h.20.30 Auditorium San Fedele


Reading James Joyce with the Ear

Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
Thema (Omaggio a Joyce), 1958

Trevor Wishart (1946)
Vox 5, 1986

Francesco Maria Paradiso (1960)
Hyper-sequence 14.5, 2008
per elettronica – (Omaggio a Luciano Berio)

Unexspected Word-Space, 2012
Dramaphony for female voice and digital interactions in real time on the text of Anna Livia Plurabella passages by Finnegan’s Wake translated into Italian by James Joyce and Nino Frank
World premiere

Electronics: AGON
Sound design and programming: Giorgio Sancristoforo
Sound direction: Massimo Marchi, Francesco Maria Paradiso
Voice: Adele Pellegatta

Inroduction: Silvano Petrosino


In collaboration with The James Joyce Italian Foundation


Syd Barret (1946-2006) Golden Hair 1969
Video by Luca Sabbioni
Carmelo Bene (1937-2002) Video interview
Mary Ellen Bute (1906-1983)
Passages from Finnegan’s Wake (1965-1967)
Edoardo Sanguineti (1930-2010) video Interview


The question taken from a sentence by Giorgio Melchiorre amazes, but summarizes an element implicit in much of the literary production of J. Joyce. Reading Joyce with the ear is not a paradox but the key to reading the various proposals that will take place this evening in the reading and in the drama. At the center is orality, voice, language, speaking writing. However, in Joyce, writing is not only read by listening to it but the language is enlarged to the point of involving all the dimensions of the human person, all the senses, existential experiences, memory, interrelationships, history. Joyce’s writing is not limited to narrating or evoking new images and sounds, but makes the whole person speak, with all that he is and lives. The whole man vibrates with his being of him in the Joycean language that includes from the most hidden depths of the human being to the automatisms of language. In addition to a reflection on the formless flow of time, as well as an immersion in pure action, Joyce’s work is an impressive attempt to make the complexity of the experience of life perceptible in the simplicity of a written line.

Contribution by Francesco Maria Paradiso:
With the audio-video passages by Carmelo Bene, by Edoardo Sanguineti, the very first multimedia creations of Mary Ellen Bute (dedicated to the concept of seeing-sound, “seeing the sound” the relationship between sound and vision) and the electro-acoustic compositions of the authors in program all centered on orality, on the voice, on the theme of language, of communication (“common-action”) of timbre, of hearing and of seeing, of re-signification, among countless ideas, therefore, the evening “J. Joyce read with the ear “offers an immersion in the flow, in the change, also in the liquidity of our time, in the” riverrun “(the” flowing-river “) of Joyce which is pure action, pure denotation, liquidity” without form “. We are at the zenith of a transformation in the direction indicated by McLuhan in The Gutenberg Galaxy: “As our age translates itself backwards into oral and auditory forms due to the electronic pressure of simultaneity, we become aware of the uncritical acceptance of metaphors. and visual models from many ages that preceded us. ” If MacLuhan is right, together with the “abandonment” of written culture we must also expect a decrease in our dependence on the representation and visual organization of sound, as exactly happens for electroacoustic or acousmatic music, and also a decrease in our dependence on sound. visual representation and organization of thought as it happens exactly with Joyce and in general in the contemporary world.

Thus the contemporary problem of living in a liquid dimension appears. A liquidity of stories, images, language and behaviors, of perceptions, of listening. Liquid immediacy of thought, a thought not obliged by the concept, “a language without thought, without thought thought, a thought not thought” as Carmelo Bene of Ulysses and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake relates. Under the electronic pressure of simultaneity, or multi-dimensionality, we are language / s, thoughts, languages ​​and behaviors that do not congeal, do not coagulate, do not thicken, do not become fixed, if anything allude, denote; it seems that the complexity of a thought is entrusted (only) to the combination of presences, instant stories, signifiers which flow in the same way as a river, or the hundreds of rivers, streams, streams (The “riverrun”, the river / time – runs in Anna Livia Plurabella) whose names are deformed, that is, mixed with different words and signifiers, stimulate simultaneous perceptions and sensitivities; allusive, ambiguous sensitivity, a combinatorial sensitivity, multi-dimensional-medial sensitivity because it is allusive.

 Ettore Settanni reports in James Joyce and the first Italian version of Finnegans Wake, Venice 1955. Joyce smiled, walked over to the library, then came towards me and pointed to Dante’s game of “Pape Satan pape Satan Aleppe”. “Father Dante forgive me, but I started from this deformation technique to achieve a harmony that overcomes our intelligence, like music. Have you stopped by a flowing river? You would be able to give musical values ​​and exact notes to that flow that fills your ears and makes you sleepy with happiness ». The passages of the interview with Carmelo Bene on Ulysses introduce a possible impact and reading of Joyce’s work with / and, says C.B .: “Ulysses has changed my life, radically, … Joyce has changed the my musical, non-musical emotions, my concepts of timbre and rhythm … the language shocked me “. For C. Well, as for us, Joyce can upset, it is possible to say, the relationship between the fixation of a thought, with “vision”, and therefore with orality. “With Joyce, continues C.B., for the first time we find ourselves in front of a thought of the immediate, to the immediate thought, so much so that it does not seem written, it seems subtracted from the writing itself, … what is thought is rendered through the immediate , this does not have any other author in the world “. “There is an electricity in Joyce over language, and there is this language that surrenders to signifiers, makes itself, almost creates continuous intersections, from which one does not leave, and the characters do not exist” “Being able to tell by not telling , … the thought is almost made fun of and there is this immediacy I believe is unique “.

We are therefore in a network, and Sanguineti’s testimony brings us into the ancient but all contemporary flow of orality: “In critical writing I have always had an idea of ​​oral communication very much in mind. […] I have always conceived writing as a form of communication in which oral communication is decisive. Poems must be performed, theatrical texts, of course, I would dare to say, are by definition, but also the novel as a form that finds in orality that relationship with the reader that is not of solitude with the book “. Orality returns from the past, the relationship with the voice and therefore the relationship with sound (not with the note or the graphic fixation of a pitch / duration) with communication understood as the search for a “common-action” d ‘I listen. “Everyone has a voice – we read in Kristin Linklater’s The Natural Voice – capable of expressing the infinite variety of emotions, complexity of moods and nuances of thought that they experience”. However and for various reasons (defenses, inhibitions, negative reactions to environmental influences, etc.) the efficiency and importance of our voice is often reduced to the point of distorting communication “. The theme of intonation, of the sound of the voice, understood as one of the many voices of nature, of reality is the theme of T. Whishart. The vocal timbre, the intonation, are the archetype of the multi-dimensionality of the timbre, of all timbres. That timbre that today, from the great change represented roughly by the Vienna School passing through Varesè, the Futurists and their recovery of the timbre of noise, Messiaen and reach us, is a fundamental but volatile and mutant parameter of our sound-musical.

Joyce should be read with the ear. It is not possible, taking up Sanguineti, to leave the Joycian reader with the solitude of the book. The book, that book, will remain closed, eternally closed. “Ulysses, Carmelo Bene continues in the interview,” is the most shining example of cinema, but the one on the page; there is no criterion of editing, of this immediacy; … Ulysses is above all great cinema, … everything that cinema from the Lumiere brothers onwards has failed to do, Joyce did: these are images, but images it seems like before, while the cinema does nothing but report the dead image of the set; .. ” Mary Ellen Bute, the first American videomaker, with her passages on Finnegans, comes to terms, with her very naive way, with this flow of immediacy, flows of thought and images, she collides with the problem of a montage, of a combination of film editing, simultaneity or multi-media, etc. With the development of multi-channel production and reproduction systems, the kinematics of sound, the movement of sound in space (the spatialization of sound) has become a new “cinema” but for the ears. Today the spatialization of sound is as important an element of electroacoustic composition as orchestration was for nineteenth-century composers. Spatialization is not just an increase in realism, it is working (as it has been done for centuries through melody, rhythm and harmony) on sensitivity. Space as well as time (assuming that it is still possible to distinguish a past from the present immersed as we are in a continuous flow of information, just as the boundary between reality and fiction, concrete and fictitious, is already canceled) are a priori forms of sensitivity .

Luciano Berio did not ask for new sounds from electronics, but for phenomena capable of interpreting reality. In Thema he records on quadraphonic tape some fragments of the eleventh chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses, that of the sirens, recited by Cathy Berberian in English and in Italian (by Montale) and French, arranged in fugue form. The metamorphosis continues between voice and music and the disassembled elements suggest an experience of “listening to language”; that is, how conventional is the way in which sounds and meanings are received. In Come suona la torza rima 1.3 Francesco M. Paradiso also uses pieces by Joyce (Anna Livia Plurabella, Joyce’s own translation of some passages from Finnegans Wake, notably the final part “The rivers flow”) and works on the interaction between sounds and language, but to offer a sort of “Theater of listening”. Vocal grain, timbre, intonations are treated as solid matter, to challenge understanding by opening sounds to space and merging perceptions, to show a space while listening. The electronics of Paradiso descends from Berio, from the School of Phonology (and we hope to be able to demonstrate this also with the presentation of a software for the original and specially conceived live electronics, which is “reborn” from the ashes of Phonology): it does not aim to subvert roles , but to create a listening event, to deepen the continuously approximated and all Joycian attempt to musicalize, “oralize” literature, to measure therefore whether the saturation of stimuli is equal to the increase of consciousness.