Reasons James O’Callaghan

Reasons is a piece written for amplified books and electronics. It is as much an ode to books and their powers as it is a manifesto for the musicalisation of everyday objects, to harness their familiar social and cultural meanings and guide them into an aesthetic context, unleashing new possibilities for discourse. As a composer, I envy the clarity and imaginative power that literature has to communicate ideas outside itself. If I can thieve a little bit of that for my music, then I will be pleased. This piece contains a number of transformations from the live performance of books into recordings of various real-world sounds, such as birds’ wings, rain, fire and Javanese gongs. In general, these are not intended as literal statements, but poetic constructions reflecting the ability for words (and sound!) to inspire the imagination. For the rest, I defer to John Milton: “Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” And: “…He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself…”

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