Sivuoja-Gunaratnam, Anne

2003

Desire and Distance in Kaija Saariaho's Lonh

Organised Sound: Vol. 8 no. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 71-84.

URL: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_OSO

Language(s): English

Keyword(s):

Analysis Socio-Cultural Aspects of Electroacoustic Music Mixed Work

Abstract:

This article explores the relationship of desire and distance in Kaija Saariaho’s Lonh (1996) for soprano and electronics. The subject matter of Lonh is desire and romantic pleasures, anchored to feminine subjectivity, represented on stage by a soprano singer. Electronics provide the environmental sounds and amplify the singer’s voice. Through Lonh looms a medieval song in the Occitan language, ‘Lanquan li jorn son lonc en mai’ by Jaufré Rudel, a famous troubadour in twelfth-century Provence. Saariaho reverses the narrative convention of love stories by presenting the most intimate encounter at the very beginning. In their succeeding encounters, the lovers move further away from each other. Similarly, in the course of Lonh the distance to Jaufré’s song also increases. Luce Irigaray’s concepts of love are used for an analysis of the relationship of the loving pair. By the end of Lonh the borderlines of speaking, singing, electronics, language and music collapse in Barthesian jouissance (bliss). The electronic technology in Lonh enables the re-investiture of cultural values, and the construction of flexible identities, crossing boundaries between the self and the other.