At bottom, the theory is this: if one goes to a concert and someone on stage doesn’t start messing around with the available materials for purposes of making noise, there won’t be much of a concert. That is enough theory for now – given the number of possible directions for further discussions, it’s probably best just to cut straight to the materials-at-hand-today, which are as follows: 1) a violin, 2) a card-board tube, 3) a means of electronic amplification and signal processing, and 4) performers. Each of these elements deserves a bit of commentary.
1) The violin brings with it a long history of performance practice, suave portability, wacky mythology, and proud repertoire (some of it wildly over-rehearsed). It also brings with it the possibilities and limitations of its construction: tunings and playing techniques based on fifths and strong tonal content; the sound of the bowed string; and a host of valuable extensions to its constructed purpose.
2) Cardboard (‘a generic, non-specific, lay term used to refer to any heavy
paper-pulp based board’) carries less readily identifiable performance overtones than the violin. Mr. Cossin has engineered it to sing.
3) The laptop has become fairly conventional hardware for musical perfor-
mance in the 21st century. It is used, among other things, for analyzing and editing audio input for recording, processing live sounds, or making sounds on its own for hordes of ecstatic dancers, and has risen to the musical scene in recent years.
4) And there are the performers, who bring with them all sorts of musical
extras, for better and for worse: mechanical habits of performance; relationships with music past and present; moods and preoccupations; predilections; prejudices; and (important in this sheet-music-free context) fallible and selective memories (a mix of the ability to forget and the inability to remember, such as audiences also have), guided and tricked by musical tones. All those things, and a desire to make sounds using the available materials.