Constant Music

Constant Music is a series of impromptu musical performances in the Fontaine de Lieben, located in the Kooiplein in Leiden (NL). I use the fountain’s pipes as percussion instruments by playing them with felt mallets, which allows me to get deep ringing sounds while keeping the integrity of the structure. Neighbours and passers-by hear and see the performance as it happens inside the fountain, which is meant as an invitation for the audience to join me in the creation of musical sound in any way they wish. Each round of performance lasts approximately 20 minutes.

The goal of this project is to use music in the public space as a vehicle for interaction and mutual learning. This is, of course, a well-known practice. However, this project differs from similar ‘artistic interventions’ in that it does not rely on instrumental rationality. In other words, it is not meant to be a useful tool for anything nor does it aim to solve, or contribute to solve, any problem in particular (say, social interaction issues in De Kooi). Differently, a core conviction behind this project is that focusing on problems is not the only way to deal with them. I believe that, sometimes, intense communication and action around them limits artistic freedom and boosts unhealthy patterns of symbolic interaction, such as cultural patronising and ideological proselytism. My agenda is much less complex. The sole ambition that quickens these performances is to make music and, in the process, hopefully learn something from those who wish to interact with me. Put differently, the point is not to facilitate interaction through music ‘for them’ – for the community of De Kooi. Instead, the idea is to make this interaction possible ‘for me’ in the first place, because I am interested in what is going on around the Kooiplein. Thus, I approach the community in hopes of bringing about meaningful relationships. With their approval, I come to De Kooi to listen carefully as I play, to learn as I share. In this spirit of dialogue, the project may be said to be ‘for us’.