introspective language music (ILM)

In this project created by Hilary Jeffery elements of language and music are used as navigational tools for inner exploration. Wide research is carried out and distilled into a series of concise instructions which combine text, sound and image as a means to enter into introspective states.

The most important aspect of this project is its emphasis on the introspective uses of both language and music, to discover tools to aid introspection and to express the process in a new form of language-music. This new form exists between language and music, giving the opportunity for listeners to discover their own personal interpretations of meaning appearing in an emergent music which is filled with potential language. A simple example of this is: a recording of a voice which sings and speaks in an unclear way, giving room for personal interpretation of the actual meaning.

Meaning is not imposed from outside but discovered from within, giving a wide variety of possible understandings. The listener is enabled to go on an individual journey of association and interpretation, making this music definitively introspective and a tool for the discovery of different levels of consciousness.

The basis and fundamental material of both language and music is sound. Pure sound exists behind all potential music and every language. Sound is the primary ground which can be explored to discover the connections between language and music, where they meet and how they differ. The results of this work will exist in a territory between music and language, a place without a too obvious sense of definite style or meaning, an area which can specialize in being unclear and ambiguous. By approaching and consciously inhabiting such an ambivalent space one is able to access one’s own thoughts, hearing them as actual entities, sometimes without any clear linguistic content. One gains insights into the process of idea formation in a pre-linguistic state or a half formed condition with potential for several interpretations.

This project is a study of the music of language and the language of music, focused on the exploration of spaces where music and language can co-exist. Clearly expressed and understood language can give unequivocal meaning, whereas music can be subject to very individual interpretations. At the same time language can be unclearly expressed or heard differently than the way it was intended, giving wide space for subjective interpretation and misunderstanding, whereas music can function non-verbally in a very direct way.

The area of enquiry is very wide including such subjects as: linguistics, semiotics, poetry, composition, voice art and the use of language in psychotherapy. A broad study and general knowledge of these key areas helps to inform several sound experiments with voice, recording and digital processing.

ILM is a long term work which will have numerous phases of activity. Musical and linguistic structures will be explored through concentrated experiment, resulting in a new hybrid form which can be used artistically and scientifically. The research results take the form of studies for solo performers, each study is considered to be an “instruction” for a specific performer to carry out.

The first phase (2013 – 2014) of this project was a research project funded by the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund and resulted in four new studies (Instructions 001 – 004) for Claron McFadden, Alessandro Bosetti, Jaap Blonk and Amelia Cuni.