Not A Silence

An indecipherable chord because it is difficult, clotted, and also because it comes from an in-strument with totally resonant sounds, from timbre to timbre, differently extinct, the sound disappears into the very air that had generated it. So there’s nothing else, because it is right that in the representation of what remains, beyond the distance, and after its material loss there is only, and truly only, profound nothingness. Not a silence.

With these three words: not a silence, Giovanni Morelli ends the book, Scenari della Lontanan-za from 2003, a collection of essays on western music from the late 1900s. This tiny three-word phrase is, in my opinion, one of his many mo-ments of genius, not only because it comes at the end of an in-depth investigation of the slow and distant crossfade between profound noth-ingness and the great art music of the 1900s, to then suddenly abandon us in front of a door wide open on the void and putting, in fact, eve-rything up for discussion, but because, in deal-ing with music, it uses a word that is tied to lis-tening: silence, which as we know, following the 1900s has become an inactive word. The material loss of sound is not silence simply be-cause silence, as both contemporary physics and Cage tell us, does not exist. We now know that space is vibration and therefore “sound.” We are inside a grander “sound.”