Sounding the Edge of the World
- millenial sharing -
1st January 2000 at 14.00
Le Bout du Monde, near Nolay, Côte d'Or.
At least fifty people came together to celebrate with a special music made
with nine falling water resonating devices and four encapsulators.
The FWRDs were held under the waterfall in a predetermined sequence,
starting with one at a time, progressing to duos and trios. There followed
a free sequence culminating in all nine being sounded together.
The weather was mild, allowing us to stand around and savour the special moment
without getting cold or breaking limbs on ice! (The photos showing icicles
were taken at a trial session earlier in December. Photos of the actual event
will appear here in the next few weeks.) The recent storms that had swept
France had made little impact on the Bout Du Monde except that there was a
massive amount of water falling down the cascade. The sound of this dominated
the sound of the instruments. On the one hand this made the music more difficult
to hear as a spectator, but on the other hand it made direct participation
essential and made each person's experience more secret and unique.
It was difficult to judge in advance how quickly the vibrations would spread
around the world, but reports received later by post from the Brittany coast
indicated a perceptible tremble by the end of the same day, January 1st.
Anyone reading this who has evidence of the vibrations reaching further afield
is invited to get in touch with the
BRITTANY: "Le chant des pierres et la grande voix de la mer . . . . les vibrations du Bout du Monde arrivent jusqu' à nous et on les entendra longtemps au fond des coquillages . . ."
C. et G. F. 01.01.00
CHELMSFORD, MASSACHUSETTS, USA: " I'm not sure what the time difference would have been, but I'm sure I felt something of the vibrations on New Year's Day.
It made me smile." J.B. 17.01.00
The following document was used to explain the event in advance:
Every thousand years, ever since people have been counting in tens, groups have been gathering at this spot to share their wishes for the future and to celebrate the present in quiet contemplation.
If you follow the river Cozanne upstream from the town of Nolay you pass under a railway viaduct. On both sides, further up the hillside are vine yards, but by the river and the road are pastures and copses of mixed woods. Above the vines is an imposing cliff, and after you pass through the village of Vauchignon, rocky outcrops close in on you giving no hint of a way through. It's true, there is no easy way through without scrambling up rough paths. But for the river there was an easy option. Reaching the edge of the cliff it simply flung itself over, crashing down on to the rocks 50 metres below.
Archaeologists have long been aware of the existence of shards of pottery tubes and splinters of slate at this site. Previously these were interpreted as evidence of 18th and 19th century bourgeois housing in the area (peasants' houses all had thatched or stone roofs), but now a new chemical analysis has revealed the pottery to be Provencal in provenance and the slate Welsh. In parallel, carbon dating techniques used on wooden remains found alongside the slate and pottery have produced a startling diversity of dates which cluster around each previous new millenium, going back as far as 8000 BC (i.e. almost as far as the last ice age). With this new evidence, it has now been posited that a neolithic, pre-Celtic cultural link existed right across Europe and that the remains are actually an early form of tuned sound making device that was used in millenial rites. This also helps explain the positioning of the holes in the materials, and indeed the shapes, which had always been a problem in the roofing explanation.
In August you could hardly say crashing, because the flow is reduced to a few drips that trickle through a bed of moss on the cliff face before floating down to the river bed, and then somehow reconstitute themselves into a flowing stream within a few metres. You must be centimetres away before you can hear or even see these drips. After heavy rain though, you can understand how in even more turbulent times, the waters undercut the cliff to make a spectacular overhang. And in midwinter the cliff can be covered with beautiful icicles that produce their own drips and patterns, or at extreme times it can even become a solid column of ice. A weak sun has little effect on this sheltered spot.
The form of ritual instrument reconstructed here shows the mutual dependency
that had already developed between the northern and southern extremities of
Europe. At that time the Welsh had slate, a useful percussive musical material,
but had no means of making a resonating tube. The latter was supplied by the
relatively advanced ceramic techniques of southern Europe, to dramatic and lasting
effect, as we now know.
I've loved this spot ever since I first went there seven years ago, and have
often thought it would make an interesting site for a music and sound sculpture
event. And, of course, I have long had an interest and involvement with instruments
that use water. But a site specific event must have more than one reason to
give it resonance, and this has come from the idea of a quiet celebration of
the millenium. For me the millenium is neither religious nor ecstaticly exciting,
but nevertheless it stimulates a heightened awareness of both past and future.
So I have made nine special instruments which are sounded by placing them under
the falling waters. They consist of a piece of slate mounted over a pottery
tube, and held with a long shaft. I invite you to join me on January 1st and
help make a special music by holding these instruments so that they are sounded
by the cascade.
It is believed that the Bout Du Monde, lieing just below the watershed between the Mediterranean (middle of the earth) and the Atlantic (lost continent) was chosen for its special energy derived from a cascade being so near to the source of a stream. It was this energy which was thought to have given the stream its capacity to carry the vibrations emanating from the slate and pottery through the water right down to the Mediterranean and then to the oceans of the world.
What remains a mystery, and a problem for cosmologists as much as archaeologists, is how it is that 8,000 years before the birth of Christ and the development of christianity as the dominant belief system in Europe the ancient people were able to calculate with such accuracy the timing of each new millenium.
Of course it will probably be cold, so the event will last no more than half an hour, and afterwards we invite you to share soup and mulled wine with us!
All text and sounds on this site © copyright Will Menter unless otherwise stated.
Images © copyright Will Menter, Jane Norbury, Annie Menter