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Persistence, Resistance, Resonance

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Persistence, Resistance, Resonance

Maayan Tsadka


Sound cannot travel in a vacuum, physically or socially. The ways in which sound operates are a result of acoustic properties, and the ways by which it is considered to be music are a result of social constructions. Therefore, music is always political, regardless of its content: the way it is performed and composed; the choice of instrumentation, notation, tuning; the medium of its distribution; its inherent hierarchy and power dynamics, and more. My compositional praxis makes me less interested in defining a relationship between music and politics than I am in erasing--or at least blurring--the borders between them.

In this paper I discuss the aesthetics of resonance and echo in their metaphorical, physical, social, and musical manifestations. Also discussed is a political aesthetic of resonance, manifested through protest chants. I transcribe and analyze common protest chants from around the world, categorizing and unifying them as universal crowd-mobilizing rhythms.

These ideas are explored musically in three pieces. Sumud: Rhetoric of Resistance in Three Movements, for two pianos and two percussion players, is a musical interpretation of the political/social concept of sumud, an Arabic word that literally means "steadfastness" and represents Palestinian non-violent resistance. The piece is based on common protest rhythms and uses the acoustic properties inherent to the instruments. The second piece, Three Piano Studies, extends some of the musical ideas and techniques used in Sumud, and explores the acoustic properties and resonance of the piano. The final set of pieces is part of my Critical Mess Music Project. These are site-specific musical works that attempt to blur the boundaries between audience, performers and composer, in part by including people without traditional musical training in the process of music making. These pieces use the natural structure and resonance of an environment, in this case, locations on the UCSC campus, and offer an active form of musical consumption and experience. The three pieces draw lines connecting different aspects of persistence, resistance, and resonance.

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