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Sensory Body and Learned Models

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In musical discourse, orality is often summarized in two assertions: to “learn by rote” and “without score”. Yet orality, and the term seems an over-simplification, refers in fact to a sensorial involvement in sonic practice. This mobilizes conjointly the ear listening, the eye sighting, the voice singing, the body dancing, the feet stomping, the hands playing, the word arising, in the service of a project built on experiences, trial and error and individual and collective constructions.

This sensoricity, a globalizing term taken up by Alain Savouret, plays a part in the ineffable side that any human action has, because it cannot be modeled (or escapes any definitive all-embracing modelization). It is constantly redefined by the permanent absorption of new experiences in the audible, vocal, tactile, gustative, visual, body motion domains… of the being in action – in reaction to the environment. Moreover, it integrates elements of traditions relative to the socio-cultural milieu of each and everyone.

Every human being has this ineffable part, which can be observed in his/her most diverse actions. It constantly interacts with the model-based part relative to the undertaken action, more or less mastered by the actor (manual techniques, theoretical knowledge, historical culture, …) and it leads to unique productions because carried by her/his global being.

Henceforth, the question is not about developing or refusing orality as defined in this way (it is there!) but rather about evaluating as closely as possible the existing models, symbolized by the relationship to the written in practice. This dosage, unconscious in nature, (the unconscious domain), can be questioned, be brought to light by the confrontation with others. Collective open practices can thus be the place where these individual equilibriums are elucidated. Greater mobility of boundaries, more porosity, can be found there. Interpersonal tinkering about becomes possible, each person bringing his/her stock of objects with a view to creating some assemblages that can become, or not, definitive realizations.

Orality questions our relation to writing and to the model to reproduce. There is orality in all societies; it is the degree of the presence and usage of writing, which introduces differences between, on the one hand, reproduction of the model, analytical discourses, and on the other hand variability of the objects in the time of their production, analogical discourses.

This point of view on orality allows one to consider musical practice from the sensorial perspective of the human body as a variable to the learned models.

Michel Lebreton – avril 2014
Translation Jean-Charles and Nancy François