By Pat Lynch
The 2nd of three events in the Bio Rhythm exhibition currently running at the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin featured Gavin and BP Fallon amongst a cast of music psychologists, therapists and fellow musicians to explore and discuss the relations we have with music. And specifically for the first half of the evening, that effect of music on our emotions. Is music driven by emotion or is it emotion that creates the music? Scientists and musicians discuss!
With a selection of audience members linked up to monitors that measured and displayed the bodies physical reacting to a piece of music the scene was set. The role of music was analysed and debated by the panel in the human response to music from foetus to adult with Gavin and BP often, respectfully, dissociating themselves from the panel’s more scientific views and conclusions.
Gavin’s performances bookended the first half of the event. Resurrecting his interpretation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 40 was a welcome opportunity for those of us who missed out on the Stratford debut. Along with Kate Ellis on cello the performance soared and moved on many levels. The panel and audience reaction was enthusiastic, with some members of the audience agreeing that they hear and see performances in colours and that hearing the Shakespeare sonnet performed in this way evoked passionate reds for them. Gavin’s response: “You should see where I live.” Similarly fiddle player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh shared the place that music brings him during performance to the pot holes on the country roads he magically escapes to while Kate conceded that she totally blanks her mind to bring her to another place.
In delivery, structure, arrangement and length, Gavin’s second piece took on some of the influence of Rzewski’s “Coming Together” which he performed with Gavin Bryars and the Crash Ensemble some years back. Kicking off with the popular theme from Coronation Street while footage of Princess Diana’s funeral mass played on the screen, Gavin – in compelling full performance mode – hunched over a table, narrated in a mix of theatre and spoken word the minute actions of an older lady obsessing manically over her mirror and spectacles. As the piece breaks for more of Kate’s emotive playing aided by a backing track Gavin flies with the character through different stages of her surrender and dislocation. This lost soul soon becomes recognisable as the housewife in ‘Kitchen Sink Drama’ only here she is more demented and at her very own end of the world, as Gavin – now alternating between a mic in each hand – gives voice to various strands of her subconscious over snatches of ‘Lonely Girl’ and Skeeter Davis’ ‘The End of The World’. Keeping with the evening’s theme its emotional punch does truly transport us to another time and place. Indeed to another world. As with the best of Gavin’s performances its effect lingers long after the audience has borne witness.
This brought Gavin’s involvement in the evening to a close. The second half was much more a case for the head over heart with a more experimental foray into the mechanics of sound, although local vibe master BP Fallon brought it back to heart and bones with a spoken word performance of his recent single, ‘I Believe in Elvis’ where in no uncertain terms he challenged the very notion of Fame. Apt closer for the evening went to the exquisite fiddle playing of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaig that uniformly seemed to bring everyone to a more peaceful and serene place. All in all the tug of music on the heartstrings triumphed over the theory when it came to the power of music to affect us. Which is just as should be.
Seen at the Science Gallery, Dublin. 16th Sept 7-10pm
With Gavin Friday, BP Fallon, Kate Ellis, Ben Knapp (SARC) with Biomuse Trio, Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh and Mike McCready (Music Xray), hosted by Gerry Godley.