The notion of musical form is often ineffective in its generality, because it does not say anything but that in a work of art any material has to be mediated and not simply present. In electronic music the notion of form is not completely referable to mathematical relations: they do affect the way of proceeding, both as explicit principles and in those typically latent, even mystical expressions; nevertheless they are not form but rather its vehicle. The formation of materials shows to be chaotic and devoid of quality on the part of the subject, who, for the first time, is left free and abandoned to himself. The composer draws upon mathematics because it can fuse together the state of subjective reason in which he finds himself to the appearance of objectivity: what is in front of the artists as form, has instead explained just its contrary. The traits of radical art – due to which it has been ostracized – stem all from the fact that its content springs up just as it is, and it does not comply with any current harmony. Radical art has contrasted romantic expressivity actually by means of its own protocollarity and conflict against form: it has refused to mitigate the alienation of the image and has phagocytized the alienated only by determining it as such. Getting rid of significance is the force which enables a radical work of art to synthesize: too burdened with reflections, it denies its own significance so as to give again rise to itself as a formal principle. Since a work of art is not in itself something fixed but rather something in movement, the notion of chaotic attributed to the inability to follow the specific logic of the objective thing, seems to be used in an astonishingly regular way in order to hurl invective against the most radical Music. Under the continuous threat of regress, a total denial of style seems nearly to turn into style. A work of art integrally formed in a rational way can eliminate the difference from empirical existence just by virtue of its own absolute autonomy.
JOHN DOWLAND (1563-1626) – Can she excuse my wrongs?
Little is known about the life of John Dowland: although the place of birth is set in Ireland, the scholar Thomass Fuller argues that it could instead be in Westminster, related to the Dowlands registered in the parish of St Martin in the Fields. As a not particularly fortunate musician, he moved to Italy through the Kassel Brunswick courts. In the winter of 1596 he returned to England. During his stay in London he published his first collection of pieces: The First Booke of Songes or Ayres of Foure Partes with Tableture for the Lute (1597). It was an incredible success and was reprinted at least four times. It was the first publication in England of songs with lute accompaniment made with tablature, which greatly facilitated the approach even for those who could not read the music. At the time, vocal music was printed in small booklets, while Dowland used a single large volume. The songs could be performed as solo pieces, or a cappella in quartet, or by adding other instruments. The song Can she excuse my wrongs? was presented in the form of a gagliarda and can be performed as a group or as a solo piece for lute. The melody used for the accompaniment is actually the famous Elizabethan song Shall I go walk the woods so wild? The obsessive melancholy of Dowland appears as it is from the beginning of his career and was never abandoned. Sleep and death are sought to provide an anticipated release from earthly concerns, and although this was a typical attachment of his time, the response was acutely personal in him. Death, of course, also has a sexual connotation, but even when it is absent or heavily concealed, his treatment of the idea frequently has an erotic intensity. In Come heavy sleep we assist defenseless to a passionate request that breaks all the restrictions of counterpoint. Come heavy sleep was used as a material for the Nocturnal, after Dowland for Guitar, Op. 70 (1963) by John Dowland and destructured in order to present again itself metamorphosed in the current version Spiral by Stockhausen (track 4).
NATASHA BARRET (1972) – Deconstructing Dowland
Natasha Barrett is a British composer specialized in electro-acoustics. Its aesthetics is based on acousmatic music, an adjective referring to the sound that is heard without identifying the original cause. The word derives from the Greek akousmatikoi and is attributable to Pythagoras. The term was recovered by Jerôme Peignot, French poet, writer and typographer and theorized by Pierre Schaeffer. In his studies, Pierre Schaeffer used this concept to analyze the sound without the semantic or linguistic constraints linked to the source. One of his intentions was to give the sound the condition of an object on its own: the musical object. To listen to the sound released by its causes, a recording and reproduction tool is indispensable. Deconstructing Dowland (composed in 2003) takes as a starting material the song Can she excuse my wrongs? by Dowland and connects ancient music with the new aesthetics of acousmatic music and surrealism using the dejected and intimate sound of the guitar. Deconstructing Dowland is a duet between the guitarist, who has to prepare his instrument by inserting objects between the strings, and a computer. Communication takes place through the MaxMSP software which, thanks to a precise and very defined set of requirements that allow to calibrate the dialogue, interacts with what the guitarist is performing at the moment. Pure sound overlooks every formal idea, tones and timbres dominate and replace every concept of classic skeleton and structure. The illusory freedom with which the guitar expresses itself alludes to an almost maniacal, superior and unconscious order that naturally develops nearly like a lush and mysterious plant. C
LUCIANO BERIO (1925-2003) – Sequenza VIIb
Light and shadow, sound and silence are the first instantaneous binomials that Sequence VII suggests to the listener. The piece, dedicated to the Swiss oboist and conductor Heinz Holliger, is in fact a study and analysis of the most extreme instrumental-timbral possibilities. A figurative polyphonic research is articulated and vibrates acrobatically on an always constant sound generator. The adaptation for soprano saxophone (VIIb) was edited by Claude Delangle, one of the leading exponents of classical saxophone with a contemporary orientation. Minimal variations of timbre, sometimes imperceptible, create a series of vocal nuances by outlining a sound path in which sound and silence interact and form a dense, changeable and impalpable acoustic environment. The progressive trend has its origins in a simple and single fundamental note (constantly underlined by the oscillator for the entire duration of the piece), sometimes revised in a clear key and other times vague and wisely revisited by enhancing the different sound colors in an imaginary and figurative bodily dimension with continuous expressive changes and moods. The quality of the sound thus becomes a main characteristic of Berio’s musical language, which interprets the composition in Sequenza as an exploration of a sound source moving in non-tonal senses intended as research spaces.
KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN (1928-2007) – Spiral
He was among the most significant of the last century. There is no composer who has been so tenacious in appropriating new ideas and so precise in formulating the avant-garde mission. Spiral is part of a series of works dating back to the 60s that Stockhausen has designated as “process” compositions. These works separate the “form” from the “content” presenting to the performers a series of signs of transformation that have to be applied to material that can vary considerably from one performance to another. In Spiral and three complementary works (Kurzwellen for six performers, Pole for two, and Expo for three), this material has to be spontaneously pulled out during the performance by radio broadcasts. The processes, indicated mainly by signs like plus, minus and equal, constitute the composition and, despite the unpredictability of the materials, these processes can be interpreted as interchangeable among the various performances. Spiral was composed in Madison, Connecticut, in September 1968 and was presented for the first time on May 15, 1969 at the Biennale of Muzički Zagreb, with the oboist Heinz Holliger as soloist. Spiral consists of a sequence of 206 events, gathered into ten sections that are divided into punctuation by wavy lines. Each plus, minus or equal sign indicates that, during the repetition of an event, the performer has to increase, decrease or maintain the same level in one of the four musical dimensions: overall duration of the event, number of internal subdivisions, dynamic level or register / tone interval. It is up to the performer to decide which of these dimensions is to be influenced, except for vertically-stacked signs that have to be applied to different parameters. The sound and the environment as a condition therefore become symptoms of hysteresis. Hysteresis is a phenomenon in which the value assumed by a quantity dependent on others is determined, as well as by the instantaneous values of the latter, also by the values that they had previously assumed; that is, in other words, the hysteresis is the characteristic of a way of reacting lately to the stresses applied and depending on the previous state. Hysteresis becomes here the rhythm of the eye. The eye that becomes ear. Schizophrenic, but not in the trivial sense of dissociated. Schizophrenia as music, which disincarnates the bodies, is placed on escape lines that cross the bodies, but which find consistency elsewhere, which is shown through the introduction of the stamp, the old fetish of improviser instrumentalists, but also through the use of the pure pattern of sound. At the borders between the infinitely large and the infinitely small, the abstraction and the figuration, the black of the night and the white of the stars, like an inverted and infinite keyboard, Stockhausen’s music vibrates in the silence of the universe interpreting the boundless motives of space and time. The limitless space of a universe we do not know. Time without measure of a world that we do not understand. The sounds are universal messages, they have the power to cross the time without suffering from it because they are challenges to nothing.
NICKY HIND (1962) – Crossing
Hind studied composition at Glasgow University (Scotland) with Graham Hair and Stanford University (California) with John Chowning. After completing his studies in 1997 he stayed in California, combining classical music compositions with the development of audio applications for Sony Interactive Entertainment. His music is full of meditative and imaginative qualities, and aims to research the atmosphere even before proportion. Crossings was composed in 2000, as a continuation of a previous piece for guitar with live electronics. Crossing uses a controlled echo effect to enhance the density of the melodic line. Through a loop station, patterns are repeated, captured live on which the soloist presses the phrases, with a procedure that recalls the befuddlement of American minimalists. The title of the song is inspired by the book Crossings: A White Man’s Journey into Black America by Walt Harrington. The book describes a man’s sadness about the condition of race relations while he is travelling across America. Crossing was finished after the unexpected death of his father Gerald Hind, pianist, teacher and composer, in Scotland. The material used for the Crossing end was added after his father’s death as a premonition for the sadness of his loss. The title Crossing has therefore acquired another meaning: the transition between life and death. A simple and impossible vision, lacking the appeal to the renewal but also shunning that vision of the absolute form in the incarnation of the intelligence of the sounds. Knowing that he is neither cerebral nor complicated, and feeling a nomadic traveler, in this Hind seeks the hardest thing: extreme simplicity.
JACOB TV (1951) – The Garden of Love
The Belgian composer Jacob TV defines himself as an author of the genre “avant pop”. His instrumental music designed to be performed with a sound tape with a strong emotional impact, reproducible with a ghetto blaster support or a simple boombox. His songs pull inspiration from the rhythm and sonority typical of real life conversations, various subjects and from the everyday of global events. “The garden of love” is inspired by a poem by the Romantic William Blake. In the tape that accompanies the soprano saxophone are engraved the words of the poem, sampled sounds of oboe, harpsichord, birds, electronic bows and percussion.
ULRICH KRIEGER (1962) – PYII
Fantasy, inspiration, creativity are three characteristics that describe the genius of Ulrich Krieger, composer, performer born in Fribourg in 1962. PYII undergoes the charm of the experimental atmospheres of progressive Rock, soaked in pure hazard. The piece contains in a few minutes a fusion of the main compositional techniques from the end of the 20th century to today. Measured moments alternate with guided improvisations, fixed structures, indicated with maniacal precision in the score cohabit with parts where the performers (soprano saxophone, electric guitar, electric bass and drums) have the opportunity to take the basic ingredients and create a mix following their pleasure. The daring use of the multi-sound technique of the soprano saxophone is to be pointed out, here it is understood as a succession of blocks of sound that bloom from a single sound entering into a relationship with the complex harmonic fabric. These overlaps of notes are obtained thanks to combinations of fingering positions that break the air column, orienting it in small autonomous swirls and variations in the quality of the emission in order to highlight the main notes of the figurative (dis)harmony. Meditative moments entrusted to the electric guitar are placed as a boundary between the various structures that make up the piece.
MORTON FELDMAN (1926-1987) – The Possibility of a New Work
Morton Feldman bursts into the American music environment of the 40s of the last century with his innovative compositional style and extremely far from the daily sound world. The search for pure music consisting only of soul and essence results in a writing without any earthly acoustic connotation, a study of pure and pristine sound that shouts to the world through soft sounds – even if angular – sometimes slow and distant. This rigid aesthetic stands as an overcoming of the lesson of John Cage (his teacher, source of inspiration and artistic father). The success of this piece, however, does not fall solely on the author, the practical experimentation in the drafting phase saw the collaboration of Christian Wolff, the first performer of the piece. Unfortunately, the only original piece of the composition was subtracted from the already mentioned Wolff.
BARRY COCKROFT (1932-2001) – Rock Me!
Rock Me! A mixture of unstoppable energy and vital force, imbued with groove and rhythm typical of Rock music. Its time firmly anchored to the tactus and rigidly marked, however, leaves a worthy space to gradual dynamic movements and to the exploration of the different tonal colors. His music is marked by an irrepressible joy and an effervescent vitality. The instrument is delighted in some imitations of the voices of colleagues typical of the genre: guitar with picked and distorted effect, drums with snare drum, bass drum and Hi-hat. Rapid blues passages, unusual sly feel, sudden changes of dynamics are not the only characteristics of this piece. The wise use of the typical effects of contemporary music for saxophone are here bent to the author’s will, assuming a form free from the technical side and always at the service of music. And so a review of harmonic sounds with and without fundamental audible, multiphonic with two and three sounds, wail, slap-tongue closed up, open slap, unpitched slap, cross fade hits and growl show themselves in their most authentic sense in this climb in the main genre of popular music.
PATRICK ROUX (1955) – Soledad
Patrick Roux, in addition to being very active as a performer and composer, since 1985 he has taught guitar lessons at the Québec Music Conservatory in Gatineau, as well as being a short time professor at the School of Music of the University of Ottawa since 1993. taught at the summer courses of the Domaine Forget International Music and Dance Academy. Soledad opens with a brief introduction of solo guitar to break into a melancholy two-way singing. The central section is contaminated by harder harmonies and rhythms and, following a cadence of the guitar and a recovery, leads to a queue that leaves many questions open. Soledad is sad but not dramatic. Returns a lucid and at times surrendered vision of solitude: although it may be the drama of life for many it seems that the happiest people are, in reality, solitary. Perhaps only in solitude can true freedom be known.
Text by Lorenzo Ricchelli e Gabriele Zanetti
Translation: Camilla Ravagnani
Zanetti, Gabriele (Guitarist), Gabriele Zanetti graduated in guitar at the Marenzio Conservatory of Brescia. Parallel to classical studies, he has always been interested in acoustic and electric guitar. He plays in the Mandolins and Guitars Orchestra “Città di Brescia” directed by M ° Claudio Mandonico, with whom he has recorded several monographic works devoted to important authors of the original repertoire. Active as chamber musician, he recorded over ten records. He wrote the didactic method for children “Musichiamo con la chitarra”. He published “Red Hot Peppers”, a essay on the birth of jazz and popular music. He wrote the romance “Tar and the guitar of time”, a novel in which the guitar history is explained through the journey of a cat. He rediscovered the manuscript of the Sixth Concerto by Niccolò Paganini in the original version for violin and guitar and has edited the review for the Japanese publisher DaVinci. He has an intensive teaching activity in the province of Brescia.attività didattica della provincia di Brescia e presso la SMIM di Adro.