The Emerging Voice of ‘Michasis’

It began as a playful seated debate between two performers, but in this case, no words were used. Only sounds. Deep inhales, excited chirps, gasps, guttural shouts, rapid clicks, and high-pitched babbling were paired with waggling tongues and bulging eyes in a back-and-forth-exchange. 

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photo by Yota Morimoto

With a strict command of speech tonalities and vocal pressure, their utterances bounced from deep gregorian-sounding resonances swooping to high pitched squeals, nearly physically impossible for the vocal chamber of a female. It was so bizarre that many in the audience weren’t sure what to do with themselves other than laugh at a few tense moments.

With an evening premiere at the Nutshuis foretold to leave audiences breathless, Greek artists Michalis Paraskakis and Thanasis Deligiannis made good on their promise. Performing their piece under the name ‘Michasis’ the sound of which in Greek refers to a phrase that could be translated as “don’t miss (it)” as well as a combination of their first names, Paraskakis and Deligiannis gave the audience an experimental insight into language as music, or the music of speech. By the end of their performance during  the Japanese Greek evening (Hoogtij #40) at the Nutshuis I was laughing so hard I began crying.

The piece was shaped in “games”; five duets during which very simple rules dictated the manipulation of their artistic language. The mediums were their voices in different contexts: breathing, speech, and singing. The usage of live electronics, theatricality (as an extension of using their voices), space and instruments were kept limited, offering a well-defined contrast for each duet. For the last ‘game’ the duo used the interior space of the Nutshuis as a staged sound playground during a climactic and maniacal echo exchange, full of cartoon-like noises, breaking glass, and animalistic shouting.

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photo by Yota Morimoto

Having a common ground of experimenting with their voices and a growing interest in exploring the forms and structures such a language can lead to, ‘Michasis’ was not a finished piece written down to a fixed notation. The need was to play with and enjoy the possibilities of live interaction at the Nutshuis. Their work was mostly focused on researching the material and then establishing rules in order to create a more concrete frame.

They first worked together during composition studies a few years ago, performing new music pieces (written by composers like George Aperghis and Jani Christou) that involved their voices. They both have a great interest in language as music, or the music of speech, so it felt natural to explore it collaboratively. Paraskakis has been constantly improvising and playing with new sounds with his voice (and mouth). The composer, George Aperghis has been a great influence and inspiration for both of them with pieces like the Récitations (which was also performed during the concert at the Nutshuis).

The desire for a mood for between playful and exploratory led to an avant-garde and funny performance, and it was apparent that the two artists were also enjoying themselves. A long and appreciative applause followed the last ‘duet’ with some, including myself, wiping tears of laughter from their eyes.

They are both looking forward to working further on this piece and its “situational” aspects in the sound world. Watching the music theatre spectacle known as ‘Michasis’ comes highly recommended and should definitely not be missed the next time they perform. I certainly look forward to their future experimentations and outcomes in researching the music of speech.

For more on the artists: http://thanasisdeligiannis.com
and http://michailparaskakis.com