Causal Introduction

It exists in our planet, musical systems that do not communicate. In fact, all the musical systems of our planet do not communicate. Music is not a universal language like many people think: human beings first, should have this desire of universal communication, and this is not the case. The fear of differences is deep-rooted. The will for power on others is deep-rooted too. Music is used more for tribal recognition (cultures, races, social layers, generations, etc.) than it has a so-called “civilizing influence" or it "soothes the savage breast": where did this strange idea comes from? Perhaps from the people of the upper classes who enjoy lounge baroque music? The one made to entertain kings without offending their ears. To have a real communication among musical systems, strangers have to understand their respective cosmogonical myths. The cosmogonical myth is essential to have a life representation: without it, we would be unable to live. Non-Western concepts are based on other cosmogonical myths than the Western one: understanding representation of time, original life pattern, metaphysical values, etc., each civilization had a different myth and this is synthesized in the culture and through a foreign language. It is more difficult to understand a cosmogonical myth concept than its language, the language allows us to live together more than to understand each other, but it is a communication tool. The cosmogonical myth is the ground for religions to grow up. Belief gives us the will to live and in a second hand it is also a barrier for growing intelligence: a human life paradox.

I had interesting experiences in Bali (I, as a Biblical European Model with a Hindu Islander Model). To know about Balinese music, I red a book from a Western ethnomusicologist. His Balinese musical explanation with Western tools had nothing to do with the Balinese musical system explained by a Balinese musician. Another situation, where I was enthusiastic to play my Turkish clarinet with a Gamelan musician: he was polite, he played two minutes but in which degree of interest? Another example with a Balinese musician playing flute in a ricefield, we played a duo separated by a long distance (about several miles), a performance where farmers stopped working and became the audience of this improvised concert.

In spite of the ethnomusicological effort to transcribe music from outside Western civilization with classical Western musical notation system (conceived for our major mode and its alterations), instead of trying to understand these cultures with their own tools and beliefs, can we suppose that it is to include outside Western musical practice in Western musical system to prove its (illusory) universality? A leftover unconscious colonialist practice? It is hard to understand this useless translation work. Is the work of the ethnomusicology not made for foreign musical systems to communicate between themselves? And the musical systems of our planet are still not in reciprocal understanding.

John Blacking criticized this musicological ethnocentrism, which is unfortunately still in practice today. It seems that these ethnomusicologists as “neo White Fathers” work more to appropriate the foreign cultures to enrich the Western culture? To fill Western libraries of inappropriate translated knowledge? What is the purpose of these life government employees work? I think about the members of the John Blacking Foundation I met in 1996.

I am not interested about the record industry attempts to make African (not Asian?) music a pop Western music. I am not interested in misunderstood plundering of non Western cultures. But some cultural musical blend can be considered as a success particularly in jazz music when it creates another sound of music. I am really interested in cultural mixtures to create another sound of music and why not, a new musical genre.

The Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra’s aim is to blend different musical practices in a huge symphonic orchestra:
The work is more difficult than it should be, by meeting lot of resistances from different sides. I am thinking about the Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra of Quebec where I wanted the participation of the local Amerindians: White people were aggressively against this project. I am thinking about the Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra of Brazil where musicians were waiting to be paid before playing. I am thinking about the Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra of Paris where the disdainful lack of concern because of the “non commercial aspect of a philanthropic project”. I am thinking about the Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra of Toulouse where people have a lack of goodwill to perfect a work and are not concerned with cultural exchange. I even did not try to create a Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra of Bali because a possibility of a trans-culturality seems to be impossible: Bali is an island where every foreigner wants to appropriate it. Balinese people fought to keep their culture untouched by the invaders: it is inside the dreamer in Bali.

Local cultures are impregnated with wrong ideas about outside cultures, because outside cultures do not matter, except in case of commercial exchanges when it offers objects of everyone’s desire. It is why the Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestra is composed mostly of people who travel, or emigrants, or local people who desire this exchange. Exchange is the first demonstration of intelligence.


Extract from “sound’s highness, a problem of elevation” [1991]
« 1.3.1. Without our Western conception of a LINEAR TIME, Fourier would never found his theory about the complex wave decomposition in an ensemble of sine waves. In the spectrogram, the spectrum representation of stacked sine waves are symbolized by “lines” (for the convenience?). We would never confuse the symbolization of percept (la symbolisation du perçu) as obvious, with what our imagination perceives.

1.3.2. Without our Western conception of a LINEAR TIME, our description of pitch (sound’s highness) above, would be a non sense. For other non Western cultures not based on linear time conception, a stacking of straight lines for a sound is a non sense. »


Today’s music is commissioned by advertisers to be unicultural. Therefore, how in our context of closing mind and media terror can we create trans-cultural music?


Outcome Consequences

The exchange of musical languages:
Here, syn-phônê does not mean the musical form symphony which is an enhancement of the sonata form, but why not? We are not here to impose an execution or to kill somebody, but to share, to exchange, and in the best case, to blend our musical differences. A good knowing of each musical practice is necessary to extract the most touching and sensitive sounds in our trans-cultural syn-phônê context. Time conception of everybody, basics of all cosmogonical myths and all musical systems, are enhanced in the global process of the syn-phônê. In this case, the composition could not be unitemporal, like most unicultural music today written with quantitative symbols of our Western musical notation. There is no orchestral score, in the Western meaning, I prefer to give it to machines. 100 different very varied acts, making their own way, are connected or disconnected in the orchestral network conglomeration, in order to become a rhizome-form.

I’m using musical writing to not forget, not for publishing, and musicians participate in this fight against oblivion. As composer I will couple, mate different instrumental practices: from the duo to the orchestral tutti (from 2 to 100 different musical practices at the same time), proceed by combinatory. I will propose “remarkable identities” to everybody according to their particular knowledge. I will never leave the musician alone in her/his technique, because her/his technique has to be open and ready to connect and blend with others. The rhythm, the melody, the chords, and the inflexions will be proceed in the Syn-phônê NO8 context.

Musical modus:
The global form of the Syn-phônê NO8, will be based on rhizome structure, a huge interconnected network (factorial 100 ! = 9.33262 . 10157) with inputs and outputs, with connections and disconnections, with frozen areas, accumulations and dispersion, etc., we will touch the infinity continuously growing to death: the zero level energy space. In this perception we will listen: dynamical contrasts from nothing to pain with suspense and elevation sinking frozen states with strange sounds from storm to serene clarity, as unexpected nomadic waves exploiting the elementary rhythm of Matter to create unknown music.

Work method:
When the Berliner Transkulturell Syn-phônê Orkester will be completed, it means 100 musicians from different musical cultures, I will hear exactly the sound of the orchestra. It is at this moment that the music of the Syn-phônê NO8 will be conceived with maps, lines of sounds, etc.: then exciting moments of rehearsals. I wish for the Syn-phônê NO8, more time to work with the Berliner Transkulturell Syn-phônê Orkester: contrarily to the first ephemeral projects of one day.

Conducting huge orchestras with artists from all cultures, to play a music, free of Western constraints, has always been my passion. A trans-cultural orchestra where musicians play together their individualities to feel free in a mass of friends: wow! A unique experience, to play its identity in a huge multicultural mass of people. It is very heavy to pull a huge orchestra, and to pull a huge orchestra in floating Times out of the mechanical Western way to reconnect with emotional uncertainty principles (the beauty and richness are in hesitation in our world where nothing is sure) is lighter! I love to provoke the complexity and play loud with it in the silence complex. I created the Trans-Cultural Syn-phônê Orchestras to make different cultures of sound cohabit, as an Unheard Music Blender. I will compose and conduct an original music of approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

Mathius Shadow-Sky
January 24, 2007

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