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Score for Symphonie Monoton-Silence [Monotone-Silence Symphony], 1947-1961

  • Score for Symphonie Monoton-Silence [Monotone-Silence Symphony]
    Print and pen on paper
This composition is divided into two parts. First, a unique sound, continuous, then an equivalent time of silence, the sound part preparing the listener to transform the experience of silence into fullness. This diptych is the exact transposition of the articulation between the visible and the invisible. Monotony is the conceptual and sonic equivalence of pictorial monochromy.

"During this period of concentration, I created, around 1947–1948, a monotone symphony whose theme expresses what I wished my life to be.
This symphony of forty minutes duration (although that is of no importance, as one will see) consisted of one unique continuous sound, drawn out and deprived of its beginning and of its end, creating a feeling of vertigo and of aspiration outside of time. Thus even in its presence, this symphony does not exist. It exists outside of the phenomenology of time because it is neither born nor will it die, after existence. However, in the world of our possibilities of conscious perception, it is silence – audible presence."
Yves Klein, excerpt from « Overcoming the problematics of Art », 1959, Overcoming the problematics of Art -The writings of Yves Klein, Spring Publications, 2007

"The symphony originally lasted forty minutes. [Laughter] It was precisely that long to demonstrate the desire to conquer time. The opening and the ending of this sound was cut, which provoked a variety of strange sonorous phenomenon that exhaled sensibility. Effectively having neither a beginning nor an end that is in the least perceptible, this symphony was freed from the phenomenology of time, becoming something outside of the past, present, and future, since in all it knew neither birth nor death, meanwhile existing in sonorous physical reality."
Yves Klein, excerpt from « Lecture at The Sorbonne », 1959, Overcoming the problematics of Art -The writings of Yves Klein, Spring Publications, 2007

"A flute player one day began to play only a single and unique continuous sound. Having done so for more than twenty years, his wife finally pointed out to him that other flute players have produced many harmonic and melodic sounds, etc., and that this was all the same perhaps more interesting and varied. To this the monotone flute player replied that it was not his fault that he had found the note for which the others were still in the process of searching!"
Yves Klein, excerpt from « The Monochrome Adventure: the monochrome epic », 1960, Overcoming the problematics of Art -The writings of Yves Klein, Spring Publications, 2007

"Silence … This is really my symphony and not the sounds during its performance. This silence is so marvelous because it grants happenstance and even sometimes the possibility of true happiness, if only for only a moment, for a moment whose duration is immeasurable."
Yves Klein, excerpt from « Truth becomes Reality », 1960, Overcoming the problematics of Art -The writings of Yves Klein, Spring Publications, 2007
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