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Score for Inconsistency

By Jenny Gräf

Introduction: Sameness is not a quality that can be counted on in the realm of avant garde music spaces and scenes. To return to a space for experimentation means to be open and prepared for inconsistency. A return to unknowns. Despite the tendency of many of us weirdos to use time and energy to establish zones outside the norm, we can never draw comfort from predictability of these cultural spaces. Sameness just doesn’t grow here. Their physical, fiscal, existential, architecturally unstable nature present a kind of catch 22 for the people who inhabit them; we can never rely on the specific non-normalcy to which we are drawn.

Comfort must be derived instead from admiring the living, changing nature of underground scenes and spaces. Isn’t this, fundamentally, what we are seeking anyway? Something that cannot be duplicated, packaged into a marketable consistent “known quantity”?

What kind of resistance can we employ in a dominant culture that celebrates and takes comfort in sameness and predictability? And how can we become open and even celebrate the fragility of our cultural ecosystems? How do we justify all the effort and emotion put into establishing zones in which we can actually breathe, create, react, exist in the moment, when we ultimately have such little control over them? One way is to re-direct expectation for a recognizable experience. With practice, we can develop methods for detecting and celebrating change and inconsistency. Drawing from a scientific approach, change/inconsistency is best detected with the use of something constant –– a control variable so to speak.

This score proposes one method for detecting sameness and change, through the act of listening to the live music performance through the experiential lens of a broken, soft boiled egg, a control variable. This score was written for Mayhem, but it could easily be re-written with a more appropriate control variable for any other space/scene. I encourage you to try this one, or to create your own version.

Listening through a Soft Boiled Egg: A Score for Detecting Inconsistency at Mayhem Over a Period of Time

At home, place an egg into boiling water for roughly 5 minutes, then remove. Cool for about 20 minutes. Before you depart for the venue, wrap the egg in paper or bubble wrap, and gently pack it into your coat pocket, purse or bag. Go directly to Mayhem. (Avoid physical contact with people so as to protect the soft egg you are carrying). Wait for the rst act to start then enter the space. Upon entry, go directly to the bathroom. Lock the door, and, very carefully, take out and unwrap the soft boiled egg. Gently peel away the shell. Then, when you are con dent, and the music has started, break apart the white of the egg so the yolk rests between two halves and quickly set it down on the edge of the sink. Looking into the yolk, expand your peripheral vision, and awareness toward the walls of the bathroom and to the music going on outside it. While concentrating on the yolk, let the sound enter your body, taking in the total ambience of the space until you have formed a complete picture of this moment. With your cellphone, take a shot of the egg. You will later use this to remind yourself of the total experience. Leave the egg for others to enjoy or ponder and return to the main performance space of Mayhem for the remainder of the show, all the while, retaining the image of the egg. On your way home after the show, remind yourself of this image, and with this reminder, conjure up once again the experience in the bathroom. Repeat again, on each successive visit to Mayhem, or even just periodically. The repeated performance of this score will emphasize the overall inconsistency of experiences. (see photo for reference)

Jenny Gräf, 2018

Score for Inconsistency (for Mayhem) is composed by Jenny Gräf, July 2018. Jenny Gräf is an artist who explores peripheral places and states through sound composition, improvisation and participatory works. She is currently the head of The Laboratory for Sound at the Royal Danish Academy of Art.

A Decade of Mayhem is open 28.12.2019-27.12.2020. Score for Inconsistency is available for free download.

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