The HN System®: Hic et Nunc


In 1986, at 17 years of age, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Life expectancy: two years, maybe one. I learnt to live within the pure present. No future, no past, no expectations, no regrets, only the ignition of the moment, a spark struck inside a void that I recognised as the foundation of existence, a foundation that was more authentic and nourishing – so it seemed to me – than the fullness of memory and purpose that had structured my life until that moment.

In truth, long before my illness, I had already started to work on what I called “the nostalgia of the present”, the vital and poignant pleasure of savouring each instant in its unrepeatability, in its perpetual virgin arising and eternal setting; but the prospect of not having prospects made this work even more crucial, more urgent and even more voluptuous and natural, even if at the cost of a harrowing anguish. 

Many long weeks later, suspended in the fragrance of eternity, the doctors told me that they had been mistaken. I didn’t have cancer. The new revelation was even more devastating than the previous one. I was condemned to live anew within time that flows, which consumes itself with each passing year, a time within which one must construct existence and not only make it pulsate.

I felt lost in a lacerating dilemma: how to organically unite the two dimensions, the vertigo of the Void and that of Fullness? How to protect them from mutual destruction? I began to look for the answer in music, the focal point of my existence since I was a young boy.

Whatever compositional strategy I developed, however, was missing the vital spark of the present moment, and any improvisational praxis, on the other hand, failed to placate my need for the unrepeatable to come to life systematically. I needed to plunge myself into the centre of a crossroads: organise – and channel onto the written page – as much the intensity of the  composition as that of the performative experience. After years of cracking my cranium against the wall that separated the two camps, I managed to tear it down and I found my path: the HN System.

The concept is this: enter into the corporeal and mental act through which the performer creates and controls sound, penetrating deeply into the process, breaking it up into parameters and recomposing it into polyphonic strata, in fact, polyparametric. In this way, performative power becomes compositional architecture. 

I formulated an intricate musical system consisting of composition, performance and notation techniques, with the ambition of capturing the mysterious affective resonance of sound. After the first ten years of obstinately mining its possibilities, I gave it the name of ‘HN System’. Structure and the ephemeral. HN, hic et nunc, here and now. 

© 2014 Dario Buccino