Excerpts from the 25 page interview “Between Music and Biodynamic Agriculture” included with the CD:
Charles Sepos: Part of the proceeds from the sale of this CD go to non-profit Biodynamic Institutions, so anyone buying this CD is contributing not only to music but also to Biodynamic agriculture in the US. You are creating thereby a surprising link between music and agriculture! (…) But is there such a link? For they usually appear as a dichotomy, like science and spirituality, or spirit and matter.
Brigitte Armenier: But what is our purity of intention in the sphere of knowledge? Is nature merely a larder or a pharmacy? Is music merely a source of likes and dislikes? At best!... Is this greed that looks to “make use of” how we approach beings we want to know? Is this to be the foundation of our theory of knowledge? We have inherited from the nineteenth century a very materialistic, mechanistic and atomistic approach to and understanding of the living world. The problem is that this vision actually originated from the study of the inorganic world. (…) Cold processes of analysis and breakdown of mechanisms. (…) So, the study of the protein for example will bring its breakdown into the basic elements of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulfur. Or the single note into its series of overtones.
Charles Sepos: And these analyses are true.
Brigitte Armenier: Yes they are, but as corpses are true to living bodies! The breakdown of the protein is actually a decomposition process since we first have to kill it in order to study it. And you won’t recreate life by bringing back together the elements found! In the living realm, the whole organizes itself in parts while, paraphrasing the quantum physicist David Bohm, fragmentation doesn’t bring us back to wholeness and life. As for our single note, what happened to the counter-series of undertones? I know that Paul Hindemith wrote about them in his Treatise on Composition: “I consider it absurd to admit the existence of a force capable of producing a mirrored arrangement of the partial series. Such a force would suspend the efficacy of the force of gravity which expresses itself in the series of overtones. (…) No evidence is found in nature for an apparent mirroring of the series of overtones.” No evidence in nature? What’s true is that a mineral is subject to gravity only. But living plants aren’t minerals: after the “gravity gesture,” the downward gesture of the roots directed towards the centre of the earth, all plants grow in the opposite direction, showing “levity,” an upward gesture. As Dr. Bott wrote: “Newton arrived intuitively at the idea of gravity on seeing the apple fall, but he does not seem to have asked himself about the no less mysterious matter of how the apple reached the end of the branch.”… Or are we asked to still believe that living plants do not belong to nature since nature is to be grasped only through its manifestations of death? Or that an “objective” study of tone is allowed to skip parts of what actually happens in space? But then again, although many levels of analysis can result from a piece of music, yet no tonal piece was ever born solely out of analytical theory!
Charles Sepos: So, if we consider agriculture and music as part of the living sphere which you presented as “a becoming woven throughout movements and forms”…
Brigitte Armenier: Yes! Now, Charles, we have what you will allow me to consider as a “valuable” angle of study, that is, what for example the philosopher Pierre Hadot, in the continuity of Goethe, has brought us back from his researches on ancient Greek philosophy: “le regard d’en haut,” or the “vision from above.” For when and where there is life, we can always observe a living web of movements in time and forms in space. When I say “time,” I am not talking about our usual linear representation of it, for again, this is reductionist and dead. But of time which is actually lived, that is to say, this permanent simultaneity, this contraction of past, present and future, yet expanded in its differentiation. As already described by Wolfgang Schad, the living time-sequence of a plant is not the mechanical succession of the four apparent stages: germination, vegetative plant, bloom, formation of fruit and seed. It is an always transitional state of being which includes, within each qualitative space of its own, some of the characteristics of the past metamorphoses and of the ones to come. When the bloom in its present shows the flower corolla, at the same time the vision of the past is offered in the formation of the sepal and the vision of the future in the formation of the stamen and pistil, the latter becoming, during the generative processes, the past of the fruit which shows its future in the formation of the seed… or the laws of movement, acting from outside inwards and perceived in the processes of growth and metamorphosis.
Charles Sepos: Do you see the same phenomenon in music?
Brigitte Armenier: Actually this qualitative gesture of time embodies the very essence of music with the melodic process. For a melody is not a linear and dead succession of audible notes. Our experience tells us that there is a link between them! To be heard in the interval, a physically non-audible transformative force which reveals, from outside inwards, the secret logic of each note. When thus linked up with one another, the 7 basic notes flow into the divine thread, the legato of the scales. They flow and grow into the horizontal melodic lines.
Charles Sepos: I perceive a connection between agriculture and the sense of vision, and music and the sense of hearing. And I perceive a polarity between agriculture and music, between vision and hearing. Is it possible to bring a common language to bear on both of them?
Brigitte Armenier: Out of the kingdoms of life, nowhere else do we find such a profusion of forms than in the plant kingdom. For this is how their silent language sounds, vibrates. And regarding music, Novalis wrote in his Fragments: “Whoever sees musical sound, movements, etc. within himself, his soul is plastic, for the variety of sounds and movements only arises through figuration.” Therefore between plants and music, our journey might be an invitation to develop a “feeling in form,” born out of movement.
Charles Sepos: Can you demonstrate this using the music on this CD?
Brigitte Armenier: I’m not sure I feel very confident with this terminology, but yes, we could maybe consider the first two and half minutes of it, that is, the first two and half minutes of Schubert’s sonata which unfold the whole of its first theme. What do we hear? As opening phrase, a very contained melody of total internal meditation. A sort of inner journey, contemplative, which flows along a “molto moderato” pulse. Not the strong affirmation of a physical force—it does not even reach the Dominant which would bring an outward tension—but rather an expressive gesture of humility out of which the vast time proportions of the first movement will unfold. At the end of this opening phrase, the left hand falls all of a sudden an octave lower and the G-flat trill seems to drag us down toward a suspended center. G-flat being quite a distant key from our B-flat root key, this major-third descent has intensified the inward gesture of the melody… leading us to the mysterious experience of silence. Now, art is not the reproduction or illustration of any sort of physical perception, but rather a tangible expression of inner vision, of spiritual insight. Its language conveys aspects of the unseen, of the physically non-audible. What this opening phrase actually reveals is the drawing gesture of a force of contraction, of preservation and concentration of the energy. Acting from outside inwards, it has led us to the density and apparent inertia of silence. In nature, an expression of this force will be found for example with wheat. Erdmut Hoerner did a wonderful study on this. Following this plant through time, he describes how the main unfolding of it, actually the roots, stays hidden unseen in the earth, these roots simply reflecting in their downward verticality the forces of gravity of their environment. A similar gesture of renunciation for any sort of loud and outer affirmation characterizes also the stem, leaves and flower. The stem is hollow but not empty: full of air, it reflects the air and its forces of lightness. Just think that the ratio of diameter to height can reach 1 to 600, with the weight of the ear on top! As for the leaves, they reflect their environment of light and warmth: similar to the sun’s rays, they adopt the form and direction of isosceles triangles. Finally, wheat has no fully developed flower, it blooms for fifteen minutes only and there is no insect pollination: a very contained melody indeed… leading to the grain and its journey to maturity, from milky state toward a continuous process of mineralization and drying. For death comes up from the earth and will finally reach the ear. And the grain, now isolated from its environment and seemingly dead, has already entered the mysterious dimension of silence.