THE ACCORDION CONCERT IN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
FOUR MEETINGS WITH FOUR COMPOSERS
The editors of Strumenti&Musica asked me for a contribution on contemporary music for accordion. I accepted the invitation with joy. I thought to present some pieces, written for me by important composers, that I run in the first run, in recent years, at prestigious venues (Teatro Bibiena of Mantua, Philharmonic Academy of Bologna, Harvard University, Boston).
In the year 2015 it was agreed to present four composers, on a quarterly basis. This year we will therefore propose Alessandro Solbiati, Gianluca Verlingieri, Luigi Manfrin and Gabriele Vanoni.
INTERVIEW WITH LUIGI MANFRIN – ACRYLIC ON MIXTURES II (2006) FOR ACCORDION CONCERT
Luigi Manfrin was born in Melbourne (Australia), he obtained a Diploma in Composition at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan with the M° Giuliano Zosi. He later attended the specialization courses with Franco Donatoni at the Scuola Civica in Milan, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena – where he received the Diploma of Honor – and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. In 2007 he attended as a student of the actual Workshop-computer music at IRCAM ACHANTES (Metz). Between ’92 and ’98 he worked as an organizer and composer with the association Nuove Sincronie for the construction of a series of International Festival of Contemporary Music, held in Milan in November and December. His compositions have been performed premiere at international exhibitions of contemporary music such as Milan Music (Festival G. Kurtag 1998), Festival of Nuove Sincronie (Milan), Gaudeamus Foundation (Amsterdam), Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico), Circle Baratelli (L’Aquila), Oberdan Music (Milan), Mantua Contemporary Music, Société de Musique Contemporaine of Lausanne, in fora such as the Hochschule für Musik in Monaco of Bavaria, the Teatro Sibelius, the Hopetoun Alpha of Auckland (New Zealand ), the Hungarian Academy of Rome, CAMeC of La Spezia, the Muziek & Kunst in Amsterdam (Italian Cultural Institute of the Netherlands), the BKA in Berlin and Brandenburger Theater. For the exhibition Rondo 2006 (Milan) Divertimento Ensemble has performed in first Backwards moviments for 5 performers; Luigi Manfrin also held a seminar for the course of direction of Vortex Temporum Gérard Grisey. In 2009, again for the Review Rondo, the Divertimento Ensemble has performed in prior to Monza and Milan Acrylic Mixtures III for accordion and 8 instruments, solo Rojac Corrado, director Sandro Gorli. In 2002 he graduated in philosophy with a thesis entitled: Spectromorphology and “Durée réelle” – The presence of Bergson in the musical thought of Gérard Grisey. Part of the thesis was published in 2003 by the “Journal of Italian musicology”. In 2008 Luigi Manfrin, as a member of the Permanent Seminar of Philosophy of Music – University of Milan – has participated as a speaker at the International Congress of University of Palermo with a speech entitled “Gérard Grisey – Hybridizations between synthesis techniques electronics and writing processes: the shadow of the sound to the plurality of temporal vortex. ” The conference was organized by the University of Palermo – Department Aglaia, the Music Lab University and the Centre Culturel Français of Palermo and Sicily. There followed the publication of an essay with the same title of the report, published in the book “Italy / France. Music and culture in the second half of the twentieth century, “The EPOS publisher. In April 2007, Luigi Manfrin was invited as a composer at the University of Aveiro (Portugal) for the exhibition “Momentum Conference and Concert Cycle, DeCA”. Since 2007 Luigi Manfrin is regularly invited to participate as a composer at the Festival ” Eterotopie – Suono, Danza, Parola Immagine ” of Mantua, for the realization of instrumental pieces and electronic, performed at the Palazzo Te. It is expected the upcoming release of a CD of the Stradivarius of Duo Simone Beneventi and Flavio Virzi with the recording of the song Emboyding Surfaces for electric guitar and percussion. In October 2013 he was invited at the Collège Doctoral Européen Strasbourg for the Journée d’étude autour de l’œuvre de Fausto Romitelli, where he presented a study on repetition and deformation in “Dead City Radio: Audiodrome» Romitelli. His music has been broadcast by RAI 3 Radio Network, Radio Switzerland from the French, and his scores are published by the publishing house Suvini Zerboni of Milan. He currently teaches at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan.
How would you describe the landscape of contemporary music of the moment and its development over the past decades?
Answering this question is not simple, because it is about the time we live in and as such does not allow remote viewing. This does not affect the effort to be able to give a provisional description of what is happening within the so-called “contemporary music”, for example by identifying what are currently its main trends with their historical cultural origin, the composers who seem to be among the most significant, their differences, their contact points, the comparison between their poetry, and so on. The risk, however, is enormous, because the maps, however sophisticated, often end up being the conceptual frameworks stable, while the artistic universe is perpetually unstable, lively and chaotic, and it is not easy to grasp its immediate emergencies.
A demonstration of what is said there are many changes of identity that contemporary music has received in the course of the last century. Just think of the idea of classical music composers who were in the 50s and its difference with respect to what is understood and practiced by later generations.
The label itself “contemporary music” has become so increasingly problematic, because it continuously aims to differentiate itself in time and, in many cases, to trespass, opening itself to musical areas previously considered “outsiders” and that sometimes works originated – in my view – of a certain artistic value.
In the question, then, is the implicit problematization of the idea of music and its cultural value. The description, therefore, can only stay on the level of uncertainty in a positive sense differential, ie projecting towards several directions simultaneously trying to understand, this heterogeneous multiplicity in the making, internal resonances.
Earlier we mentioned the trend towards the encroachment that has brought several composers to be interested in “other music”, remaining, however, in the field of operations compositional educated. Actually this encroachment also happened in ages past, there have always been contacts between classical music and popular music. In more recent times, however, the point of convergence has increasingly made up starting from the scope of technology, namely in the field of electronic sound with particular attention to the relationship between sound harmonic and non-harmonic multiforme.
Other composers, on the contrary, have preferred to maintain a certain line, but instead to work within a writing so to say “most typical” of contemporary sound avoiding the so-called “contamination”. This, however, has generated progressively work remarkable research experimental / instrumental effect on the sound harmonic / non-harmonic, with complex compositional designs capable of renewing the idea space / time of musical form and asking the listener an uneasy reception based on ‘extreme concentration around the event / sound.
Plus there is the field of music that looks increasingly expanding and multifaceted in its applications: in this context, there is a wide range of purpose and productions that move from one area of study on hyper-specialized ‘interaction between technological research / science and art at a high level, to areas more or less intermediate, where in some cases the production reaches the same results that have a valid artistic although not strictly belonging to the “cultured” music.
If there is, then, a factor of resonance between these general trends we schematically identified, taking into account the many internal branches that each of them has in itself, we can locate it in this attention to the materiality of sound and timbre to his latencies imaginative and expressive, with repercussions that within cultured impacted primarily on writing and musical notation.
This last point touches on a central issue: the constant replenishment of the idea of music – an idea that lives from its multifarious manifestations sensitive and which can in no way whatever – it seems more and more oriented to redefine itself in its expressive value, i.e. recur according to the invention of a new “expression”.
It should first clarify that “expression” does not mean to leave the multiverse acoustic music, adhering instead, albeit partially, to an aesthetic thought oriented towards the concept of “formalism extended” or enriched but that can not be separated from the problem of time and memory. Of this, however, I will speak in more detail when will address directly the music I write.
The theme of memory brings us to another important consideration about music today: the comparison with the past and tradition. This highly complex issue deserves wide discussion, I will limit myself to only a few points that I consider essential.
In some periods of the history of music “contemporary” has felt the need to break completely with its tradition neutralizing maximum influences, trying in this way to kick-start something completely new perspective according to a discontinuous time. This extreme action, that has marked the thought of “modernity” in the strong sense, and that has given rise to artistic results of great importance, it proved ultimately utopian and unrealistic. The result was a counter-reaction which initiated the theories of postmodernism, but that in many cases wanted only mean a regression to the past with the rejection of “modernity”.
In this regressive idea of postmodernity he’s opposed another much more interesting, projected to keep fit in the modern criticism. Jean-François Lyotard, who was the greatest theorist of postmodernity, spoke of this proposed hypermodernity to express the thought of a modernity enhanced, which remains constantly nascent state and that is confronted actively and critically with the past.
Elaborating further the concept of modernity multiplied and multi-directional, we find the idea of the difference: we can then assume that the unbridgeable gap that separates them from the past and present, are given in the contemporary resonances that connects them to each other. Just from these resonances can arise spontaneously new musical designs, some of which are already active in this and that I previously mentioned.
In the overall picture of today’s music and that, as we have already said, it involves a constant re-definition, it seems that it is precisely the information technology to gain more and more importance.
Some even theorized an epochal change, with the birth of a new world of sound all digitized and intended to replace sound natural world. On the contrary, I think rather more the need to make a reflection vigilant and strict to allow in genealogical terms of clarifying the relationship between the foundation of the primordial image of the rough world of acoustic pre-categorical and its reinterpretation symbolic-math-digital; this ratio, in fact, can not be replaced, because the first always serves as a prerequisite of the second inalienable.
A hypothesis of possible reading of the relationship between these two universes – acoustic / electronic and natural / artificial – is to conceive of their residual differential, or the difference can not be eliminated, as the beginning of a correlation chiasmatic open and stretched between dissimilar forces. Proceeding from this difference in nature, so designed, it can then ask, according to a multiplication of operational plans, the levels of interpenetration between the virtual universe of one with the concrete of the other, without ever getting to a coincidence absolute or replacement.
I tried to express this tension between coalescence and opposition in my idea of image-sound, intended as a game of pitting or simulacra sound that refer to each other forever, but that draw on concrete bottom-sensitive of the initial images of the world of sound.
How do you see their work of composition within it?
In part I anticipated the answer to this question in the previous year. Like many composers, are careful to focus attention on what is happening in different sides of the music of today. But I think what is important for a musician, in this historical moment, to act according to an aesthetic orientation, not only to critically engage with the caosmo music around him, but for the choices that will then affect in an essential way on his music writing . The assumption is that you have an idea enlarged craftsmanship, taking in every compositional gesture exercised on sound matter the presence of a latency of expression that invests radically the relationship with the world in general.
The aesthetic orientation I have in mind touches relations with the sounds and their occurrence in time and space “front” and, together with the concomitant compositional operations that take place on them. This is due to the recent history of the music that has continually expanded the scope sound from the height to the complexity of the stamp. This interest in the stamp moved, simplifying, in two directions: 1) acting directly and so extreme on materiality natural acoustic instruments for the generation of new sounds; 2) through the artifice of electronic synthesis with the discovery of paradoxical effects and timbres absolutely unnatural.
In both cases, it was the perception of belonging and its relationship to the universe sensory to be “expressed” artistically, and it is to this “expression” that the musical aesthetics, as well as the mean in relation to the composition, may apply . This led me to deepen the study of “spettralismo”, not only in its technical-compositional, but especially in the correlations with some currents of contemporary philosophy.
In particular, the problem of the relationship time-perception, in relation to the metaphor of the film translated into sound image and subjected to changes in perspective of a screen deforming, led me to read some important texts of Bergson, Bachelard, Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze to mature an aesthetic orientation focused on the virtuality of the acoustic event.
In different ways, but converging in some respects, Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze recognize the existence of a dimension of time (also the space) is not chronological. Merleau-Ponty calls this openness “trans-time”, for its spread on the synchronic diachronic succession of moments that mark the time factual. There is a note of the extraordinary The Visible and the Invisible entitled Past indestructible and Analytical intentional in which Merleau-Ponty refers to Freud and Proust to theorize the existence of a time before or architectural past, which he calls “mythical time “.
Likewise also Deleuze, Difference and Repetition in, refers to Proust talking in a note of Combray itself as pure fragment of the past, in its double irreducibility to that was present and this where you could see her again, or rebuild it. Combray itself, therefore, is defined by its virtuality consistent in their essential difference or “qualitative”.
Both philosophers, then, seem to converge in the idea of a retrograde movement that simultaneously projects forward through the repetition of the time in his perennial beginnings. I limit myself to these few tips to point out how this opening dimension of time can be found even in a composer like Grisey, especially in the last phase of its production.
The French composer has always been the problem of the time at the center of his music and in his writings he calls himself, not surprisingly, in Le temps retrouvé. For this reason, rather than matters relating to “tecnomorfismo” form, use of materials and spectral hybridization between instrumental writing and synthesis techniques electronic elements that have rightly marked a whole generation of later composers, I think the size of the Grisey’s music is to be asked in reference to his work on time and that I would relegate to the thought from the philosophers mentioned above.
In particular, of Grisey, Vortex Temporum is exemplary compared to what has been said; this composition for 5 instruments is a complex musical architecture based on the plurality of temporal rhythms and simultaneously refers to various scriptures opting for one formal spectralism because all the material, including the spectra used, is built according to mathematical modules.
For me, the study of this score allowed me to convey my training linked to Franco Donatoni in a compositional research on musical time. This allowed me to conceive of a composition with the same staff of Vortex, entitled Backwards Movements, derived from my Duo for flute and accordion – my first encounter with this tool.
The title alludes to “retroiezione” of the moving time and that, in doing so, it configures simultaneously musical ideas that are molded in turn, is expected to represent de-formations of the time. The composition is as crossed by two forces, opposite but feeding in reciprocal exchange between them, and the other un’avanzante retrogradante; Backwards Movements consists of continuous reconfigure itself as implemented on the difference and similarity of the relations in “resonance” between them. Resonance mean, precisely, something that belongs more to the ideal sphere-sensitive that no factual song.
So, to answer the original question, my work compositional moves following the need to deepen the aesthetic orientation based on the writings of musical time understood in a non-chronological. Some sought metaphors derived from meditations on time and within the contemporary philosophical, allow me to experience the attempt to write a well addressed. I think this guidance should clarify better addressing the analysis of Acrylic Mixtures II, composed after Backwards Movements and the result of collaboration with accordionist Corrado Rojac.
Can you describe her Acrylic Mixtures II?
The title Mixtures Acrylic is a way to express my idea of surface sound. By “surface” mean a variety of plans, levels and dimensions that are inherent to the ambiguous sound images that I feel I want “to exist” in my composition. Often use the term “surface” or “surfaces” in the titles of my songs as a synonym image for metaphorize ambivalence of multiplicity sensory and ideal that together, coexist and interact intrinsically in music.
The surface, therefore, does not indicate anything of the plate and at-dimensional, but a multiplication of levels and openings dimensional, not being able to reduce the music or to a simple game of impressions auditory, or something closely to a mental-abstract. The audible (the concrete) and the inaudible (the abstract) of the sound are wrapped as one another, being inscribed each other on a same surface of belonging.
In ontological terms, the surface consists only of herself, without hiding something else; yet it is far from transparent, consisting of rather ambiguous play of light and dark or unveilings and veilings, ie fragmentation, shooting and continuity. By this I mean that the surface “live” essentially subtraction and over: it is “beyond” the sound sensations that dissolve almost immediately, “in addition” to the formation of “sensitive musical ideas” that appear similar to crystallization liquid and unstable, momentary and transient because remittances in play by its incompleteness and referral to the sensations.
The use of image and sound imagination wants to distinguish the ambiguity sensory-ideal surface: the musical ideas that solidify in it they are also sensitive, being immediately encrusted in the sensory dimension of sound. I agree with J. Harvey when conceiving the complexity of the music as ambiguous as the overcoming of the principle of contradiction.
Acrylic Mixtures II comes from the reworking of a previous composition for bayan. The title refers to the establishment of an ideal-touch material of sounds used in the song, namely their dense materiality that, on an auditory-imaginative, refer to the properties of the substances, materials and tactile exploration operations that can be performed on them. In addition to this reference, which contrasts mixes sound timbre soft and velvety timbre to those hard and full, is called also the scope of expression of visibility, with references to games pictorial mixtures of light and color, alternating sounds chordal now clear and transparent, now more gloomy and impenetrable.
In this sense, Acrylic Mixtures wants to be a metaphor of the surface sound that it expresses and represents, expanding on plans and sound levels differentiated and thus forming an architecture of volumes, masses and stamps in the making.
Could you explain some of the salient features spettralismo present in it?
In fact, my idea of surface as image-sound, wrapped and multiplied on itself and on several floors, draws in part to spettralismo. My interest in this important musical had different backgrounds. The label “spettralismo” did not like his representatives and, not surprisingly, there are significant differences between the composers associated with this movement. My interest has focused on the study of conceptions of G. Grisey on musical time, thought of him as a “difference”. It is known, in fact, that Grisey was referring to the “pre-individual” theorized in Différence et Répétition by G. Deleuze while citing, in his writings, Le Temps Retrouvé Proust. The fascination for some of his compositions and the reference to philosophical issues related to the sense of differential time led me to deepen the concepts and techniques of composition, and attempting partially my rereading.
More specifically, the word “spectrum” is derived from Latin spectrum, specere or spiecere, terms referring to the vision and image. The spettralismo, as it is known, has been linked since its beginnings in a series of metaphors schermatiche applied to the composition, in tropes derived from acoustic sonography, ie the ability to convert sound into visible image. Spectroscopy science was one of the fundamental epistemological assumptions that gave rise to the spettralismo in music. In this regard the philosopher G. Bachelard has glimpsed in spectroscopy the implementation of a program of scientific research for the creation of a pattern of driving experience, that is capable of giving rational order to the manifold empirical (The pluralisme cohérent de la modern Chamie, 1932 ).
The problems for the spectrographic were incorporated in the conceptualization of the composer H. Dufourt, who first coined the term “spettralismo” in music. Bachelard always identified in the concept of energy the origin of non-Cartesian epistemology and the time-to-energy (derived indetermination of Heisenberg) has allowed a reformulation of the idea of duration of Bergson, merged in the compositions of G . Grisey.
Therefore, if there is a certain confluence of my music writing in Acrylic Mixtures II with the spettralismo, this was done by operating on the transformation of the image of the sound in time. I wanted to make my reworking this concept in my idea of surface sound. For this I am back on some styles of writing to generate a kind of spectral spettralismo to the second power or revisiting distance of it, as if I had subjected the spectral music under another screen deformer.
Acrylic Mixtures II is so configured as a job timbre, duration and continuity of sound, operation it is well lent the use of the accordion. Acrylic Mixtures II follows a trend strictly periodic, thus allowing the slow pace of change and the difficult control of the evolution dynamics of the sound and, at the same time, doing the ghosts resurface paradigms biomorfologici sound in their aspects transitive and slow transformation. In it is felt, especially in the initial and final, the hybridization between instrumental sound and electronic sound, what Grisey called instrumental synthesis. Acrylic Mixtures II, therefore, stems from a continuous modulation of the agreements as required subjected to a permanent deformation calculated.
With these assumptions, I tried to bring forth a new and original composition, of which the “spettralismo” consisted in working on the relationship memory-image, receding temporarily on some seemingly ghostly sounds. But the main work was on the appearance of the sound, working on its extinction to emphasize the character evanescent. Acrylic Mixtures II follows a series of rhythmic beginnings or filming based on coming back and the sound of nowhere, as if its frequency is enveloping back on itself, giving some the feeling of prolonged sound, but suspended or stretched between the appearance and the apparently. It is this characteristic phantasmal “spooky” that distinguishes this song.
This article is available also in: Italian