THE EXPANDED BODY – Concert III

This third concert will explore the function of the body in musical performance, with reference both to the bodies of performers and instruments. Experiments will be made with extreme situations of embodiment of technology into the sounding objects (instruments) or into the body of the performers. This could happen in different ways, for example attaching a camera or a pico-projector to a performer’s wrist; or embedding a contact speaker into an instrument, a person (!) or an object, in order to transform it into a resonating body (and being able to make it resonate by itself, like in the piece “Perturbance” by A. Perini, which will be included in the program).

The concert will start with a performer equipped with contact microphones embedded in his/her shoe soles, reaching the concert venue from a specific place; the audience listens to the wireless streaming of the sound in the concert room until the performer opens the door and enters; the correspondence between the sound and the “augmented” performer is then revealed.

The program will also include :

  • “Piece” for trombone and electronics by Kaj Duncan David, a work that makes use of an augmented plunger mute which incorporates a speaker. This way, the plunger acts as a traditional filter for the trombone sound, but also as a sound source (at times filtered by the trombone’s bell).
  • “Mutations” for clarinet with 3D printed reed and tape, by Panayiotis Kokoras, a piece that uses the virtual mean not only to expand the original sound of the instrument but also to modify the instrument in his own body.
  • A new work for two singers, double bass, guitar, piano and flute  by Jonatan Sersam will be premiered that’ll make use of contact microphones and tactile speakers. This equipment will lead to a sort of augmented performer, able not only to produce sounds with his/her expanded limbs (we think for example of contact microphones attached to the performers and the instruments) but also to enlarge the perception of what happens in the concert room thanks to his/her cybernetic ears/eyes. We take as a bibliographical reference the research of Australian artist Stelarc, which had a web-connectable ear implanted in his arm. Through the newly written piece we will make clear that the performer and the expansion of the body have become one, making the equipment used not just a superimposed level of expression (as with instrument+tape foor instance) but a means for experiencing things (sounds, images, movements) in a new way. A preliminary research on the relationship between music and the presence of the performer on stage will be crucial. An idea that is currently being explored is to amplify the vibrations coming from the heads, or the sculls of the singers, and to let these vibrations travel into the piano, more specifcally to the cords. This way, we’ll have a  new set of “vocal cords”, that can resonate in the piano. The vibrations picked up from the heads are strongest when vocalizing con bocca chiusa (with closed mouths). The result will not only expand the singers and the output they produce, but also the piano, which in this way becomes vocalized.  The piece will be presented as a set of shorter movements, based on texts by danish author Inger Christensen. 
  • A new short work by Alessandro Perini for two singers, where the “voice” is produced by speakers inserted into the performers’ mouth and modulated by their lips.

VIRTUALITY – Concert II

Did you already check out what we wrote about our concert series and about the first concert? Now we’ll tell you a bit more about the second concert, on the theme of “Virtuality”.

In this second concert intangible realms will be evoked. The concert will focus on the duality between the concrete presence of a body (as a person or as an object) and the abstract essence of electronic sound, virtual networks, video-projected images as doors to another dimension.

The program for this concert will include the virtual human presence in two different forms: two pieces from the well-know series “Voices and piano” by Ablinger present a virtual person under the shape of a voice, while the duality of the clarinetist and an interviewed condemned to death is the core concept of Jacob TV’s “Grab it”.

We also think it’s important to play a piece by Luigi Nono in order to show how the environment created by the live electronics system starting from the tuba’s sound is really something different from other live-electronics approaches, where the processing of the sound still leaves quite a big space for the instrument. In Nono’s music the performer almost disappears, and all of his/her energy is transformed into soundscape. The piece we chose is “Post-Præludium per Donau” for tuba and live electronics.

A new work written by Francesco Del Nero will complete the concert program. A piece which represents a sort of journey into the mind of the author and in which the virtuality will have both the function of creating a soundscape around the audience and the function of a character, bringing it from a real world to the surreal world of the dream.

Stay tuned for our next posts!

MATTER – Concert I

In this previous post, we presented the general concept behind our concert series called “Matter, Virtuality and the Expanded Body”. In this post we are presenting the preliminary ideas regarding the first concert, “Matter”.

The first concert will present a blend of works in which the materiality of the tangible world is put into focus. On one hand, music in which the traditional instruments are used in a way that underlines their concrete nature as objects; on the other hand, compositions that make use of objects in a musical way. In both cases, amplification by means of standard condenser microphones or contact microphones may be used in order to put the sound under a sort of sonic magnifying glass and highlight its most concrete nature.

The program of this concert will include, among the others, Giacinto Scelsi’s “Ko-tha”, excerpts from Crumb’s “Makroksmos, vol. 1” for solo amplified piano and Michael Maierhof’s “Shopping 4”. The program has the aim to span from some of the historical milestones which moved the focus of composition to a particularly physical approach to sound, to works which imply amplification in order to let the audience experience a new perspective of listening on the timbre of the instruments. In fact, a piece by Alessandro Perini will make use of metal-wire custom built swings hanging from the ceiling, equipped with contact mics for amplification of the most subtle sounds. These sounds could be meaningless to the audience’s ears without amplification, but contact mics will make them audible. By stretching the springs, performers will also be able to modulate the pitch of the sounds.

In one week we will talk about the second concert, “Virtuality”. Keep in touch!

 

Matter, virtuality and the expanded body

Matter, virtuality and the expanded body” is an experimental project resulting in three performances at the Inter Arts Center in Malmö. It’s a series of three concerts which build on close collaboration between the composers and performers involved with the aim of creating a performing arts collective that will explore the relationship between sound, body, the natural environment and the virtual realm and the purpose to frame with a curatorial approach different kinds of artistic expression related to sound.

This will be accomplished both by researching the existing repertoire and by producing new works as a way to develop ideas in a close composer-performer relationship. The duality between man and technology is nowadays an inescapable issue and will inform our compositional practice, our choice of the repertoire and our study of the pre-existent scores. Technology will be a means of shedding light on the ongoing processes (IoT, wearable tech, smart objects, smart cities) thanks to which devices are more and more invading our body, while our mind is losing its concrete link to the body itself, slowly becoming a detached entity on its own, and nevertheless isolated from the other minds. With this project we want to raise questions and foster the reflection on the unweighted balance between virtuality and the here-and-now, pointing out that the bias does reflect the lack of consciousness of our very materiality.

Each concert features one of the elements mentioned in the title: matter, or all the tangible reality that surrounds us, including our own and other people’s bodies; virtuality, or the immaterial world created by our minds, but also by technology, as an intangible presence; the expanded body, or the natural evolution/synthesis of the first two, in which the cybernetic practice starts to inform our life in two directions: towards the machine-like man with his extended senses and limbs, or towards the thinking machine interfacing with humans with his decisional brain.

The three concerts will take place in Spring 2017.