, the quasi-standard language of this positive Second Wave, positioned on a deeper level, was persisting in the radical expression of refusing and changing the society. Here, there will appear the elements of self-destruction (safety-pins, early piercings etc.), and hereby the all-social aggression is not aimed anymore at the system’s transformation, but the participants, as a result of the authority’s masterly manipulation, would turn it against themselves instead. They are responding to the superstructure, that is apparently unchangeable, with destruction of themselves, but don’t forget about the positive surplus that is coming in terms of society from below, it is an other general characteristic of the waves again. They will always start from below and die on the upper level of social strata.
The (d)evolution is extremely well illustrated, otherwise, that since the First Wave is spreading absolutely globally on the entire surface of the youth, the Second Wave has already disintegrated into social classes, where the permeability among the different classes, because of the intellectual difference between the punk and New Wave, is only ephemeral. We have to look for the roots of the acetonish new world in the 80ies.
For me, the turning point was Michael Jackson’s video, called “Thriller”, where there were tensomething zombie-s rising from the grave, corpse-punch sputtering from their cheeks and they were dancing on a desolate factory-yard a disco dance like danse macabre. Well, the educated audience is going to buy it in many millions of copies and reach an orgasm with it, and this level and pleasure factor of decay will sweep away all the other tendencies. Actually, the entire musical world of our days has sprouted from the disco, or to be more precise, it has increasingly tightened on the successive sets of grooves and loops. If you take a look at the early glittering, overorchestrated instrumental disco musics, you can realize the traces of all the dance musics of our days.
Concerning Europe, I was in clubs in the Netherlands as far back as 1981-82, where the DJ, using stroboscopes, pushed the music with terrible loudness, although only for 20-30 minutes, and I also saw some strange German techno bands that were operating with brutal old and primitive drum machines and ear-tearing hi-hats. In half an hour, some druggies were taken away in cold packs. And those parties were already called acid, meaning that the acid version of alienation would come into existence very early. Since then, the comprehensive concept of acid has gradually fallen into pieces, today there are some 25 kinds of styles existing at least, but for me all of them would still belong to the same Third Wave.
This is the music of broken minds, a continuous “breaking” of drum & bass, an endless fragmentation, a kaleidoscope. To bring the truth in two-week imprints: there are no more appropriate music on Earth to do it, than the above-mentioned styles. And they can also perfectly assure the daily experience of the broken mind. There will break forth from those guys not only the all-social brutality, but also the all-social talent. All of this is penetrating through them as if being a litmus paper, without any particular philosophical and sociological knowledge, that’s why they can be considered artists. The different styles, beginning with drum & bass, would mean in terms of sociology the same feedback, because those styles are at the same time the musical equivalents of the different social strata. Also in this case we are speaking about styles and their artists, having societal charge that are the same in terms of transcendence, longings to leave and exodus from the world, but different in sociological terms.
But the apparently strange sociological underlying structure is revealable: while the 68ers ab ovo wanted to build a brand new world, believing the future was ours, Lunar landing and Yes, the safety pinned punks of New Wave would respond with self-destruction, but still with a desperate social awareness of mission coming from very deep, finally, the intelligent children of the Third Wave would take the pills during the weekends, in their free time, and take the French leave through the by-door.
Without being immersed here in the exceptional evolution of classical music, being less tousled by winds of times and fashions, don’t forget about the new finale of classical music either, beginning officially with Edgar Varése, where composers of the Cologne electronic studio, then composers from Stockholm, and later composers grouped around IRCAM would exclaim in chorus: let’s stray off the ‘Yellow Brick Road !’.
Based on the materials stored in the archives, I am inclined to think that this vanguard should have declared: “noblesse oblige” and understood, that there are more worlds and senses of world living simultaneously on our Earth, and taken all of that with their teeth to the other side.
It’s not appropriate to talk always about examples, but it is useful to examine carefully the collegiate concert of Ummagumma from 1969, or some compositions of Magma, or even in our days the early David Tipper.
It is worth comparing the efficiency of the period avant-garde contemporary music concerts or of sometimes playful performances of artistic-insubordinate groups that are symbolically suggesting the transformation of society with the knowledges of a naval communication specialist at Pentagon, or comparing the language of human science with the ethos of a developing engineer at a multinational industrial concern. Or, let’s compare, however vulgar it might be what I am saying, the mind-influencing effectiveness of a performer’s activity with, for example, the efficiency of the Nestlé product management’s logistical system. It is exaggerative what I am suggesting, but we still should create something that is similar to the navigation system of Ohio submarine, as compared to which Verdi’s orchestral scores, being otherwise fascinating for me, would seem child’s play.
MD: In that case, is it the increase of influence, that would provide a solution after all? Since, according to that, Verdi would fall behind in the race for that very reason, because he would not be able to make a sufficient effect on the viscera. Isn’t it a contradiction here?
LH: It is, if you are considering the orchestral score. But, when you hear that on a page of score composed with unbelievable colors the singer would scream in unison that “open the door”, well, then I will be getting tired and begin to think, where that European culture of music has been declined, whilst a virginal piece with its three or four parts, or a piece of Perotinus with its two parts, could mediate a global order. And here, we can return to the very beginning of our conversation, Verdi had already been a great packaging artist, because in playing it on a piano, it would turn out that this rich score-page was consisting of altogether three notes. On top of it all, he is not packaging that “Deus meus”, but “open the door” instead. Or, let’s see the above -mentioned Mahler, who is sometimes handled as a taboo. There is no musical substance in the scores. Instead of that, there are seventy horns and forty timpani.The white composer, being the masterpiece of creation has already performed a complete somersault, but he would improbably accept, that to be an artist is terribly insufficient today.
What the history of mankind and music is all about, that there is a Gothic cathedral, with its own rational transcendentalism, and there is a leper next to it who is dying.
MD: I know that you are unwilling to do, but I still would like to ask you to enter into more particulars about your music.
I am inclined to think that I am not existing, as a personality, in this respect. According to my strategy, I relish executing the program, the conception that I consider capable of functioning, like a robot. It is based on that I always see about and learn all the things that are interesting me. For example, I am interested in the Japanese tonal system, then it seems to me that the closed Indian musical élite has admitted me as a traditional musician playing on vina and sitar, then I have learned how to cast a Javanese gong and what kind of intervals have been used by Persian-s in the 13th century, and particularly why. Then, I will compare them, certainly not for the sake of high sciences or an artistic mission, but simply because this is the best for me. The tuning of Kechuan flutes or the ancient Greek aulos and kythara literature also come under this category. There are only few thing that would be irrelevant. So, for example, synthesizers or designing and building big organs are very much relevant in this respect.
My surviving strategy is the following: I try to imagine what would have happened, if we could awake in time and if we have taken seriously the possibility of a new order, and then I flash some moments of this possible new virtual order. I am making efforts to master the languages of “kingdom come” and I deem to find the common denominator through making a comparison among them. What I am working on is to create from two existing things a non-existing one that is real, because I have understood and scented that this is possible only now. It is real in the meaning, that it is possibly real, and at the same it is obvious that it will never exist. Unless somebody do work it out. I don’t want to have a boring Martian language, but a new, alternative reality instead. However, it seems to me that I am going to remain a shipwrecked of a non existing and never ever possible world.
And allow me to introduce the theory of meme-s, that is, for me, an ingenious analogy generator. I have been working on my meme-s since 1979, not only in a musical sense, but I also paint them in triptych or other forms, then I would like to make moving sculptures of them, as if they were computer animations but in real four dimensions. For the time being it keeps me well employed. It is a tough proposition, because I need materials like mercury that will harden differently depending on the color of light, some brain-like opalesque, gelatinous rubber, some iridescent fluid glass-wool, that can be spun like spider web, then will harden like steel etc.
I have been working already for some thirty years on compiling an Indian musical encyclopedia, then I keep refining the tonal system that is based on shruti intervals but still has a polyphonic structure, this is also an old mania of mine, where every polyphonic harmony is composed of acoustically perfect overtone scales. Besides, I used to write about the compositional technique of Hindustani tálas, that is in fact the mathematical system of defeating the reality etc.
I concern myself very much with the future of technology, and within it the memetic synthesizer, that may, in case of realizing it, cause catastrophe on the Earth. A talented Hungarian physicist, who occurs on the payroll of Pentagon, have invented some year ago a molecular needle that would scan the materials. There has been existing the like with different laser and other kind of sampler-s, but here we can speak about real molecular sampling. There’s nothing left but to put into the system a high performance storage capacity, then to connect this with the still two dimensional but enormous pace of technological progress of photocopiers, and we are arriving immediately at the material synthesizers. Earlier, it was the sampler that did the same with the sounds. It is being realized here the real ethos of the consumer market economy: the personalized replication. With the insertion of genetics, the biosynthesizes will appear on the scene, then by way of Internet everybody might be able to materialize it by means of the material synthesizer modem. Frankly spoken, if you got enough money on your credit card, a Crivelli painting scanned with the molecular needle can decorate even your flat. It is obvious, that there will be no need for any Crivelli painting, because artificial genitals, chemicals and other stimulants, games, softwares and artificial creatures are going to be synthesized mainly. As we can see, in a little while the softwares will be able to simulate the entire physical reality, and even the human consciousness is going to move into the networks. The libraries are becoming empty, the factories are disappearing, the things are becoming alienatedly immaterial, everything is passing over to the net, where everything is becoming realizable in time, and to cap it all, customized to the personal needs. So, this is how the paradise of customer world looks like. Pets, toothpaste, modularly assemblable building, mothership, and a host of products with a never seen quality can be realized in that way in a moment.
At the same time, the all-collective social reality might be manifested by means of the meme-generator, that would mean a dangerous weapon of the arts, as well. The scanners connected with the brain, the consociator controlling of the material synthesizers could mean the physical materialization of the memes, the appearing of which in the present human societies would only cause catastrophe and not the everydays of the intellect-ecological unity and environment of a new human species.
MD: One would expect, that somebody, who, like you, has spent a quite a lot of time in India, would convert Vedic doctrines into a lifestyle and then propagate them. But you seem to also overstep this. Neither will Eastern doctrines offer an alternative in Europe?
LH: Europe’s mobile society, with its city-states, colonies, cathedrals, grinding mills and division of labor stepped on a way of human coexistence-relation, that was completely different from India’s world blended with village communities, where retreat from the community and as a hermit, sometimes connected to a certain age (sadhu, yoga), was regarded as the greatest intellectual virtue, and where the intellectual cream of the society would drift to the periphery of collective human actions.
In Europe, the property is nothing else, than sphere of decisions, and the sphere of decisions is nothing else, than the building up the personality – ecce homo – namely possession: that is personal God, polyphony, knight in armour, heraldry, cathedral, nuclear submarine.
On the other hand, in India, i.e. in the pantheistic and personal propertyless World of thousand faceless Buddha-s, Hindu gods and goddesses and bodhisattva-s, there is only one kind of freedom for the individuals, the fictional inner freedom. One of the techniques to attain the freedom is yoga, i.e. when the man, namely the social being with a moebius-mind performs a complete somersault. And so, for the Indian intelligentsia of that age, living in one of the most infernal manner of human coexistence, yoga was a fantastic instrument to overcome the sequence of horrible rebirths (samsara), and due to the “proper” manners meaning victory over the subjection and the body to attain and deserve never to be obliged to rebirth on this world.
The imaginary freedom and the musical system of the way leading inwards, the fantastically sophisticated exode of human sufferings, the millennial method of defeating the reality, will become here, in India, the most collective but at the same time the more personal musical language. It is a paradox, since orchestral musicians and performers of the individual Europe are becoming small and nameless screws of an impersonal system, the orchestra, while in the personalityless and despotic world of India there begins to take shape a fantastic structure, that has lead to both the eight Vedic philosophical schools and the classical Indian music that is based on genealogy of the great master-musicians.
At the same time, it has become obvious for today, where the implantations of misunderstood great Oriental doctrines would lead. The industrial revolution of T-model and the “human rights” having a corresponding quality, namely the global human right to consumer metabolism, will make possible for everybody, in a way that is unknown in the Oriental despotic regimes, to flood the world with the harvest of his/her mind with the selective efficiency of the (non) free market. Thus, there will be more and more of the mimics of mimics, the soulsavers of the big doctrines, the knights and artists in the bogus holo-court of phenomenas, and soon there will stay only the “guests” of Solaris everywhere, if there is someone around, who can still follow what I am about.
The more precisely we follow the doctrines of a theory, the more we trample ourselves into an immanent morass, and the less we are able to say yes to something else. The adopters and followings of great traditions will merely say no. They are reproducing the same morass that they would like to get rid of. What does the yogi meditate on? To redeem the world? I would not think so, in my opinion he takes every effort to sleep his soul out. According to the musicologist, Yajnavalkiya brahmin (6th Century AD, Hindustan):
“If you are fully aware of the laws of tones and rhythm, then you will step on the way leading home”.
Is there any need for a talk straighter than this?
By way of illustration, let me mention in the vicinity the practice of Tensegrity cooked up in the USA, that is a series of exercises and philosophy, that will generate mental ray of energy. It ‘teaches‘ that the human’s individual consciousness is roaming not in his/her brain, but out of it, somewhere in the space-time of another dimension, and it keeps communicating through a ray of energy with the empty human body, that will saunter otherwise like a zombie. Besides that, it also teaches about the “flyers”, who are living off the human race, and who, like Alien parasites, will keep the level of all the evil in the human world, and of our motives and feelings, they are users of our consciousness and our institutions, they are poltergeist kind of parasitic fluidiums that are responsible for “infiltration” of our ideas and the human ego, and who are practically the symbols of memetic eggs of the Alien, sticking to the human face and coiting the death into his/her mouth, or the philosophical incarnation of green mould covering the crumbling-decomposing skeleton of “Hunger”, of dissolving carcasses of “Zoo”, and of graphics made by Hans Bellmer and H. R. Giger.
Just think about the fact again, in what manner, namely how correctly, the human brain, as a meme-generator, is modeling the reality. Meanwhile, I cannot help understanding the anguishing pain and the desire for the lost Paradise. Undoubtedly, there is a lack of collective musical ecstasy, that used to fill up that corner of our personality, which would make us human. But, there is one thing, that I am absolutely sure of: the problems of neither the individual nor the society can be solved by means of a Tibetian Bon sentence or inhaling the Veda-s. As none of the religious paradigms could ever find a solution to that.
MD: So what is the solution then?
LH: One thing we can be sure of, that no new Messiah is coming, and there will be no more global revolution. Beside the ecological collapse, the market economy and all the practical and ideological problems of the parliamentary democracy, being carried by that economy, but still not exploded, are at the gates. The ozone holes are known since 1968, nevertheless, the competents were only so kind as to admit it about the middle of the 80ies. There are 25.000 tin barrels of plutonium lying in Novaya Zemlya on the bottom of the sea. Let’s express our sincere thanks to the armies, being essential requisites for the life on earth.
Certainly, all of that is going to be gradually fished up for the sake of universal and uniformed consumer system and its peace, the “Pax Peristalsis”. And since the consumer hemisphere should be maintained, those companies will strain the whole utilizable ecosphere, just like stitching of the ozone holes, that has already been begun. This is how the fate of music is correlated with the big rinsing of the oceans. Naturally, they will do it not in the interest of the people or the music, or the clean water and air, but for the sake of sustenance of the system. On the other hand, when the consumer jar becomes full on the Earth, and everybody is already consumer everywhere, then a historical circle also will come to an end. With the mode of production becoming global, an expansion system, that is sustained by the growing, will come to an end of its growth. Then it will be perceivable on the Earth, in the people, in the science and in the arts a kind of infinite degradation, that the current chaos would seem simply a paradise compared to that situation.
Just let me instance only one element of this world, that is, some time in the future, the genome will be handled as a typewriter, and all the consequences of a “stroke” will be known, and from that point the human culture and the known world will disintegrate. From the fossilized caste-system of the western society, it will break loose the seized up consciousness of the individual, and it will be his/her general condition, fashion and cultural demand, and the bank guarantee of his/her magnetic card that determines, what the possibilities offered by the genetics use for. The fact, that by the help of it also people being healed, or the age of life being extended, secondarily, means only a by-product. The whole appearance of the youth will be formed according to the latest fashion, as required, the “horseshoeish” shoes of that time will be real horn on the feet, but only for two weeks, because then tormenting demand may arise for silver bat ears, or golden green lizard skin. Another 30 years, and we are going to have organs that we wish, fantastic fashions will be existing, true lilac nails, true crocodile eyes, and according to the code of the genetic map tattooed underarm, the cancer of your liver, for example, can be completely healed by the help of a dedicated medicine, some kind of a synthetic molecular grid. I think, there can be no doubt that the human body is going to be completely rebuilt. All the unnecessary ingredients are being reduced, a part of the intestines and the present form of the teeth are disappearing, the composition of the bony system is undergoing a transformation, the control of the muscle-tone is being renewed and the hormone household returned. Nevertheless, it takes at least 50 years, but I am absolutely sure that human beings are going to quit of their bodies step by step. The lifetime will be extended to 150-160 years, longer than that is hardly to be expected, because it is not as easy to reset the mitochondrial timer, but in the course of time this problem might also be solved. Finally, there will be nothing but old people all around the Earth. Just imagine Your brain at the age of 150! There is enzyme treated, solariumed, smooth facial skin, tight flesh outside and a ciliated, mouldy brain inside.
It is obvious, that God, as a messianistic entity of an omnipotent, pre and above historic concept, is an integral part of human culture. It is presumable, however, that the world cannot be explained and understood based on this conceptual system, because it is totally inconsistent with the existence of a good God.
Here, on the Earth, the ceremonies and beliefs, like symbol-creating ectoplasm of human brain and imagination, are existing in place of a world livable by intellect: the legacy of all of the dead generations weighs heavily on the mind of the living, like a daily-historical practice of individual tucked underneath the social mass of the greatest common human-social evil, the cocooned me. The functioning of this planetary system, that is working according to complicated and fatal laws, will become incomprehensible at the very moment, when we put an omnipotent irrational element into this scheme, that is anyhow comprehensible, since our world has been transformed through the autocracy of the already mentioned irrational elements into what it is now.
The Ten Commandments were written for people who used to kill, steal and lie. I believe in a human being, who doesn’t need the Ten Commandments, the Bible and the Koran, or the so called traditionalism, because he/she knows by him/herself, that killing or lying is not appropriate. There is no need for mimicry, because he/she knows, that letting the world become a liveable place require neither good God, no soldiers, Churches or big companies. As I can see, there are more and more who will recognize it. Or, they won’t recognize it, but are living in that way. And, if this recognition can be spread, something’s going to happen.