All the world’s most famous illustrations of creativity seem to ride on one ephemeral event: Newton is hit on the head with an apple, Archimedes steps into a bath, Paul McCartney scrambles some eggs and accidentally writes Yesterday in the process. Whether the anecdotes themselves are true is beside the point. They all belie a lifetime of rigorous training, study and thought that gave tinder to the spark.
The Towards Sound Festival brings together live performances, an exhibition and talks to offer insight into the creative processes of musicians living in Berlin. Different artists’ methods are distinct, vulnerable, fascinating and, most importantly, offer much more inspiration to aspiring and practicing musicians than the contents of a Beatles’ breakfast ever will.
On March 9, Colin Roche opens the festival with Les Livres des Nombres, a durational performance in which the beat of the composer’s pulse is combined with the amplified sound of his compositional process. Audience members are invited one by one to sit across from him at work and through headphones, intimately experience both the mental and physical process of creativity.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday continue in a similarly enlightening vein with live interactions between artist and audience in the pursuit of musical innovation. Bertrand Chavarría-Aldrete shares his open poetry process in Cansos, a guitar, vocal, and electronic performance. Elsewhere, Lucía Hinojosa Gaxiola presents Synchrony (or language as a living system). Hinojosa Gaxiola performs her writings on the politics of breath and her concept of a “breathing earth” while connected to an echocardiogram, aka a lie detector. Over two readings, these visual fluctuations form the source material from which different artists will re-interpret her spoken word musically.
The closing day of the festival is dedicated to concerts and the final form of the creative musical processes that came before. But, even on a packed day, the pick is surely Atefeh Einali. Her piece Give Me My Voice Back combines a solo for santoor – an Iranian classical instrument – with video footage from the first protest following the 1979 revolution, after which women were banned from public performance.
All in all, the Towards Sound Festival is a celebration of the intense variety of the creative process. It offers a rare peek into those physical and mental assemblages of creation that are ultimately obscured in the final pieces and a source of boundless inspiration for musicians across Berlin.
Towards Sound Festival HilbertRaum, Neukölln, March 9–13