Common Sounding
With field recordings by Theo van Soest and compositions by Moniek Darge, Alain Kremsky and Evan Ziporyn.

This week’s gathering of Radius is hosted live from Christian Nyampeta’s living room. This third session sketches out the sound as a habitation, while also being a “shared” measurement that gives a rhythm to our surrounding.

This architectural dimension of sound is channeled through a personal journey across the cultural history and the political implications of bells on our contemporary society. We will listen to proverbs about bells, field recordings provided by Theo van Soest of the Utrecht Bell Ringers Guild (Utrechtse Klokkenluiders Gilde) and compositions by Moniek Darge, Alain Kremsky and Evan Ziporyn.

Bells are composites of two withdrawn and opposing environments. In their state of metallic ores, bells inhabit the inner depth of the earth. Once transformed, bells are erected to the highest point of the habitat. The towering sound of the bell is an echo of the sedimentation of time. The metal of the bells is the resonance of the inner structure of the earth. The sound of the bell is the spirit of gravity, and a tremor of the earth that is lamenting an elusive loss. Perhaps a bell is the most characteristic sound of capital. The sound of the bell is an immensity of sorts. Bells are a density without weight.
Another rhythmic device is a drum. Whereas the manufacturing of an archetypical drum is a plastic and chirurgical process, crafting a bell is inevitably transformative undertaking that involves large displacement of the earth, substantial conversions through large quantities of energies and mechanical efforts undertaken on an industrial scale.
This verticality of the bell is indicative of the bell's importance as an instrument of governance. The commission and usage of a bell is through transmission: ropes, wheels, systems and mechanisms that already isolate the individual ringer from the commonplace environments and encounters.

Through this aptitude to broadcast, the bell played an important role in the making of a centralised time. Initially, the ringing of the bell was a monastic activity for time keeping. Later on, the bells became the transmissive device by which the rhythm of the everyday was regulated: trade, labour on the one hand, daily meals on the other, and juridical and civil events, religious announcements, alarms and festivities and so on.
The reach of the sound of the bell marked a territory. In some regions, communities were defined by their adherence to the rhythm of the bell. As a result, the chiming of the bell could map the political alliance of given geographies.

A new community bell is being developed in the context of New Habits at Casco in Utrecht. The community bell is cast using melted alms, collected over a period of time. Could these alms reverse the inherent verticality of a bell?
The exuberance of melting coin recuperates the commons, through reifying the immateriality of the general equivalence of capital into a common good. As the euro coins are the actual raw material of the bell, perhaps that the dissonance of the bell is the sonic equivalence of the defaced capital.

C - N