For a long time we have been sensing the obligation and the urgency to pay homage to the countless individuals in our country who for many years have been working at the fringes of our music scene. We are referring to highly professional figures who deserve their place in the musical world and therefore in the record industry. This label is intended to launch a collection of CDs devoted to electronic music. This is a very significant undertaking because Italy prides itself in a large quantity of internationally distinguished repertoire. The bios of the composers featured in this anthology confirm it.
This label comprises themes that are acknowledged internationally and illustrates some ramifications of the complex subject matter. We go from improvisation to music from sound installations, from mathematical procedures to excerpts of our own classical musical heritage, to live-electronics that may be considered to consent more possibilities for experimentation. From the actuality of programming electronic instruments (with the tendency to restore electro-acoustic music its flexibility of the mechanic-acoustics of our instrument making tradition) to the habitual approach of recording a “tape” that contains a fixed piece that is so complex in its production that it cannot be performed live.
XXI Musicale comes from the motivation to enlighten the fact Italy has a state-of-the-art electro-acoustic production level and we can create a community and a public that can convene by listening to the music and the delve in the concepts that support the sound. In fact, due to the variety of approaches and most diverse instrumental typologies, electronic music ironically demands a divergence of our perception sound and concepts rather than the methods applied; in this sense I would like to call it “acoustic” music rather than electronic music. This music implies an inherent attention to sound more than to the musical note. Even though the note (notation) is one of the most important inventions in western music, the note as a cipher no longer satisfies the acoustic evolution of the sound phenomena applied by many contemporary composers, especially in non-conventional modes of music production (this issue was raised by E. Varčse at the dawn of the 20th century). Therefore once again we find ourselves at a primordial state where the concept of notation needs to expand in principles and functions. This does not only apply to electronic music. The “adventures” of 20th century notation are well-known (the most interesting suggestions were always the ones supported by a musical concept rather than just a symbol); the electronic “scores”, that in most cases are a proposal of notation rather than a new array of universally accepted rules, are a complex testimony that needs to be explored further. Very often the musician creating music with electronic sounds acts upon parameters that are not easily translated into signs and symbols on a graphic score. Are we perhaps contending with the resurgence of the composer/performer status? Has this conflict/duality always been implicit in western music? Are we back to a primordial musical state? In a condition where the praxis of the instrument suggests new solutions? The excessive distance and abstraction in the relationship between sound and action has held one of the major disputes of contemporary music. What does the future hold? Is the computer truly becoming the musical instrument of the 21st century as the piano was in the 19th century? And from this newly gained immediacy in the praxis of the performing art, what type of music or concert (if it is still appropriate to use this word) will develop? What significance does a concert with traditional instruments have in a time when one can create virtual instruments, through for example physical modelling, whose characteristics can be abnormal, unrealistic and with no reference to any physical object? What is the lifetime of the instruments that the computer music composer constructs for himself and for others? Will their flexibility impose new possibilities and potentials or will they only be used once for a single work? Will they have to be constructed again from scratch for every new work? The concept of a virtual instrument expands the very definition of an instrument and carries us towards the projection of what I would define instruments of a musical contemplation whose potential is up to us to determine. The “electronic composer” can work directly on the concept and only at a later stage create the instrument that will support and conceive it. Due to the complex music production and the attention devoted to the detail of certain minimal parameters, real time performance can be a difficult task and therefore one can always choose to secure the music onto an archival format such as a tape.
We are therefore at the dawn of a new era (that already testifies some decades of history) where the medium employed is in rapid and often substantial transformation. The intention with which we are commencing this adventure is to represent as best we can the panorama of Italian electro-acoustic music. The procedure is not easy and is of course a utopia but we hope to be able to conduct this together for the community of people that wishes to support this task through listening and participating.
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