Both Sitting Duet (2002, 35 minutes)
Both Sitting Duet was the first duet made by Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion. It has been performed hundreds of times in many different countries, venues and contexts, and the two artists continue to perform it regularly today. They way they describe it is that despite many performances, the piece never quite arrives. There's always something that seems to be about to make sense in the gap between the written score and what they're doing. This makes the piece seem always new at the point of performance.
The principle behind the making of Both Sitting Duet was - 'Counterpoint assumes a love between the parts'.
Both Sitting Duet is a direct translation, note for note and bar for bar, of the violin and piano piece For John Cage by the American composer Morton Feldman (1926 - 1987).
The translation was made from the score of the music, and no recordings were listened to while the piece was being made. Both Sitting Duet borrows, therefore, the structure but not the atmosphere of the original.
The piece is performed sitting down, in silence. The choice to sit down was made in order that the two performers, one a composer and the other a choreographer, could be seen either as musicians or as dancers.
The material is mainly built up of hand and arm gestures. The principle for finding these gestures was 'to accept what came easily'.
The speed of the performance begins at the metronome marking of the original music, 120 beats a minute, but speeds up two thirds of the way through.
You will find here copies of both performer's scores, one written in classical musical notation and the other as a series of written numbers. These scores are placed at the feet of the performers and read throughout the performance.
In addition to the formal means of the structure, the performance is also mediated by a series of principles for performance, which include: 'how the audience sits is how we should sit', 'how we feel is how we behave', and 'there are no mistakes'.
© Burrows&Fargion 2023