November was a very intense month.
As the first surprise of the month I got selected as a finalist of the spatialization competition L’Espace Du Son and was invited to play a concert in Bruxelles on the Influx Acousmonium.
This speaker system which, because of its philosophy and specs, is not “just” a speaker system but behaves alike a real instrument, is the acousmonium established by Annette Vande Gorne in Bruxelles in the early eighties. She has made it the core of her musical activity and teaching for the past 30 years and more and she has been constantly enlarging and perfecting it until it reached what it can be considered a status of the art loudspeaker orchestra. Definitely one of the best in Europe, together with Beast in Birmingham and the Acousmonium of GRM in France. Useless to say I am extremely happy and honored to get the chance to play on this amazing instrument.
I will perform pieces by other composers, as my personal choice I picked a piece by Daniel Berezan called Offshore. I was assigned a piece by Mathieau Marcoux called Zone and then I will be given two more pieces at random, extracted from a batch of classic compositions.
I think it’s just so interesting that this instrument can be used to reinterpret other’s people music.
In some sense, the interpretation of acousmatic music - being staged, with a performer - represents some sort of step back from the original Schaefferian idea of “music projected out of speakers with no visual element”. As François Bayle explains in a famous interview, the acousmonium was first invented to draw people back to electroacoustic music. In facts, after the ’68 in Paris, electroacoustic music was perceived by audiences as part of the counterculture movement and therefore had lost some of its appeal. Bayle has the great merit of giving this music a new audience who would enjoy the performative aspect of acousmatic concerts and attend the events.
On the 23rd of November was I also invited to perform my piece Scie Luminosissime which I now consider my best summer hit at the celebrations for the 25 years of Notam: the Norwegian centre for technology in music and arts.
My music was performed together with pieces and performances by Stian Westerhus, Mariam Gviniashvili, Gyrid Kallestad, Ernst Van Der Loo, Hilde Marie Holsen and others.
Notam has been active for years supporting artists and their multimedia projects, as well as offering mixing and mastering services, implementing new sound technologies and bringing facilities - such as their 3D audio studio - at everyone’s disposal. A truly great resource that has an outstanding value and contributes enormously to the artistic life of the town.
Being invited to such an event was indeed a great pleasure for me.
From the 10th to the 17th of November I’ve been in Stockholm where I did a residency at EMS, the famous Elektronmusikstudion started in 1964 which hosts a number of facilities and technologies put at disposal for free to electronic musicians and composers applying for residencies and studio hours.
EMS is mostly famous for their two Buchla systems and a massive Serge modular synthesizer, but in the latest years the profile of the institution evolved and started including spatial audio technologies - especially for ambisonics - putting up two 15.1 loudspeaker domes. This evolution happens in synergy with the profile of the local music academy where the presence of Bill Brunson and Gerhard Eckel have contributed to the development of an interest in this direction.
For my week at EMS I had very specific plans.
- Mixing and finding a title for a new stereo piece that I used to call “gli acini della rabbia” - a title that didn’t satisfy me anymore
- Working on a new piece in ambisonics, which I had started sketching in stereo but I wanted to enlarge.
For the first one I mostly used studio 7 due to its special combination of near field monitors Genelec One and the special set of handmade speakers built in the seventies for that room. I could have used studio 3, which has a way more powerful stereo system and I actually used for the final listening session, but I had the feeling that studio 7 would have fitted my purpose perfectly especially due to the smaller size and the more engrossed feel.
The mix I ended up with I s a bit more compact and powerful but also yields an overall sense of cloudy reminiscence that floats in the air. This last feature I like a lot and it gave me the inspiration for the title of the piece:
Strade fatte a memoria. A song about holding hands and walking familiar places.
The second piece is still pretty much a work in progress but by now I have a 15 minutes ambisonically spatialized structure which brings me in another direction from the one I’ve been pursuing until now. I won’t say this piece is drone-inspired, but surely it features some longer forms. I take advantage of stasis, the materials have the chance to stay and breath more, develop their full potential before I manipulate them.
There isn’t many gestures, ruptures, dramatic cuts, true. But I feel there is certain poetry in this subtlety, in not flexing my sonic muscles.
I got as far as I could with these two pieces for now, any other work to be done on them would not be fruitful at this stage, but I still had some days left.
I decided to invest them getting back to an old piece of mine called Delta Scuti. A 34 minutes loop based beast that I had listened again and seemed to me that it was done way below the technical skills I have today.
I’ve had the idea or reworking it for a pretty long while and I thought that using tape would have been a nice option. Just I didn’t have the tools to do it. At EMS I got my hands on a pretty amazing STUDER reel to reel tape recorder which I used for this purpose.
At the end of the two days I had recorded and reworked all the materials I wanted to use, I now need to assemble them into a new piece.