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Aurality :: Marrow performance for self-built stone instrument, field recordings, DIY electronics, voice and hybrid modular synthesiser

developed during a micro-residency at ROTA festival / AADK Spain & premiered at ROTA festival Murcia SP Nov. 2021
In dialog with Ursula K. Le Guin‘s poem The Marrow, in which a stone cries its words aloud and one's marrow replies, the performance aurality :: marrow is an intent to open a dialog with the mineral realm in relation, to hear the rock’s point of view and investigate with a critical and cosmological approach human’s relations to the mineral.
Continuing the Aurality research, performance and composition series on aural ecologies, aurality :: marrow listens to the voice of the ores - from within the electronics we use on a daily basis and from within our own ecosystem as they regulate of our body functions -, to the echoes from foraged mountains in our Anthropocenic landscape and to the resonances from deep below the earth to astral bodies high above our heads.

It grew off a field research in the landscape of the Baetic Mountain Ranges where it opened up a dialog with “the still less communicative, still more passive holy atemporal cold volcanic poetry of the rocks, each one a word spoken how long ago by the earth itself, in the immense solitude the immenser community of space.” (Le Guin). Along the way, the encounter with Sarah Jones’s essay Silver/Lead, one of forty mineral recompositions commissioned by A Published Event for Lost Rocks (2017-21), proved to be deeply influencial.

︎ disclaimer: unfortunatly due to a technical issue the ROTA concert was recorded in mono - theoriginal performance was purposely and happily in stereophony as you can hear in the Beatics report below

... to get to the Earth’s mantle, they must first pass through the Mohorovicic discontinuity, what they call the Moho. Scientists and geologists don’t know what the Moho is. They only know it exists because anything that pass through it, changes. The Moho is not something in itself, it is only the possibility for change.

We have crawled under the Earth’s skin. She is holding us sofly against the weather. The further we go, rising slightly with the adit, the warmer and quieter it gets. My footsteps compete with my heartbeat in my ears. I think I can hear the mountain’s in-breath that must last a hundred years.

The Marrow

There was a word inside a stone.
I tried to pry it clear,
mallet and chisel, pick and gad,
until the stone was dropping blood,
but still I could not hear
the word the stone had said.
I threw it down beside the road
among a thousand stones
and as I turned away it cried
the word aloud within my ear
and the marrow of my bones
heard, and replied.

At the top of the hill in the swollen darkness every star is a wineglass cracking in the boiling water of the black sky. Every star is a millionth of a second, a pinging so high pitched it suggests a frequency of a hairline fracture that is too delicate to be accompanied by real sound. We are all soft looks so as not to break those tiny stars, as we patchwork the hard ground with the blankets we share. We grow steadily silent, waiting in the darkness on the razor’s edge of the quartz beneath us as the hill holds his breath for eons.

In huge caverns closer to the surface, underground rock crushers smash the ore into smaller pieces. Rubik’s Cubes of galena go to the surface in trucks via a spiral access tunnel. Above ground the rocks are crushed again. The finely ground ore dust is covered in water in Jameson flotation cells and the parts are separated from the whole. The lead, the silver, and the strange unwanted tailings spread out in the water. They add chemicals and then air - lead sulphide particles stick to the tiny bubbles and a thick poisonous froth forms on the surface of the flotation tank’s cells. The froth is skimmed from the surface and dried, at this point it is seventy percent lead. Then they heat it and cool it. It gets colder in increments, at each stage something else is taken from its soupy form; some trace copper and eventually some silver. Hot and then cold, hot and then cold as if in a highly irregular elliptical orbit around the flame. This is how comets live and die; their sparkling tales are made of melting as they pass to close to the burning stars. The more beautiful the strike, the more damage is done.

Sitting at the table, there is a choice of two views. You can look out and under the roof line at the towering bulk of the mountain, or you can look directly into the beginning of the universe.

special thanks to my aural family in Blanca: Elena Azzedin, Abraham Hurtego (Al de La Algaida) & Selu Herraiz and the AADK Spain team. To the geologist Ulises Lobón Martin for his introduction to the Beltics and to his methodology - as Le Guin would said: scientists explicit, poets implicit. Texts: The Marrow by Ursula K. Le Guinn / Excerpts from Silver/Lead by Sarah Jones