Da gaie lande

(2018) for boy voice  and electronics ad libitum [2’] on a poem by Christian Morgenstern from Galgenlieder (1905)

Voice version premiered at: Chiesa di San Torpete, Genova, June 1st 2019

Voice: Marta Cereda

Commissioned by Fondazione Giorgio e Lilli Devoto

When I was invited to join the group of composers who were asked to set the lyrics of the Christian Morgensten zoo, Galgenlieder (1905), to music, I could not resist the temptation to refer to Gesang der Jünglinge. Quite a bland reference, because neither the size (2′), nor the destination of my work (live voice) could remotely approach the complex and elaborate process of composition of Stockhausen’s masterpiece.

I started by distributing the syllables of the text in a matrix:

Since column (9) represents either a pause or a spoken syllable, and therefore is outside any parametric attribution, I created the five matrices for pitch, entry delay, duration, dynamics and timbre in dimensions of 8 x 8, then proceeding with permutations as in a classic serial system.

The pitch series adopted is a sequence of 7 whole tones:

While I used the first four matrices (starting from different series) for both voice and electronics, the timbre matrix was used to compose only the electronic part. The sounds that make up the ‘scale’, all obtained from a recording of a seven years old girl’s voice, are the following:

1. sinusoid as filtering one or more components (depending on the intensity) of the voice

2. sinusoid that glides

3. spoken (also chords)

4. groups of impulses (from vibrating or looping occlusive consonants)

5. white noise (from sibilant and fricative consonants)

6. white noise gliding

7. vocoding with a tiger sound

8. vocoding with a mosquito sound

Text (Italian translation by Nicola Ferrari)

Das GeierlammLa tigre-zanzara
Das Lämmergeier ist bekannt,
das Geierlamm erst hier genannt.

Der Geier, der ist offenkundig,
das Lamm hingegen untergrundig.

Es sagt nicht hu, es sagt nicht mäh
und dich auf aus nächster Näh.

Und dreht das Auge dann zum Herrn.
Und alle haben’s herzlich gern.
Una zanzara-tigre Linneo l’ha già censita
ma una tigre zanzara non si sapeva in vita.

La tigre è grande, ardita;
la zanzara: si schiaccia con le dita.

Non dice zzzz, non dice ahhh –
se ti avvicini, ti sbranerà:

strabuzza gli occhi, guarda assassina
ma a tutti pare soltanto carina.

The score is printed in: Christian Morgenstern Galgenlieder. Un bestiario improbabile tradotto da Nicola Ferrari in trascrizioni, travestimenti e fanfole, Fondazione Giorgio e Lilli Devoto in Genova, 2019.



per Gianpaolo Antongirolami (2015-2016) for 1 to 4 saxophones and live electronics [10’-18’]

Soprano saxophone version premieried at XXI CIM, Museo delle cere anatomiche Clemente Susini,  Cagliari, September 29th 2016

Soprano Saxophone: Gianpaolo Antongirolami

Live electronics: Roberto Doati

Four saxophones version premieried at EMUFest, Sala Accademia del Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, Roma, October 26th 2016

Quartetto SAXATILE (Enzo Filippetti, Filippo Ansaldi, Michele D’Auria, Danilo Perticaro)

Live electronics: Roberto Doati

The work is based on a live transformation of a recorded saxophone (Gianpaolo Antongirolami playing my Il domestico di Edgar). The spectral analysis of this transformation, which does not contain any perceivable reference to the sound source, determines the score for saxophones in ANTIDINAMICA. The performers can choose and change the metronome (quarter note from 20 to 120) on every page, as well as what and how many staves to play – there are 6 in each page – but within a set period (minimum 6 ‘, maximum 12’). In the remaining 4 ‘(maximum 6’) they continue improvising on what in their memory the score left.

The live electronics performer freely improvises on the parameters of an environment consisting of a 8 tracks filtered impulses convolution then sent to 4 multitaps delay with pitch transposition in the feedback.



(2008) piano, hyperviolin and live electronics [12’]

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

Piano: Gianni Della Libera

Live electronics: Roberto Doati

Realized with a Fellowship from Kulturhuset USF in Bergen (N)

The piano part is based on Grieg Slåtter, the Norwegian Peasant Dances op. 72 for piano (n. 1, 6 and 14). Along the first two pieces the performer plays on the piano  just with  the left hand, while the right hand is equipped with one of the sensors made by Matteo Ricchetti in 1999 for my bastone armonico (a piece for violin, hyperviolin and electronics). The hyperviolin is a three sensors box to capture the right and left hand of a violin player, so to say is an extension of the violin instrument.

As these Grieg pieces are piano arrangements from Norwegian folk music for violin (or better: for Hardingfele, a violin with 4 or 5 resonating understrings), the pianist is acting with the right hand as if she/he was bowing on a violin. In the third piece the sensor is worn on the left hand, and the performer plays on the piano with both hands. The captured gestures are always used to control the live electronics transformations of the piano sounds.

Right hand wearing tilt sensor from the Ricchetti’s Hyperviolin.

The score for the three pieces shows a growing degree of  “processing” the Grieg materials: Stecche (1) is a quotation of very simple articulations in Grieg n.1, Stecche (2) is a kind of rewriting the original score of n. 6, Stecche (3) is a total distorsion of the original n. 14.

The live electronics part is basically simulating the resonances of the Hardingfele understrings, sometimes multiplied through convolution with the piano resonances.

Stecche was written during a residence at Kulturhuset USF in Bergen (Norway).


d’yn, n’yn, b’yt, spyrty, d’yl

(2002) five pieces for two voices (male and female) and 8 tracks tape [16’ 34”]

Premiered at Basilica di Santa Maria in Montesanto, Roma, December 5th 2003

Voices: Antonio Bortolami, Alessandra Vavasori

Sound projection: Roberto Doati Commissioned by Lanfranco Menga for Ensemble Oktoechos

“Sopra i monti degli aromi” is a journey into the Song of Songs through Gregorian Chants, Medieval polyphonies and electroacoustic compositions. It has been realized with the Ensemble Oktoechos conducted by Lanfranco Menga on a project by Emanuele Pappalardo, Paolo Pachini, Lanfranco Menga and Roberto Doati.

The guide lines for the compositions of my five pieces are suggested by unity and dualism concepts: the ille and the illa of the Song text, eroticism and sacred love, the human and the sacred. The vocal score is built on a few pitches, very often repeated to point out a sense of belonging to the earth. Nevertheless this kind of hochetus is sometimes broken by highest notes to mean the spiritual, the aim – not always achieved – to conquer the heaven, or it is broken by short speeches and non-singing vocal articulations. These articulations and recordings from everyday life of the two singers (Alessandra Vavasori and Antonio Bortolami) complement each other, so that each performer unfold oneself by means of the singing (the spiritual) and the speech (the corporeity). It is within the electronic part that I ideally accomplish the unity concept by using signal convolution technique. The frequency components of a male voice (or choir) are spectrally shaped by a female choir (or single voice), underlining both the physicality of the closely recorded voice and its fading into the reverberant space of a church. All the sound materials are coming from Ensemble Oktoechos performances of ancient music based on Song of Songs:

d’yn e n’yn are convolutions between men and women performances of  “Jam hiems” and “Veni electa mea” antiphonies;

b’yt, for female voice and electronics, is an elaboration of a fragment from the Sequenza “O ecclesia” by Hildegard von Bingen. Illa leaves her bed and go out into the night to look for her lover;

spyrty is the love duet and is built upon “Tota pulchra es, anima mea” by Heinrich Isaac: spyrty I is scored for electroacoustic tape, while spyrty II is performed by male and female voices with electronics. Actually it is not a conjunction song, it is rather a parallel song, like moving along side by side though the woman primacy in the Song text is reflected by the different weight of the vocal parts. The vocal score is obtained from the transcription of the resonances pitches and durations brought out by the convolution between single parts of the Isaac’s motet, while the electronic part turns over long static vocal resonances with lively sequences of voice grains;

d’yl, for male voice and electronics on the  Sequenza “In multo desiderio” by Hildegard von Bingen, represents the expectation. Ille is inviting her beloved to unveil her face and to let him hear her voice. It is an invitation to intimacy, pointed out by the counterpoint of live and recorded voices that express happiness, surprise, passion and erotic sighs.



In lectulo meo per noctes
quaesivi quem diligit anima mea
quaesivi illum et non inveni.

Expoliavi me tunica mea, quomodo induar illa?
lavi pedes meos, quomodo inquinabo illos?

By night on my bed,
I sought him whom my soul loves.
I sought him, but I didn’t find him.

I have taken off my robe. Indeed, must I put it on?
I have washed my feet. Indeed, must I soil them?

spyrty II

Ille Ecce tu pulchra es amica mea
ecce tu pulchra, oculi tui columbarum.

Illa Ecce tu pulcher es dilecte mi et decorus,
lectulus noster floridus

tigna domorum nostrarum cedrina
laquearia nostra cypressina.

Lover Behold, you are beautiful, my love.
Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves.

Beloved Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, yes, pleasant;
and our couch is verdant.
The beams of our house are cedars.
Our rafters are firs.


Surge amica mea speciosa mea et veni,
columba mea in foraminibus petrae
in caverna maceriae.
Ostende mihi faciem tuam
sonet vox tua in auribus meis
vox enim tua dulcis et facies tua speciosa.

My dove in the clefts of the rock,
In the hiding places of the mountainside,
Let me see your face.
Let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.


L’apparizione di tre rughe

(2001-2004) guitar, electronics and EyesWeb interactive system  [25’]

Premiered at Hochschule der Künste, Bern, May 2005

Guitar: Elena Casoli

Sound projection and EyesWeb: Roberto Doati.

Realized with a Fellowship from Rockefeller Foundation

This project arises from an explicit request by the great guitar virtuoso Elena Casoli. For years we knew and watched carefully each other’s work. Finally, during a tournée in Argentina in October 1998, we decided to work together. The idea was to compose a series of short pieces to be performed separately, but musically tied together as they were parts of a single work. So I realized two different but complementary versions of this project. One version – just electroacoustic, so to be performed with CD player or digital audio tape – is made up with electronically transformed guitar passages recorded by Elena Casoli, while the second one is a live guitar version to be performed interwoven with the electroacoustic one, like in a mosaic.

Two matter of fact suggested me the choice of sound materials. First the greatest ease Elena Casoli plays so many different guitars during a concert: 6 strings acoustic guitar – plucking or  palming – electric guitar, 10 strings guitar, 27 strings arciliuto. Second, her broad repertoire: from Gesualdo to the contemporary composers who wrote expressed pieces for her, passing through Berio, Boulez, Maderna, Scelsi, etc.

So I have chosen to work on sounds – and whole passages – from the literature of six different guitar “languages”: blues, baroque, flamenco, jazz, South American classics and rock, but also to work on the “colours” of different instruments: classic guitar, electric guitar, 10 strings guitar, arciliuto, all played in various ways – finger striking, pick striking, rabbing, tapping, palm muting, rasgueado, etc. Then these materials have been submitted to specific transformation classes such as time stretching, filtering, harmonizing, delay, space location – all of them realized by means of digital techniques – to obtain the electroacoustic version, and through a “translation” from the electronic results into conventional notation to reach the live guitar version. The purpose was to create a series of pieces that at certain moments evoke the six different guitar styles, and at several other moments deny them, therefore making the linguistic identification ambiguous.

Better than a confusing verbal description, I enclose here a clear graphic representation of the formal plan.

Electroacoustic version (to be performed interwoven with other composers’ work):

Electroacoustic version + live version:

Each part of the electroacoustic version (A, B, C, D, E) is formally articulated so that the short the part, the highest the density of guitar techniques and styles, while in each of the live parts (a, b, c, d, e) there is a deep concentration on a single style and/or techniques.

One relevant part of the project is the control of the live electronics part by means of an interactive system called  EyesWeb. Realized at the Computer Music Laboratory  of DIST – University of Genova, EyesWeb is a  software with  audio, MIDI and video input/output.

In the live version of L’apparizione di tre rughe the fingers movements of Elena Casoli left hand are followed by EyesWeb tracking the different colours they are painted. The fingers position on guitar neck are then translated into MIDI signals to control a set of Max/MSP patches to perform the live transformation on guitar sounds. The results in terms of articulation are much more “natural” than with a normal sliders MIDI controller, as they follow an unpredictable – but ruled – path such as the performer gestures. In the figure, a partial screenshot of the EyesWeb environment.

This has been already verified in a previous work of mine Allegoria dell’opinione verbale, a theatre piece where the actress lips are controlling the parameters for the synthesis of her own voice (as illustrated in an article published on the Scientific American Italian version:  Francesco Giomi “Il computer nell’esecuzione musicale”, Le Scienze quaderni, n.121).

Excerpt from the first performance in Bern.

bastone armonico

(1999) for violin, rainsticks, electronics and interactive system [12’ 30”]

Premiered at Auditorium Montale at the Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova, May 11th 1999

Violin: Marco Rogliano
Sound projection: Roberto Doati, Alvise Vidolin

Interactive system: Antonio Camurri, Matteo Ricchetti

Realized with a Fellowship from Bogliasco Foundation, Centro Ligure per le Arti e le Lettere

The work has been realised during a residence at the Fondazione Bogliasco thanks to a Fellowship from the Liguria Study Centre for the Arts and Humanities. The idea of the work arises from the admiration of certain monochromatic paintings where, according to different matters and techniques, successive paint’s layers give rise to a surface that make “disappear” the raw material. They can be perceived as sculptures or as comprising different changing shades, depending on the light incidence on the colour.

I am struck by the little perceptual bursts due to a strong abstraction.

As in other works of mine, I started here with sound materials that include both concrète [earthly] and abstract [heavenly] elements. I have tried to realise the idea of a monochromatic surface electronically transforming the impulsive sounds of two palo de lluvia (rainsticks), a popular instrument of the South American Indian cultures. It is this granular monochrome that constitutes the whole electronic part. The violin is just playing harmonics that sometimes, through original bow techniques, tend to dive into the electronic surface. Another tools for the development of “natural” (what’s natural here?) and artificial dimensions is the violin double equalization: the first one to emphasise the original acoustics, the second one to electrify it. During the performance the mixing of the two and its action time are left free to the sound engineer.

The interactive system (ad libitum) settles the relationship between violin gestures and electronic part. The movements of the left hand along the neck and the incidence angle of the bow on the strings are kept by one microled and a bracelet, and through an appropriate MIDI mapping, will control the sound projection of the electronic part on a eight loudspeakers system. Furthermore the weight distribution of the violinist body over two pressure sensible footboards will determine the dynamics of the electronic part.

Enzo Porta wearing two parts of the interactive system: microled under the violin scroll, tilt bracelet on right wrist. On the floor, the analog-MIDI converter built by Matteo Ricchetti.

The Laboratory of Musical Informatics, DIST (University of Genova) at the Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice has realised the interactive system for the first performance, particularly by Antonio Camurri e Matteo Ricchetti. I am deeply grateful to them and to my “same old” Maestro Alvise Vidolin who realised the MAX patches for the mapping controls. Thanks to Xavier Serra for his SMS program and Davide Rocchesso for his BaBo program: together with Csound I used them for the transformations of rainsticks. From the formal point of view the work follows 12 within 63 computer-generated drawings I received as a present from my very friend Gianni Revello. Some of these drawings have been submitted to the GraphSco program by Riccardo Bianchini for the extraction of musical parameters both for violin and electronic part.

«It is noise a music that does not paint anything». If this is not noise, it is thanks to the violin colours and the precise brushstrokes of Marco Rogliano: without his expert guide I could have not write this piece.

I am finally indebted to Franco Avicolli, poet of abstract lands to whom I owe the discovery of pouring sounds and lasting friendships in Argentina. I wish to dedicate to him bastone armonico.


Felix Regula

(1997) commissioned by Centre de Recherches et de Formation Musicales de Wallonie in Liège

I Felix Regula clarinets (and bass or double-bass clarinet ad libitum) and tape [11’ 30”]

Premiered at Liége University, July 1997

Clarinets: Jean-Pierre Peuvion

Sound projection: Roberto Doati

II Felix Regula flutes (C and G) and tape [11’30”]

Premiered at Festival “images sonores”, Ancienne Eglise Saint André, Liège, 1998

Flutes: Catherine Binard

Sound projection: Jean-Marc Sullon

III Felix Regula violin and tape [13’ 30”]

Premiered at Festival “images sonores”, Ancienne Eglise Saint André, Liège, 1999

Violin: Izumi Okubo

Sound projection: Jean-Marc Sullon

V Felix Regula violin (ossia viola), flute, clarinet, 8 tracks tape and live electronics  [15’30”]

Premiered at Festival Ars Musica, Bruxelles, March 2001

Viola: Miriam Götting

Flutes: Sascha Friedl

Clarinets: Heinz Friedl

Sound projection: Roberto Doati, Jean-Marc Sullon

Felix Regula is a work commissioned by and realized at the Centre de Recherches et Formation Musicales de Wallonie in Liège. When I received the invitation to realize a new piece with instruments and electronics it has been natural for me, living in Padova, to think to Johannes Ciconia (1340-1411). Not only because the great composer and theorician from Liège lived his last years in Padova, but also for the deep interaction between science and music there is in his life and work. As a composer working with computer since long time, I developed a musical thought shaped on this new technology. As technology I do not simply mean here the machine. I am referring to an ensemble of new scientific procedures to investigate and transform the nature.

The ‘nature’ to be transformed inFelix Regula is avirelaiby Ciconia (Sus une fontayne) which represents for me an archetype of the interest many composers had and still have on mirror games. So in the five different versions of the piece I realized(I:clarinet and tape, II: flute and tape, III: violin and tape, IV: tape solo, V: violin, flute, clarinet, tape and live electronics) I broke and rebuilt the form of the Ciconia virelai with musical istruments  mirroring not only each other, as in the music of the past, but also in my preferred mirror: the computer technology.

The computer transformations of the instrumental sounds are therefore conceived as a sort of double of each instrument, but in each version differently disposed in time according the esprit de géométrie peculiar of Ciconia’s work. The instruments act also as acoustical “transformer”, as the original pitches of the Ciconia’song are changed as concern the modalities of their emission using instrumental contemporary techniques (slap, tongue ram, multiphonics, etc.).

In I Felix Regula all the sounds produced by the instrument are transformed and simmetrically distributed time compressed around the centre of the clarinet part. So the first measures of the live clarinet are heard electronically transformed only after 40 seconds, and the last electronics sounds are presented before their acoustical source.

In II Felix Regula the treatments of all the flute sounds are “played” simultaneously with the flute part, a kind of non-real time live electronics.

In III Felix Regula all the sounds produced by the instrument are transformed and simmetrically distributed time stretched  around the centre of the violin  part. So the first measures of the violin  are heard electronically transformed 50 seconds before the live instrument, and the last electronics sounds are presented 50 seconds after their acoustical source.

IV Felix Regula is a 8 tracks version of the piece: track 1 (violin recording), track 2 (flute recording), track 3 (clarinet recording), tracks 4-5 (electronics from violon), tracks 6-7 (electronics from flute), track 8 (electronics from clarinet). The performance of the work is totally free as concern dynamics of the different tracks.

The temporal relation between instruments and electronics could be represented as follows:

V Felix Regula is a version for violin (viola), flutes, clarinets, 8 tracks tape and live electronics, where the relation between instruments and electronics could be represented as follows:


Il domestico di Edgar

(1996-….) a guided improvisation for saxophone player, tape and live electronics [7’ 04”]

Premiered at XIV Colloquio di Informatica Musicale, Limonaia di Villa Strozzi, Firenze, May 9th 2003

Alto saxophone: Gianpaolo Antongirolami

Sound projection: Roberto Doati

Realized with a Fellowship from Bogliasco Foundation, Centro Ligure per le Arti e le Lettere

If we could hear all the sounds of the world,

we’ll immediately go crazy.

Charlie Parker

In 1995 I was requested from Claudio Ambrosini to write a work with instrument and electronics to be performed by his Ex Novo Ensemble. It had to be part of a collection of works commissioned to different composers with peculiar indications: they could have been arrangements from pop or jazz standards, with or without improvisation. I decided to work with a well-known Italian jazz saxophone player -Pietro Tonolo- to a piece where improvisation and electronics were closely connected each other, but within the classical XX century musical language. The concert with the first performances was fixed in the following year at Sale Apollinee, in the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venezia. When the Teatro burned in January 1996 I was at the beginning of my work, and the bitterness and despondency that took me because of the loss of such a cultural and affective heritage were so strong that several times during the following years I tried to conclude it. In 2002 I can consider it finished but not complete, just as a “work in progress” could be, exactly as the theatre rebuilding works are: until today they are not completed.

It is well known that in the last years of his life, Charlie Parker was more and more interested in classical XX century music. Once he called Edgar Varèse, asking him to have composition lessons. His wish was so strong that he volunteered to be Varèse waiter in case the money he offered had been considered not enough from the french composer. Finally Varèse accepted, but starting after his imminent trip to Europe. When Varèse came back, Parker was dead.

In my piece I try to bring this never happened meeting. The electronic part is based on Varèse  Octandre, both from the sonological and formal point of view and on this tape -or the recording or real performance of Octandre– the saxophonist has to play following a score containing improvisation outlines often recalling be-bop style. Before the performance the solo saxophone is recorded, and some fragments are computer transformed and added to the electronic part for a next performance. So when a  new saxophone player will perform the piece, he/she will improvise also on a previous improvisation. This rebuilding and “ruins” overlaying process will proceed while there will be a new saxophone player wishing to perform the piece.


Un’armatura di cotone

(1995-96) alto recorder and live computer [9’ 48”]

Premiered at Teatro Municipale di Cagli, 1996

Recorder: Antonello Politano

Sound projection: Roberto Doati

This work is a transcription – on request and with great contribution of Antonio Politano – of my Donna che si copre le orecchie per proteggersi dal rumore del tuono, written in 1992 for flute and electronics. The title is different because the instrumental sounds bear an important timbral and formal role, also for the electronic part as many of the sounds are digital transformations of the acoustical ones.

The form is developed through three parts. First part has a primordial character. Through the use of playing techniques which give rise to noisy sounds (slaps, jet whistles, roaring, tongue rams), I tried to outline the basic components of the “flute machine” (instrument + player): the pipe, the blowing, the breath, etc. Here the computer is used to modify, while not altering the original sound nature, the flute sounds through temporal stretching/compression and pitch transposition. Flute and synthetic sounds follow, in the second part, a “cultural” trajectory. First the flute produces microtonal sequences, then timbral trills on larger melodic intervals and finally multiphonic sounds on single sustained tones. The synthetic sounds become timbrally more and more complex,  pointing out, above all, the prosodic differences with the acoustic instrument. New “natures” (a cross fertilization between acoustic and electronic worlds) are travelling in the third and last part (open form?). Through a simulation of Live Electronics (all the computer sounds in the third part are deep transformations of the tones played by the flute on stage), the work reaches a no-development stage. Each new cross-sound is presented isolated, so the listener can appreciate its inner formal richness.

In the year of America’s “discovery” celebrations, the woman of the preceding version title (“Woman who covers her ears to shut out the noise of the thunder”) is an Indian woman who protects herself from what she believes to be a storm coming. Un’armatura di cotone (A Cotton Armour) was the only protection Aztecs warriors had from the thunder of their guns. Computer technology is the cotton armour I wear sometimes to bear up my writing anxiety.


Il libro del sale

(1994) recorder (double-bass and tenor) and live computer [8’]

Premiered at Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte di Montepulciano, Chiesa di San Francesco, July 1994

Recorders: Antonello Politano

Sound projection: Roberto Doati

A closed book: virgin substance.

Opening the book: substance working.

Page 1

Coming from the sea, the matter is attracted by a black hole.

Page 2

The black hole: History. Fantasia, tripla, Renaissance dance, lamento, motet. Collapse: just the salt, free from waters, can escape.

Page 3

Salt as crystallization, solidification, stability, balance of its components properties.

Closing the book: substance has been made fertile.

Salt, whose taste is indestructible, is also symbol of friendship with Antonio Politano, hand-working alchemist of valuable sounds.