Interview: Yoko Ono & Hans Ulrich Obrist

Obrist and Ono are two of my favorite people. Hans Ulrich Obrist is an amazing contemporary curator who is highly influential to me. And Yoko Ono, is just, herself. So here is a gem I came across:

Mix a building and the wind

HANS ULRICH OBRIST:
Could you tell me a little about the early beginnings of instructions in your work?

YOKO ONO:
It started with music. I was trained as a musician since my pre-school years. My mother put me in a very special school called Jiyu-Gakuen in Japan, before I went to the elementary school. Jiyu-Gakuen, which translates as “Learning Garden of Freedom,” gave early musical training to pre-school children. We learnt perfect pitch, harmony, playing the piano, and composing simple songs. Some very famous Japanese composers came out of this school.

One of the most important things I learnt in that school, though I only knew how important it was in hindsight, was to listen to the sounds in ones’ own environment. We received homework in which you were supposed to listen to the sound of the day, and translate each sound into musical notes. This made me into a person who constantly translated the sounds around her into musical notes as a habit.

HANS ULRICH OBRIST:
The sounds of the city…

YOKO ONO:
The sounds of the city and the sounds of your life of that particular day. Then you had to transform that into musical notation. Isn’t that amazing?

HANS ULRICH OBRIST:
Really amazing. And that was a task in school?

YOKO ONO:
Yes, in the 1930s. It was an incredible idea. It was homework… to transform the sounds into notations. So in my childhood, I was always doing that in my mind. When the clock went ding, ding, ding, I repeated it in my mind afterwards. I did not count when the clock chimed, but after the chime stopped. That was what came naturally to me. In hindsight, it was a remarkably interesting exercise. The whole concept of transforming noise into notation, sounds like what was done by Cage, later…but it was just homework in a kindergarten for early musical training.

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Related Link: The Day I Met Yoko Ono

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