On the 15th of February I was again flying to Tbilisi, this time final adjustments for the festivals needed to be made and I was continuing the discourse about the soundscape that I’ve started last time. In addiction to this, Mike and Mariam asked me to have two electroacoustic music listening sessions for our students that would help to create a context for the music that we are talking about and making.
The first of my lectures was mostly about the importance of the environmental sound in sound art and the concept of horizontal mapping, as suggested by Leandro Pisano in his book Nuove Geografie Del Suono.
I started the discourse using theories and classifications by Bernie Krause and David Monacchi in comparison to the original Soundscape categories of Murray Schafer to show how different “filters” of an environmental recording provide different ways to read it and different informations to retrieve. This background was used to introduce mapping as a tool to investigate reality, and by highlighting the differences between any vertical “2D” visual map and a sound map with all the significances they afford. From this, we also touched the concept of the Third Landscape, as illustrated by Gilles Clement, and demonstrated how areas that are apparently sterile, abandoned, fringes, can tell stories that are invisible to the eye.
The second Lecture was meant to shake all the knowledge we accessed in our last talks, we went using Hildegard Westerkamp together with True and Monacchi to define what is soundscape composition. Once we found a definition for it, we went on dismantling this definition using texts of Carlo Serra and Tim Ingold to question whether such a fixed idea of it actually helps us or not.
For the listening sessions: I did one session based on the development of the aesthetic of GRM, featuring pieces of the early GRM times, mostly by Henry, Parmegiani and Chion. The second was instead focusing on the use of the voice in electroacoustic music, I used the fact that singing is such a big part of the Georgian music tradition as an excuse to create a narrative thread in our listening, featuring pieces by Berio, Wishart, Harvey and Parmerud.
This trip was also for me emotionally very relevant, I bought a Panduri by an old builder who lived in the old town, close to the cathedral, he told me stories of the Georgian resistance and shared his wine with me. It was a great experience that I’ll bring with me forever.
Between January and February we hosted Trevor Wishart for a series of guest lectures and a concert. He is an internationally renown British composer who has been a pioneer in the development of digital technologies applied to music and composition. In particular he developed the CDP, composer desktop project, a command line software used for transformation, which together with his distinctive use of the voice, resulted in some famous masterpieces in the electroacoustic music genre. Red Bird and the VOX cycle are surely among those, but his lectures mostly revolved around his last pieces, which would then be played at the concert.
I was asked to perform one of Trevor Wishart’s pieces over our loudspeaker orchestra, the piece I played was Vox 5, which also originally was a quadriphonic piece but was later reduced into stereo to be released on a CD. The diffusion I did for this piece was based on the idea of association, treating every sound not for what it was but for what it resembled. I did my analysis of every small section of the piece and ended up with flocks of birds, swarms of bees, warped human utterances of which I tried to imitate the behavior and reproduce the intrinsic gesture in the space. Especially the end, a big roaring storm disappearing in silence over the time of one and a half minute, was treated starting from the front, menacing; then getting closer, becoming all around the listener with sudden directional bursts, then faded back over the speakers on the balcony so to make only the reflections hearable. I was very happy about the piece and I think that together with a piece by Juhani Silvola I played the about one year earlier, that was the best diffusion performance of another person’s piece I did.