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Sergio Armaroli, Riccardo Sinigaglia: Tecrit2Live

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Official release: May 2021

  • Artist(s): Riccardo Sinigaglia, Sergio Armaroli
  • Composer(s): Riccardo Sinigaglia, Sergio Armaroli
  • EAN Code: 7.46160912332
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Marimba, Percussions, Piano, Synthetizer
  • Period: Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2021
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Description

The encounter with artists Riccardo Sinigaglia and Sergio Armaroli prompted a lively discussion, in which the two musicians illustrated their aesthetical and ethical principles within the framework of a friendly talk. Their verbal interactions paralleled their musical discourse: it immediately appeared that the two artists are in close friendship with each other, and both are used to listen deeply to their colleague in a reciprocal exchange of ideas, stimuli and beauty.
As stated by Sergio, Tecrit is a joint project, a duo project, born from their long acquaintance. It started many years ago, when Sergio was a student in Riccardo’s class of electronic music at the Conservatory of Milan. This teacher/student relationship evolved in the following years, particularly thanks to their common interest in improvisation. At first they joined forces with other musicians, creating quartets and even larger ensembles dedicated to improvised electronic music. Later, they decided to establish a duo, with the combination of Sergio’s percussion instruments (and particularly the vibraphone, which is his “reference instrument”, as he himself affirms) and of Riccardo’s electronics. Along with the vibraphone, however, both artists are also fascinated by percussion instruments coming from other cultural realities, from Africa to Asia. These ethnical instruments are provided with particular sonorities, which foster new approaches to sound and to intonation.
The germinating idea behind Tecrit was to use a Pythagorean tuning for the electronic instruments in combination with the equal temperament employed by the vibraphone. These concepts are related with the physical phenomenon of the subdivision of the octave (i.e. the interval between, for example, two Cs) into smaller intervals. A number of different tuning systems have been devised by humankind in various historical and geographical contexts. The now prevailing system in the Western cultures is called “equal temperament”, and it is based on the principle that the octave should be divided into twelve perfectly equal semitones. All other tuning systems allow some inequality among the intervals, which therefore acquire and confer particular shadings to each note, and – most importantly – to its relationships with other notes.
Moreover, when two notes with a very similar – but not an identical – tuning are sounded together, they create beats, i.e. a phenomenon perceived by the human ear as a pulsating sound, as a kind of vibration. As explained by Sergio, “by combining a non-tempered tuning with that of the vibraphone, we worked on beats with a particular imprint due to an extended concept of modality”.
In technical terms, “modes” are systems of organizing the musical sounds by ordering them following a pre-determined pattern of intervals. Once more, modern Western culture basically employs just two modes, the major and the minor scale, which constitute the foundation of the tonal system. However, both in the Western culture of prior eras and in contemporary non-Western traditions, other modes were created and employed. When used within a culturally conditioned context such as that of Western music, these modes allow the artists to free themselves from the constraints of pre-established “roles” attributed to the various degrees of the major and minor scale, and to experiment with the sonic material in a more spontaneous fashion.
In Riccardo’s words, “Our music wavers between the modal and the completely atonal, but it never touches traditional harmony. Indeed, improvisation works very well with modal patterns, as in Arabian and Indian ethnic music. They are founded on a fundamental basis; for example, in Indian music there is the tampura, which repeats constantly the same notes and represents the ground, the earth. It is not by chance that the tonic of the tonal system is also called ‘fundamental’, since it is foundational”. When one listens to Eastern music, he explains, there is a very high number of microtones and changing shades of tuning; however, the music falls again and again on the fundamental. This happened also in Western culture up to the seventeenth or eighteenth century, as Riccardo points out, before the cultural hegemony of tonality. “For example”, he says, “traditional instruments such as the bagpipe have a constant drone performing the keynote; there is a fixed pipe and the others are free to move. Wind instruments could similarly play only the natural scale, which is one of the most perfect from the mathematical viewpoint, since it is based on perfect ratios. For example, the octave is 2:1, the fifth is 3:2 and so on; only the seventh is very different from the eponymous interval found in the tempered system”. The underlying concept is that the overtones determine a tuning system which is entirely natural, since it is encapsulated in the very sound of the fundamental. “When one employs non-tempered scales”, in Riccardo’s words, “the problem, of course, is that modulation becomes impossible. A melody which has a perfect intonation and no beats when played in a particular key becomes entirely out-of-tune when played at the upper third; it changes, actually”. Instruments allowing the performer’s extemporaneous adjustments of intonation could tolerate this situation, since the musicians could intervene instantaneously and slightly modify their intonation in order to achieve a satisfactory aural result. However, this became impossible when such instruments had to perform with others, such as the harpsichord or the piano, which are bound to a predetermined tuning system. “Today, however, electronic instruments allow us to easily modify the tuning”.
Sergio and Riccardo’s extensive use of non-tempered scales with the tempered vibraphone plays therefore with the beats, purposefully creating dissonances which are embodied in the sound itself. The improvisational dialogue thus becomes, in the musicians’ words, “interesting and dialectically lively, even if not devoid of some angularity and expressive asperity”. The pieces follow each other obeying to a clear itinerary, and they build up a journey touching both long improvisations with a larger form and short intermezzos. Sounds of various provenances are employed in order to break the hypnotic atmosphere characterizing the aural flow.
Both musicians point out that their music follows an energetic flow passing through their personality: “We are only the catalyzers who allow this flow of sound to show itself. Similar to all living things, this flow is never rigid. Rhythm breathes, it slows down or accelerates, at times imperceptibly and at times markedly. At the same time, the melodies evolve with continuing variations, until they stray away from the initial modality; and this is, for us, an ‘organic’ improvisation”.
Their music is seemingly close, therefore, to the minimalist current, and may recall New Age atmospheres. However, in the musicians’ opinion, New Age music trivializes its own potential by employing a “hyper-tempered” tuning and standardized modulations. In spite of its modal structure, “it loses the purity and complexity” it could claim. In particular, New Age music is saccharine and constantly “pleasurable”. “We also cherish this aspect”, they affirm, “yet we venture into the dissonant and harsh because this is also part of life. Music mirrors life, culture, our selves; there is not only calm, but also struggle, disgrace, and true music must include all this in itself – as happens with classical music, for example”.
This relation between music and life is crucial for the musicians. As stated by Sergio, improvisation is successful when there is mutual confidence and trust. “We recorded our first Tecrit in 2013-4; the present recording, entirely live, means a complete freedom of improvisation. We agreed on some references and some modal scales, but we performed a suite born from our years-long friendship”. Riccardo joins in, and affirms: “Improvising together has the beautiful aspects of the human relationship. When one improvises solo, unavoidably the usual patterns start to appear: I express myself, my language and my way of being. When improvising together, instead, one has to be open to changes. Ensemble players change each other; ideas are thrown to the other and received back, and new itineraries (unexpected ones, frequently more lively and interesting) are discovered. The pleasure of playing together is crucial: I don’t wish to be the leader of the improvisation, there must be equality. This is an important philosophical message: this music has not a composer and a performer, but is composed jointly, sharing, on the spur of the moment, the experiences of all”.
The musicians thus invite the listeners to join in this circle of communion. “We played without stylistic constraints”, states Sergio; “I was simply listening to what Riccardo was doing and dialoguing with him. We both tried to transcend stylistic stereotypes, and we invite our audience to simply listen to this flow of harmony and sound. It is an organized sound, though one beyond every stylistic definition”. Riccardo concludes thus: “For us, what matters most when we play is to listen carefully to each other. This is extremely beautiful for me. It is a form of communion with the people you are playing with. It is a spiritual enrichment”.

Album Notes by Chiara Bertoglio

Artist(s)

Riccardo Sinigaglia: Born in Arona in 1953, Riccardo Sinigaglia is an architect as well as musician. He teaches electronic music at Milan Conservatory where he studied during the Seventies with Angelo Paccagnini. He collaborates with the video center of the Faculty of Architecture, Milan University, where he lectures on the relationship between music and image.
His musical production also include music for documentaries, ballets and theatre spectacles. His work is based on modes, mean tone, pitagorean scales and complex polyrhythmics: he is deeply involved in ethnomusicology, the elements of which are revisited and employed in his musical language. In the 80's, togheter whith Walter Maioli and Gabin Dabiré, he founds the group Futuro Antico, a cross beetwin electronic and etno shamanic music. In 1985 he founded, together with Mario Canali, the audio-visual art group Correnti Magnetiche beginning to work with digital system. Correnti Magnetiche uses computerized systems in order to create audio-visual compositions, and produces videotapes, installations and live-electronics concerts. In concert play whith Maurizio Dehò (violin), Gabin Dabiré (balafon and percussions), Tommaso Leddi (violin, horn) and the soprano Rossana Maggia when Mario Canali paint on a graphic tablet with a big screen fellowing the music. Correnti Magnetiche works have won many prizes at international demonstrations of computer art in Austria, Japan, U.S.A., Italy, Hungary and Switzerland, and they have been broadcast on TV and radio world-wide (see curriculum). From 86 he work with Doubling Riders a musical group with Francesco Paladino and Pierluigi Andreoni. They play in festivals like Time Zone in Bari.
He work als in wolrld music project with the libic singer Ahmed Fakrun. He work also with Pietro Pirelli and his Ensamble de la Roue, with Corrado Colliard (Tbn.), Mauro Gino (perc.) and Maurizio Barbetti (Vla.) and plays often with Jooklo duo, Yuval Avital, Trio Cavalazzi, Davide Zolli, Ariel Kalma, Federico Sanesi and many others.

Composer(s)

Riccardo Sinigaglia: Born in Arona in 1953, Riccardo Sinigaglia is an architect as well as musician. He teaches electronic music at Milan Conservatory where he studied during the Seventies with Angelo Paccagnini. He collaborates with the video center of the Faculty of Architecture, Milan University, where he lectures on the relationship between music and image.
His musical production also include music for documentaries, ballets and theatre spectacles. His work is based on modes, mean tone, pitagorean scales and complex polyrhythmics: he is deeply involved in ethnomusicology, the elements of which are revisited and employed in his musical language. In the 80's, togheter whith Walter Maioli and Gabin Dabiré, he founds the group Futuro Antico, a cross beetwin electronic and etno shamanic music. In 1985 he founded, together with Mario Canali, the audio-visual art group Correnti Magnetiche beginning to work with digital system. Correnti Magnetiche uses computerized systems in order to create audio-visual compositions, and produces videotapes, installations and live-electronics concerts. In concert play whith Maurizio Dehò (violin), Gabin Dabiré (balafon and percussions), Tommaso Leddi (violin, horn) and the soprano Rossana Maggia when Mario Canali paint on a graphic tablet with a big screen fellowing the music. Correnti Magnetiche works have won many prizes at international demonstrations of computer art in Austria, Japan, U.S.A., Italy, Hungary and Switzerland, and they have been broadcast on TV and radio world-wide (see curriculum). From 86 he work with Doubling Riders a musical group with Francesco Paladino and Pierluigi Andreoni. They play in festivals like Time Zone in Bari.
He work als in wolrld music project with the libic singer Ahmed Fakrun. He work also with Pietro Pirelli and his Ensamble de la Roue, with Corrado Colliard (Tbn.), Mauro Gino (perc.) and Maurizio Barbetti (Vla.) and plays often with Jooklo duo, Yuval Avital, Trio Cavalazzi, Davide Zolli, Ariel Kalma, Federico Sanesi and many others.

Sergio Armaroli. He studied painting at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts (Milan) and electronic music, jazz and percussion instruments at G. Verdi Conservatory of Milan, graduating with full marks and honours. He also studied at the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala (Milan) and at the Istituto Superiore de Arte de Habana in Cuba with a major in popular percussions. He studied and collaborated with Giuseppe Giuliano, Alessandro Melchiorre and with Jonathan Harvey. He has held numerous performance practice and improvisation masterclasses at Civic School of Milan, Agon Informatica Musica (Milan), S. Cecilia Conservatory of Rome, and at G. Verdi Conservatory of Milan. Creator and curator of the afterNotations Exhibition, Armaroli is a founding member of the Città Sonora Association.
He has recorded a number of CDs both as a percussionist and a vibraphonist/marimbist, performing in numerous theatres, concert seasons, ensembles, and orchestras such as Teatro Alla Scala, La Società del Quartetto, Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Venice Biennale, Exit 09 International Music Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK). Really important for his career was the encounter with the composer Sylvano Bussotti and with the music of Alvin Curran with whom he created two recording projects and curated two personal exhibitions: Sylvano Bussotti miniaturist and Signage. Likewise, it was crucial the meeting with Brunhild Ferrari Meyer and with the work and thought of Luc Ferrari, as well as the influence of the work and thought of John Cage and Marcel Duchamp.
Many of his works are realized for electronics and computer tape and as well as many are the multimedia and performative projects: Le souffle corporel for piano, computer tape and a dancer (Conservatory G. Verdi of Milan, 2006); AfterSilence work (Milan, 2007) for a drum and computer tape; Luc Ferrari Tautologos III (Arsenale Theater, Milan, 2018). Thanks to the work Magono-Te: mains des petits enfants (2019) his name was reported into the International Prize for the unconventional writing of musical scores (Lucca, 2016) and included in the bibliographic publication Experimental Improvisation Practice and Notation by Carl Bergstrom-Nielsen of the IIMA - International Improvised Music Archive (pag. 46/46). He is working in close cooperation with the trombonist and composer Giancarlo Schiaffini, with whom he shares an experimental and theoretical attitude in the practice of improvisation and "jazz", the latter being understood as "extension of the concept of art"; speaking of which, it was included by Flavio Caprera in the Dictionary of Italian jazz (Universale Economica Feltrinelli, Milan, 2014).
With the Swiss percussionist and composer Fritz Hauser, with whom he developed a compositional technique derived from John Cage's number pieces, he recorded Structuring The Silence. In Paris, in May 2006, he premiered at Giuseppe Giuliano's Citè de la Musique Miss Z with singer Ingrid Caven. From this concert, the director Bertrand Bonello filmed the documentary Ingrid Caven: Musique et voix (France, 2012). For Da Vinci Classics, he edited the aboutCAGE, a CDs series dedicated to the American composer and his compositions are published with Da Vinci Edition.
In the field of education, he published with Francesca Gemmo the book Percussion Instruments (Padus, Cremona). He is also a poet, painter and sound artist.

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