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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Tham

Adventures in White : water mist fog

Updated: Feb 8


Graphic score made for a "listening wall" exhibit at 611 Alexander, SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, Vancouver.
Eye hear | I, ear : "Missing" (J Tham, Dec 2018)

What do we see, here?


White.

Silence.


I love white — the white of noise where many frequencies come together with equal intensity, same same but different. A lispy leaky white.


I love white-on-white, the trickster white that makes us look for something in the nothing.


I wrote some Adventures in White* for the SYC Ensemble Singers — water mist fog, for triple mixed octet. The SYC sing in canon and aleatoric clouds of sound, hiding each other in plain sight behind the cloak of sameness. The choir becomes invisible, a white rabbit in the snow.


Graphic score made for a "listening wall" exhibit at 611 Alexander, SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, Vancouver.
Eye hear | I, ear : "Secret" (J Tham, Dec 2018)


White is missing Black.


I love black — the black that scores and smudges whiteness with lines and dots and wedges and blocks. This blackness draws us in and out.


I love black-on-black, the black hole to infinity and beyond.


Here sounds Black.


A spot tentative.

A voice masked, sotto voce.


Listen. What do we hear, here?





I paired Black and its secrets with a score for performing listening, curious about the sound of assorted whites and Cage-an silences:


Score for performing listening, excerpt from the artist book Curious & Curiouser, J Tham, 2020.
Curious & Curiousear | "Listening – Sound capture #2" (J Tham, 2020)

What is the sound of white?


We need 9000 names for white, writes Glyn Maxwell, on the silences upon which poems are strung. We named the whiteness of 2020–2021 Pantone SARS-CoV-2, and used Black folders to defibrillate this flat-lining white—something to clock the deafening nothing.


New adventures in silence.


Game on.


Puck across the line;

split second, silence.


Score!**

The roar of the crowd.



—John Steil, 100 Red Haiku Tags



Can you hear our innards singing?



----------------------------------------------------


*Adventures in White was paused briefly by the Great Silence, circa March 13, 2020. Too much singing, COVID-19 Safe Management Measures said.


**Score! rehearsal excerpt (SYC, 26 September 2020, Esplanade Recital Studio).

Score! is all about the turning the pages of a score as silently as possible. Or not.

It was written for my home team, the SYC Ensemble Singers, and belongs to the choral theatre work Curious & Curiouser.












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