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Swiss composer and cellist Stefan Thut composed ‘about’ in 2017 for the sextet of Ryoko Akama (electronics), Stephen Chase (guitar), Eleanor Cully (piano), Patrick Farmer (metal percussion), lo wie (tingsha), and Thut (cello). The six musicians have diverse backgrounds in music, poetry, and literature, as well as comprising a multilingual group. Thut integrated both musical elements and non-musical elements in his piece. His score instructs three performers to make percussive, ringing, and electronic sounds while three other performers play short high register pitches on their musical instruments according to written scores, particularly paying attention to the decay of sound in the subsequent silence. It also instructs parallel activities in between playing the sounds; walking around the space, and uttering monosyllabic words quietly in their own languages.
By going back and forth between these two activities – one with playing the sounds as a group, and the other with individual activities of their own – standing up, making a few steps, and saying a word, the ensemble created a unique openness in the music while each keeping their own contemplative individual experience as a component. Through this piece, Thut also demonstrated the idea that “something vanishing creates a state of pure attentiveness”, letting the performers and the listeners experience how the short sounds like hit, plucked, ringing or bowed sounds attribute a meaning to the silences before and after. These silences are soon getting replaced by something else – by the sounds from before, by the sounds in expectation, or by thoughts.