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ACOUSMATIC

Teoria e pratica del cambiamento

Libro I (2022) electroacoustic music [5′ 24″]

Libro II (2022) electroacoustic music [18’ 50”]

Libro III (2022) electroacoustic music [11’ 03”]

Libro IV (2022) electroacoustic music [11’ 09″]

I always pay great attention to what is generally called the pre-compositional phase. It is an attitude I developed from my acquaintances with conceptual artists in the 70s and John Cage’s music. The ‘cambiamento’ (change) of the title refers to Music of Changes (1951) for piano, the first work where the American composer used extensively his chart system based on I Ching, the ancient Chinese book of oracles organized in 64 hexagrams. From Music of Changes I took the formal division into four Books and their durations, but  above all the inspiration for the non -intentional generative process of the sound events in my composition.

The technique adopted is that of convolution. It starts with the deconvolution of short fragments (about 1 ‘) from instrumental music of the II post -war period with ‘burst’ of instrumental sounds. So I get impulse responses (IR) that I will use for the convolution  with 8 different types of materials (Ecc), each with 8 different sounds:

  1. instrumental short sounds
  2. concrète impulsive sounds
  3. electronic impulsive sounds
  4. instrumental + concrète impulsive sounds
  5. instrumental + electronic impulsive sounds
  6. instrumental continuous sounds
  7. concrète continuous sounds
  8. electronic continuous sounds

The IRs are organized in 4 ‘mobile’ charts (one for each Book) of 8 x 8, while the Eccs in a single 8 x 8 ‘immobile’ matrix that is used for all 4 Books. The product of these two matrices therefore gives me 4096 possible structures for each Book. End of Theory.

The Practice: the Eccs and IRs randomly extracted, with variable density between 1 and 8, will generate through convolution the sound events to be placed in time according another random choice. While the percussive nature of the piano is just evoked in the first two Books – each sound event is like a trail, a refraction of the piano gestures on a ‘sound prism’ (“Duration, color, speed focus” writes Cage in his notebook) – in Books III and IV we focus more and more on David Tudor’s piano.

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ACOUSMATIC

Studi I-VIII

Studi I-IV (2020-2021) electroacoustic music [6′ 57″]

Studio V (2020-2021) electroacoustic music [6’ 21”]

Studio VI (2021) electroacoustic music [25’ 49”]

Premiered at XXIII Colloquio di Informatica Musicale, Auditorium della Mole Vanvitelliana, Ancona, October 26th 2022

Studio VII (2020-2021) electroacoustic music [7’ 02″]

Premiered at REF Resilience Festival, Foggia, Teatro della Piccola Compagnia Impertinente, September 26th 2021

Studio VIII (2020-2021) electroacoustic music [1’ 45”]

Force without law has no shape,

only tendency and duration.

David Foster Wallace

My Studi I-VIII are inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke I-VIII. These piano works revolve around the electronic experience of Elektronische Studie I and II. If the Klavierstücke I-IV (1952-53) represent a sort of sketches of the electronic pieces to come, the Klavierstücke V-VIII (1954-55) reveal a new attention to time which at the same time ‘stretch’ the form according to “statistical form criteria” and allows the author to build different timbres (almost in competition with the electronic ones he had worked on for 18 months) that emerge from the constant use of resonances produced by the silent pressure of the keys.

In my studies, all realized with CSound, I wanted to recreate the electronic sound of those years: : in its main morphology so close to that of piano sounds (due to sharp cuts in the magnetic tape) and in its ‘color’ – mainly obtained thanks to the convolution with the impulse response of the EMT 140 plate reverb, the one used by Stockhausen for Kontakte (thanks to Martino Marini for its IR recordings).

For each study, or group of studies, I have adopted spectral generations and different behaviors in the ‘bad copying’ of the Klavierstücke, but always conceiving each sound as a momentform whose duration and entry delay are unpredictable, and within which it is sometimes possible to hear the barely hinted echo of an acoustic composition.

Studi I-IV (which must all be performed together): resonant filtering of short distorted samples of ethnic music with various functions, gestures and temporal distribution as similar as possible to those of Klavierstücke I-IV, echoes of ethnic music.

Studio V: physical models applied to audio functions produced by a Julia set (implemented in CSound by Hans Mikelson, 1999), notes generated with Cmask (Andre Bartetzki, 1997) to approximate the density and dynamics of Klavierstück V, echoes of classical music.

Studio VI: each sound is the sum of a three-fold ‘image’ obtained with convolution (long decay piano sounds) of Julia set spectrum, squarewaves, piano attacks. The long decay piano sounds are actually the deconvolution of original piano tones with selected short piano attacks; the result is a kind of RM piano. All the piano sounds are sampled from the David Tudor III version of Klavierstück VI. Following the Stockhausen’s idea of ‘satellites’ and main sounds, I wrote an algorithm to serially generate all the parameters and formal organization. Echoes of vocal music. I wish to thank Pascal Decroupet for giving me access to his working sheets for “First sketches of reality. Fragmente zu Stockhausen (Klavierstück VI)”.

Studio VII: physical models applied to audio functions produced by a Julia set. Its structure arises from an approximate analysis of the events in Klavierstück VII, identifying three morphological types: fast arpeggios  (piano), long single sounds, sounds with delayed partials (slow arpeggios). Echoes of music from Stockhausen.

Studio VIII: physical models applied to audio functions produced by a ring-modulated Julia set with random step functions and transposed with Hilbert transform. Its structure comes from an approximate analysis of the events in Klavierstück VIII, identifying three morphological types: fast arpeggios of chords, long single sounds, sounds generated by probabilistic distributions over several ‘voices’. Echoes of free jazz.

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ACOUSMATIC

Fermentazioni

(2021) electroacoustic music [12’ 03”]

Fermentazioni is made by some of the materials I collected during the making of the music video Il suono rosso (The red sound, video by Ivan Penov), an “audiovisual staging” on wine commissioned by ‘La Stoppa di Elena Pantaleoni’.

Between 2018 and 2019 I made many hours of recordings in Ancarano di Rivergaro (PC), distributed over time according to the rhythms and phases of static and extreme dynamism typical of wine production. For Fermentazioni I chose the recordings that account for the chaos of one of the dynamic processes that take place in the steel tanks in which the pressed grapes are put: fermentation.

Without distorting its acoustic nature, a phenomenon usually hidden from our ear – and endowed with a strong ambiguity due to the similarity with an electroacoustic technique very common today in music such as granulation – becomes audible.

For the recordings I used a self-built piezoelectric microphone and an AKG 411L dynamic microphone, both applied to the external surface of the tanks in which two different wines produced by La Stoppa ferment: Ageno (in two different tanks, a few days after pressing) and Malvasia (one month after pressing).

Fermentazioni is constructed by simply sequencing, with a cross-fade of 1 ‘, three fragments of 4’ each (Malvasia-Ageno01-Ageno02), modified only with a second-order high-pass filter at 100 Hz for Malvasia, at 300 Hz for Ageno.

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ACOUSMATIC

Ousia

A Mario Messinis, in memoriam (2020) electroacoustic music [14’ 05”]

This composition comes from working materials for a larger work, Il suono rosso (The Red Sound), a videomusical project commissioned by La Stoppa (a ‘natural wine’ factory in Ancarano, Italy). The nature of many of the sounds recorded there reminded me of Xenakis GRM pieces, especially of Bohor: pruning, fermentation, farm tractors, racking, decanting, labeling + bottling, harvest, removing a huge cloth covering drying grapes, barrique washing, filtered granulation of barrique washing, distillation, racking and dripping, resonating filters on previous materials, wasps over drying grapes, time stretching of resonating bottles, modal processing of previous material.

So I decided to use them in a different organization, according the Makis Solomos paradigm “Between mathematics and Natural Sciences”.

To formalize the 16 natural/transformed sound sources, I used the stochastic method applied by Xenakis in Achorripsis. Thanks to the formula for Poisson’s law (lambda= 1.667) I get the overall distribution of the events (density degree: I to VI) on a matrix with 16 rows (each for one different sound source) and 28 columns (time unit=30”).

As the result was too dense, loosing many small but musically important timbre differences, I decided to use only four different sound sources for each of the four parts structure.

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ACOUSMATIC

Enfoncer une porte ouverte

(2018) electroacoustic music [13’ 43”]

Commissione: Flaubert Revue critique et génétique

Enfoncer une porte ouverte represents the beginning (Part I, chapters 1 to 4) of a longer work commissioned by Bruna Donatelli, editor of “Flaubert en musique”, issue 21 of Flaubert Revue critique et génétique.

We know that for Flaubert text and sound (writing and reading) were not two separate entities, as he was reading aloud his drafts, Στέντορι εἰσαμένη μεγαλήτορι χαλκεοφώνῳ, ὃς τόσον αὐδήσασχ᾽ ὅσον ἄλλοι πεντήκοντα[1]. Thanks to this practice, he called gueuloir[2], he evaluated the quality of his sentences according their sonority: “Plus une idée est belle, plus la phrase est sonore; soyez-en sûre. La precisión de la pensée fait (et est elle-même) celle du mot”[3]. So I asked to the voice in my composition – Marie Gaboriaud- not to read the published version of Madame Bovary, but the final manuscript. I animate the text with sound-objects whose source is not necessarily heard, as I often replace the vocal spectrum with that of the sounds mentioned in the book, while the voice amplitude envelope will still determine the rhythm. The idea is to give rise to what I call an Imaginary Soundscape, where the sounds assume the role of characters, as in a stage work.

I am deeply indebted to Bruna Donatelli for guiding me into Flaubert’s world, hoping she will find the ideas aroused from her many advices now developed into a musical, even though unfinished, collana.


[1] “in the likeness of great-hearted Stentor of the brazen voice, whose voice is as the voice of fifty other men”, Homer, Iliad, V, 785.

[2] Michael Fried, Flaubert’s ‘Gueuloir.’ On ‘Madame Bovary’ and ‘Salammbô’, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2012.

[3] Letter to Mlle. Leroyer de Chantepie, December 12th 1857.

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ACOUSMATIC

Cacio No. 5

(2015) electroacoustic music [10’ 09”]

Premiered at Fifth International Csound Conference, Teatro Municipale di Cagli, September 28th 2019

This composition comes from working materials for a larger work, Il suono bianco (The White Sound), a videomusical project commissioned by Caseificio Di Nucci 1662 (a cheese factory in Agnone, Italy). For a whole week, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., I have recorded all the sounds in the factory (mainly for the production of caciocavallo): the milk spilling, the all hand-made transformation processes in wooden and steel vats, the conservation and aging stages.

In Cacio No5 the first half is devoted to the “liquid” part of the process, while in the second part we can hear the sounds of rubbing and beating the caciocavallo form in the cellar, as well as tasting of the cheese (recorded with a mouth microphone). The two main techniques I have used are granulation and convolution, mainly with the idea to render acoustically the aptic dimension of the cheese making.

Cacio No5 exists in stereo and 8 tracks version. The 8 tracks version has been created for the International Electroacoustic Composition Competition IANNIS XENAKIS 2016. After mixing the 2 tracks of the stereo version in a mono file, I split the whole spectrum in 24 bands (20 Hz to 24 KHz). I then arranged them in 8 files with 3 bands each (from low, middle and high register). To realize their spatialization I took 11 rotations from the transformations of a cube used by Xenakis for his Nomos Alpha (in Formalized Music, Pendragon Revised Edition, 1990, p. 219-236).  The 8 corners of the cube became the 8 loudspeakers and each of the files will move according the Xenakis’rotations, joining and dragging the spectrum of the corresponding loudspeaker. So for the first rotation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) we will hear at the beginning of the piece band1 (b1) on loudspeaker1 (L1), b2 on L2, etc. Soon b1 will move to L2, dragging b2 to L3, dragging b2 and b3 to L4, until, after a certain time determined by speed of movement, all the 8 bands will join in L8 covering the original whole spectrum. The 11 speeds (from 0.684 m/s to 8 m/s) are generated by a Gaussian distribution.

Performance notes

The loudspeakers set-up for Cacio n. 5 is represented by the Xenakis figure in Formalized Music:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 represent the channel-loudspeaker pairs. The cube side is 8 m. L6 L3 L5 L4 at the audience floor, L1 L8 L2 L7 above the audience.

A one floor arrangement, according the following picture, could fit:

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ACOUSMATIC

Ricercare su 24 punti di fuga

(2012) electroacoustic music on 24 tracks [12’ 44”]

Premiered at Suoni Inauditi,  Auditorium “Pietro Mascagni” di Livorno, April 24th 2013

Commissioned by ISSM “Pietro Mascagni”

1 commission by Istituto Mascagni in Livorno

1 French Horn

1 Jewish-feeling melody played by Francesco Marotti on the French Horn over three different octaves

24 loudspeakers arranged in three 8 loudspeakers groups at three different heights

24 impulse responses captured in the Istituto Mascagni Auditorium with source location at the center and mic locations at the 24 loudspeakers

5 comb filters to “pitch” the impulse responses

192 pitches used for convolution between the French Horn and the filtered impulse responses

4 delays series controlled with four different metronomes and eight loop times

24 mono tracks

1 virtual spatializer by Timothy Place and Roberto Doati

One ricercare over 24 vanishing points 1 spatialisation system over 24 independent channels

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ACOUSMATIC

L’idillio di Edoardo

(2010) electroacoustic music based on a poem by Edoardo Firpo with an appendix by Edoardo De Giovanni [3’]

Premiered at Miso Music Portugal, Auditório Philippe Friedman, Lisboa, April 15th 2010

Commissioned by Miso Music Portugal

This work was commissioned by Miso Music Portugal Festival for its 25th birthday. It belongs to a Cadavre Exquis made up by 50 different composers.

There are some similarities between Genova and Portugal, among these the sound of the language.

Therefore my present  is Edoardo De Giovanni (half Venetian, half Genoese) voice reading a poem in Genoese dialect written by Edoardo Firpo. Each declaimed verse is like a blow to the West, jumbling up 25 different frequency components I am filtering from a sound recording of Duarte Lobo Audivi vocem de caelo. This is a masterpiece of Portuguese Polyphony from the XVI Century and it is a six-voice setting of a verse and response for Lauds from the Office of the Dead.

Although Edoardo did not know it, he added to Firpo’s poem a “coda” which hints at the world that is still beyond “the Pillars of Hercules”: I am grateful to him.

Idillio

Quande in te lunghe séje là da stâe
veddo a farfalla gianca ch’a se posa
in sce-o fiore da-o gambo lungo e fin,
e l’aa ch’a ghe fa veja un pô a s’imbosa
comme a barchetta sott’a-o ponentin,
e se barcollan poi tutti doï
mentre da l’erba vegne un son sottï,
a muxica che sento a l’è tanto ata
che no çerco ciù ninte intorno a mi.

                                             Edoardo Firpo

When, in the long summer evenings,
I see the white butterfly alighting
on the long and fine stemmed flower,
and her wing swells like a sail
on a small boat under the westerly breeze,
and both of them then slightly sway
while a thin sound comes out from the grass,
the music I hear is so loud
that I do not search anything around me anymore.

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ACOUSMATIC

Veneziana

Veneziana n. 1 per Luigi Nono (2007) electroacoustic music [8’40”]

Premiered at EMUFest, Sala Accademica del Conservatorio “S. Cecilia”, Roma, November 14th 2010

Veneziana n. 2 per Mario Messinis (2007) electroacoustic music [17’ 10”]

Premiered at Sala Tartini del Conservatorio “Giuseppe Tartini”, Trieste, November 24th 2010

Veneziana n. 3 per Alvise Vidolin (2007) 6 tracks electroacoustic music [8’ 40”]  

Premiered at Conservatorio di musica “F.A.Bonporti”, Riva del Garda, May 3rd 2008

The “Veneziana” series rises from my unconscious as a symbolic farewell to Venezia and to three persons who played an important role in my professional development.

March 2007: I am preparing the “choirs” for the revised version of Un avatar del diavolo, a musical theatre work based on Antonin Artaud text and commissioned to me by the Biennale di Venezia in 2005. The idea is to add vocal tonal harmonies to three scenes in order to evoke the image of the bourgeoisie, who judges and finds Artaud guilty. These “choirs” are randomly broken into atonal gestures by the passion of the male actor voice on the scene. It is natural for me to take inspiration from Jean-Philippe Rameau who set the rules of tonal harmony. On the other hand he is already present in the 4th interlude (called “xilophonie”) to mention Artaud love for XVIII Century French dances.

The starting point for these choirs is the recording of Marianne Pousseur singing – extremely slow as I asked her – the melodic line of Vénitienne, an harpsichord piece by Rameau. “Veneziana” (Vénitienne) was the name for a composition form of satirical and burlesque content, a form practised also by Andrea Gabrieli.

As I am working on this sound material using some of the techniques experienced by Nono for his last compositions with live electronics – delays, resonant filtering, riverberation – I feel more and more the results as a nostalgic farewell to Venezia. As a matter of fact after 30 years I am leaving this incomparable town to come back to my birthplace, Genova. So I decide to select three different structures from the obtained materials to be arranged ad libitum according the desired “harmonic” stream.

A deep sense of gratitude to Luigi Nono goes with Veneziana n. 1, to Mario Messinis with Veneziana n. 2, to Alvise Vidolin with Veneziana n. 3.

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ACOUSMATIC

In assenza del doppio

(2005-2007) 4 tracks electroacoustic music (voice: Giorgio Bertan) from Un avatar del diavolo [24’ 15”]

This work is not simply a reduction of the theatre piece Un avatar del diavolo I wrote in 2005 for La Biennale di Venezia Music Festival. The theatre work was based on the last Antonin Artaud text “Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu”. The word “avatar” stood for the idea of the “double”: God as Lucifer’s double, excrements as double of spirit, the electronic avatar as digital alter-ego, etc. The music was using digital technologies to transform the two (Giorgio Bertan and Marta Paola Richeldi) actors’ voices in real-time, always suspended between logos and melos, the word and its musical double.

So, which is here the missing double (In the absence of the double)? The voice as a word. What does it remain? The voices’ resonances in extraneous bodies: animals, percussions, brass and string instruments, sighs and screams. It remains the music was arising on the stage from the resonances the voice excitation produced on vocoders and convolution algorithms.

The overall form, if halved in its duration, is the same of the theatre piece. Consistent with Artaud original text, it is made up by 5 scenes with 4 interposed xilophonie – as Artaud called his  short percussive interludes – plus a coda of handwriting sounds I added to stress the current  importance of Artaud writings.