De Rerum Natura / Dance of the Elements | Merzouga

 

De Rerum Natura / Dance of the Elements  | Merzouga
Sound composition by Merzouga – inspired by Lucretius’ philosophical poem.
Gruen 185 | Audio CD + Digital > [order]

 

On the Nature of Things
In his poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) the Roman poet/philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 – c. 55 BCE) explores Epicurean physics and philosophy through richly poetic language and metaphors, as he presents an entire cosmology: based on the principles of atomism, Lucretius tries to explain the nature of the mind and soul, and the development of the world. While some of his ideas have been proven scientifically wrong, some of his thoughts seem strikingly reasonable even for the contemporary reader.

 

Lucretius believes that, while everything in the universe is finite, the smallest elements (“The First Beginnings of Things”) themselves are eternal – moving through the void they collide, create forms and dissolve, just to collide again in order to create new forms.

 

For Lucretius life is a beautiful chance-driven Dance of the Elements. His ideas, popular and highly controversial in Roman intellectual circles, were soon to be banned and eventually forgotten during the rise of Christianity.

 

The poem was by chance rediscovered in the 15th century by the famous humanist Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459), most likely in the scriptorium of a monastery in Fulda, Germany. During the renaissance it eventually became a foundation stone of modern western philosophy and natural sciences.

 

 

Translating the Book into Sound
When Soila Valkama, the ars acustica-editor of Finnish broadcaster YLEISRADIO commissioned us to produce a sound-composition, we suggested to her a playful attempt of a sonic translation of Lucretius’ ideas.

 

The listener embarks on a journey in which a universe of sound unfolds.

 

Smallest sonic elements float through space, dark and chaotic, merge to create concrete forms, transform into different consistencies, from water to wind, from stone to dust, steadily in motion in a constant process of becoming and dissolving.

 

Late in the piece the sounds of mammals and humans arrive, blurring again into a palimpsest-like structure when the circle is closing.

 

We used field-recordings of nature, as an analogue for the “concrete forms” that are created by the colliding elements, but also concrete musical structures: fragments of melodies, tonalities, and rhythmic patterns in contrast to the more abstract material.

 

Intertwined with the sound-composition we encounter fragments of Lucretius’ text in English and in Latin, carefully adapted and translated by Janko, and spoken by his brother, the actor Stefko Hanushevsky.

 

The radio-piece consists of six chapters, transposing the structure of Lucretius’ six books into the compositional structure.

 

 

There is no delay, no rest to interrupt the flow, we can constantly feel it, and we can see things, smell them, and perceive their sound. –
Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Book VI: 932+933

 


 

Excerpts:

 

MP3

 

MP3

 

MP3

 

1 Track (38′22″)
CD (500 copies)

 


 

Credits

 

Merzouga is:
Janko Hanushevsky (prepared electric bass) and Eva Poepplein (electronics)
Speaker: Stefko Hanushevsky
Translations: Janko Hanushevsky
Editor: Soila Valkama
Commissioned and produced by YLEISRADIO/Finland.

 

Artwork: U9 – visuelle Allianz
The artwork was created by setting up paper in the garden and applying pens and
brushes to the branches of a tree. All the traces of ink on the paper were created
by the wind moving the tree, thus providing all the scource-material for the album’s
entire artwork.

 

Merzouga would like to thank
Soila Valkama & YLE, Stefko Hanushevsky, Lasse-Marc Riek & Roland Etzin,
Leopold Lenzgeiger, Sabine Kuechler, Markus Jarchow, Bohdan & Ewa Hanushevsky,
and Felix & Waltraud Poepplein for their continuous support.

 

This release was made possible by the generous support of SKE-Fonds.

 

 

Dedicated to Mira & Nicolai.

 

© 2015 by Janko Hanushevsky (akm/austro mechana) and Eva Poepplein (GEMA)

 

Soundscape Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2018 / Gruen 185 / LC 09488 / GEMA / EAN 192562609217