Mario Ramiro — Bruno Palazzo — Raquel Stolf — Fina Miralles — Marisa Pons — Kina Marull — Loreto Martinez Troncoso — Stuart Brisley — Milan Grygar
(On the magical dimension of sound, from the word to siren songs and radio waves)
“Sound is a charm, a binding of spells”
David Toop, Sinister Resonance.
“A Hermés se atribuye también en su mito la invención de la música y de la palabra (…) dios del aireo de los aires, (…) personificación de todos los demonios”
José Bergamin, La Importancia del Demonio.
According to a dictionary of magical words, ABABRA ABRAKAKRAKA is an ancient Babylonian term: this almost cacophonic sequence of syllables - which morphed into the well know term abracadabra,still used in magic shows nowadays - was written into house corners and on the bottom of bowls in the shape of a spiral. It served to capture demons who,entranced, were forced to read on and follow the text right to the centre of the spiral, where they were trapped.
Magical theories normally agree that magical praxis combines sounds, figures or gestures, and substances.Apart, of course, from other intangible requirements for magical action, such as will (faith?) or exercise and control of fantasy (and the phantasms it produces). Frequently, we find that simply through the appropriate use of sound and gesture - plus a hybrid form of the aforementioned - a magical action is possible. Such is the case of the Babylonian spiral.
According to Ioan P. Culianu, the magical dimension of sound “is subordinate to the theory of the natural origin of languages”,according to which the meaning of words is not arbitrary. Words, and the phonemes that form them, “stem from the occult language of the universal spirit, but the use we give them frequently does not match their original meaning.Conventional language is insufficient. To communicate an affect we must search:experimenting with voice, rhythm, babble, noise, distorting meaning, producing narratives. Hoping to find a string of sounds that has a specific weight within the magical operation, in the same way as a mineral or a plant would. A communicating sound, a sound to achieve: a beckoning call, one to link. An eye-opener(art), or an eye-closer (publicity).
Sound travels in air, and it is identified with this element and its immaterial, spiritual, quality.Words and music, as Bergamin says, are in air. Much like demons, who earned their ill fame by carrying messages that were not welcome in the solid world. “Kill the messenger”, so they say: and thus demons were demonized. Hence incorporeal sound is always an ill omen. In fact, incorporeal sound implies a gaze: someone, something, is looking at us; probably the other, probably about to leap.