Light

Categories: Elettroacustica
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Published on: 29 July 2008

AGP ha ripubblicato recentemente alcune incisioni di musica elettronica degli anni ’80 che trovate nell’archivio ai numeri 106, 107, 108 da dove potete scaricarle in FLAC.

Proprio quest’ultimo contiene due brani di Tod Machover, compositore americano del 1953 molto attivo anche in area multimediale.

Qui vi faccio ascoltare Light, un pezzo del 1979 scritto per l’Ensemble Intercontemporain più due flussi elettronici preregistrati ottenuti mediante elaborazione di suoni strumentali.

L’autore spiega in dettaglio il brano:

The piece takes its title from a quote by Rider Haggard, the English fantasy author: “Occasionally one sees the Light, one touches the pierced feet, one thinks that the peace which passes understanding is gained – then all is gone again.” The atmosphere and expressive content of the work reflect these words, which also influenced the choice and treatment of musical materials.

From a single melody (heard in entirety only at the climax of the piece) a complex polyphony is developed that creates layers of simultaneously overlapping, shifting musical planes, like independent clouds that move each at its own speed, and part momentarily to allow rays of light to pass through. Each of these layers is characterized by a different musical elaboration of the same basic materials. The largest contrast is between the instrumental ensemble (14 players) and two separate computer-generated 4track tapes. Each of these tapes represents a different (and opposing) approach to the elaboration of musical structures. The first uses traditional instrumental timbres and playing techniques as a starting point and transcends the “normal” by extending past the human capacities. The second explores microscopic details of sounds derived from these same instruments, although the connection between the two worlds is made clear only gradually during the course of the piece.

The instrumental ensemble is musically situated between these two approaches. It is divided into four sub groups (string quartet; woodwind quartet; piano, harp and wood/skin percussion; trumpet, trombone and metal percussion), each of which develops a distinct set of musical tendencies, and possesses a clear timbral identity. The piece was conceived for IRCAM’s experimental concert hall, or Espace de Projection, where all acoustical and physical characteristics are controllable. The instrumental ensembles are placed in the four comers of the room, on platforms, with the public seated in the middle. Tape I is distributed through 4 speakers, one placed over each instrumental group, thus emphasizing the “instrumental” departure point for this tape’s electronic sound. Tape II emanates from a set of 4 speakers placed on the ceiling of the hall, to exaggerate the separateness of this ethereal and delicate murmuring that develops gradually into the thunderous crashes that mark the climax of the piece.

The piece begins by emphasizing the distinctness of all its various layers. Each group follows its own developmental principles in a section that culminates in a series of cadenzas. After each group has had its say, all material is combined in the large solo of Tape I which builds until the first crashes of Tape II. In the quiet that follows, a new, more homogeneous order is built up gradually, and leads to a final section of delicate chamber music, where equality prevails among all the diverse elements. The main harmony of the piece provides the basis for a meditative coda, which dissolves into the isolation and bareness of the final piano notes, a shadow of the defiance and brilliance shown by the same instrument at other points of the piece.

The musical form is dramatic, the expressive mood quite romantic, and both are founded on a conviction of mine: that faced with todafs confusing kaleidoscope of equally valid parallel lifestyles, cultures and ideas, the only response is to search quietly but resolutely for a deeper truth, perhaps out of nostalgia for a lost simplicity, but hopefully from a courage aid belief in a “new order” of synthesis and unity behind the surface choas. It is this search that I have tried to portray in Light.

Tod Machover – Light (1979), per ensemble e suoni elettronici
Members of the Ensemble InterContemporain with two computer-generated tapes. Conducted by Peter Eötvös. Computer parts realized at IRCAM, Paris.

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