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Musica Futurista, The Art of Noises

Italian Electronic Music Pioneers: an overview – The Second World War stands, for many, as the watershed cultural event of the 20th century. Prior to the War, electronic sound reproduction methods were limited primarily to phonographs, photoelectric cells, and rudimentary paper tape recorders. While the early proponents of electronic music on both sides of the Atlantic (Brown, Cage, Feldman, Tudor, et al in America; Henry, Schaeffer, Stockhausen, et al on the Continent), were at this time already laying the groundwork for their experiments and masterpieces, it was the horrors of the War and the dissatisfaction with pre-War culture which ushered in the age of Postmodern music, and advances in both magnetic tape machines and … [Read more...]

Sicilian Narratives

Electroacoustic Music from Sicily, Instituto Musicale Vincenzo Bellini of Catania – Islands are geographically unique in the ways they generate life and culture. On them we find species and traditions which have been forged in the crucible of isolation, from pollens and ideas that blow in with the trade winds, take root and grow without the pressures they would face on the continent. Remote islands such as Soqotra and the Andaman archipelago are renowned for their unique flora and fauna and outlying cultural tropes, while others like Zanzibar and Bali, closer as they are to the continental mass, respond more regularly to transmissions from culture-at-large. The Regione Autonoma Siciliana is, like all islands, the interface for … [Read more...]

Dronescapes in Red

Vittorio Gelmetti, Composer, Electronic Soundtrack for Il Deserto Rosso (Antonioni, 1964) –  The use of electronic music composed by Vittorio Gelmetti for the soundtrack of Antonioni's first color film Il Deserto Rosso, contributed greatly to the film's aesthetic complexity as well as the displaced psychological underpinnings of it's characters. Rarely heard before in cinema, this example of early musique concrète would serve as a harbinger of the now, widespread use of electronica in film and television. -NC Vittorio Gelmetti belongs among the earliest and most significant pioneers of electronic music, not only because his earliest compositions date to the mid-1950s, but also because he was self-taught and drew his inspiration not … [Read more...]

Back to Back at REDCAT – Friday, Night 1

Michiko Hirayama, Giacinto Scelsi, Canti Del Capricorno (1962-1972), REDCAT April 2, 2010 – "They are songs that explode classical convention: their vocal expressionism is ignited by the phonemes, not by any semantic content. Language seems to be atomized for all time. then an electrifying flow of sound is heard again, almost an archaic rite of evocation" - Jügen Kangold As Michiko Hirayama took to the stage at REDCAT on April 2nd I could tell that we were in for penny, in for a pound. This was no garden variety solo recital, for as she entered the darkened hall Hirayama beat the gong that hung around her neck as if a call to prayer. Theatricality aside, it was time to listen up. Canti Del Capricorno is Hirayama's signature work. … [Read more...]

Song Sourcing

Sicilian Folk Music and Luciano Berio – The immediate appeal of Luciano Berio's (October 24, 1925 – May 27, 2003) music is it's ability to be conspicuously theatrical and unflinchingly intimate at the same time. There is no better place to explore this dichotomy than in the ECM New Series recording based on Sicilian folk music, Voci.  Berio's dramatic compositions for viola and orchestra, Voci, and viola and percussion, Naturale, are sandwiched between a series of aural documents from the Ethnomusicology Archives of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome. These Sicilian songs form the starting points and the nuclei of a score lasting half an hour, six "core pieces" that the music heads toward and moves away from.* Berio … [Read more...]