Contemporary Music Review

ISSN: 0749-4467 (Print) 1477-2256 (Online) Journal homepage:

Walking with Gigi

Roberto Fabbriciani

To cite this article: Roberto Fabbriciani (1999) Walking with Gigi, Contemporary Music Review,
18:1, 7-15, DOI: 10.1080/07494469900640031

To link to this article:

Published online: 20 Aug 2009.

Submit your article to this journal

Article views: 100

View related articles

Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at

Download by: [University of Sydney Library] Date: 02 September 2016, At: 18:42

art.together with all the vague con- notations associated with that adjective. describing our very special creative relationship. 1999. Vol. The initial phase of our collaboration served above all. He knew that I was passionately devoted to contemporary music. I could sense I was about to acquire an extraordinary professional experience. I was absolutely fascinated by his char- acter which I would define as "strange' . pp. The idea of a future collaboration with him filled me with enthusiasm . Printed in India. new possibilities. error. KEY WORDS: Venice. sound mobility and notation. that that very sensation of the new / unknown. Of course I already knew and loved his music but I could never have imagined the effect that personal encoun- ter would have on me. I speak of Our method of experimentation and discovery and of Nono's view of live electronics. Gigi most pragmatically wanted to know exactly what he could expect from me professionally. that of composer and executant. Part 1... I became involved in the investigative ap- proach of his. one which would be completely new and unlike anything I had experienced to date. I also assert the need for the establishing of a consistent and faithful approach to the performance of Nono's works. for us to get to know each other.electrifying enthusiasm. live electronics.Contemporary Music Review 9 1999OPA (OverseasPublishers Association)N. 7-15 Published by license under Reprints available directly from the publisher the Harwood AcademicPublishers imprint. philosophy. space. Walking with Gigi Roberto Fabbriciani In the following artide I speak of my long and close collaboration with Luigi Nono. introspection.V. mobile sound. drove me on towards ~ work with particular interest. Photocopying permitted by license only part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group. penetrating eyes and the sweet lilt of his Venetian dialect were a continual reminder of the poetry of his thought and richness of his feeling. often going to visit him at his home on the island of Giudecca in Venice. That noble figure. 18. music. I have no doubt. I first met Luigi Nono in Milan in 1978. but he was not familiar with m y ideas regarding experimentation. politics~ research. On misty days one's gaze drifted through boundless . He lived on the top floor of an old building overlooking a garden on the edge of the lagoon.

On mild early summer evenings one watched the sun set on the shimmering lagoon. inviting him to push forward with his instrument. which are always possible. philosophy and politics. its combination and correlation with the environment and the instrumentalist himself. This tawny dog must have sensed it had found a very special master when it followed Gigi home one day and refused to leave. From this type of experience is born new pos- sibilities for the transformation of musical thought and knowledge neces- sary for composition. In this way the extraordinary and boundless ideas of the composer. Referring to live electron- ics Gigi said: . I would accompany Gigi back home where his dog. By this I am mean- ing. while listen- ing to the joyful cries of children in their last minutes of play in the nearby calli 1. Towards the end of 1979 we were able to work together at Das Experi- mentalstudio Der Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung in Freiburg. our relationship acquired coordinates of interaction of absolute and essential complementarity. Nono used to say: "One progresses between continual research and technical errors which are immediately of interest as they can be considered a break from the familiar and the established norm. I cherish an intense memory of these images and within me still dwells the clear sense of tran- quillity and calm satisfaction that they instilled." Losing the fear of taking a wrong path allows error to become a further stimulus in the search for new horizons. sometimes taking the boat out for a swim and then ending up in a trattoria 2 for some black squid risotto. and the sometimes curious reactions of the instruments. barking and wagging its tail. yet feeling professionally enriched and stimulated towards new horizons. In accordance with Wittgenstein's theory that science progresses by error. we on many occasions confirmed that errors could suddenly open up other possibilities. were able to awaken the creativity of the executant. We spent those Venetian days talking about music. I would leave the Giudecca carrying the instru- ments we had not touched all day. With this attitude of mind. technical errors. would run to meet us. human relationship which provided me with an incentive to renew m y thoughts and research in music. walking through the calli. beneath squealing swallows calling good-night. which might stimulate progression towards infinitely new ways of perceiving and making music.8 RobertoFabbriciani silence pierced by occasional whistles from boats. I now believe those walks were the start of a great friendship and meaningful. This period was initially useful for systematic analysis and an increasing awareness of other possibilities of instrumental sound. Carlotta. Looking back. A precondition to this new way of thinking was a total openness towards e~cery internal and external impulse. art. along the canals. towards the extreme and unusual limits of his skill.

we were never certain of the end. what I call acoustic dramatics was audible. once the visual element has been overcome. with various transformations in real time. spatial projection. traditional form. and with ourselves and the instruments. recording. We beganlong experimental sessions which lasted up to two weeks. The executant pro- Fosed and the composer chose. with the desire to explore the amazing undercurrents of sound.. delay. generated new ideas and opened the way to numerous innovations. a perfect example of this is Prometeo in which the listening is pure. the works of Nono are a "scene" complete in them- selves. Nono knew that in order to maximise the potential offered by these tech- niques it was necessary to form executants who could interact with the electronic system as sensitively as with their own instruments. not to produce effects which were all end in themselves.. pitch shift (harmon- iser). totally in- terdependent with the interpreter since the machine acted on the resulting sound in relation to opportune and specific actions of the executant. Such treatments would include: amplification. in playful and reciprocated provoca- tion. we were spurred on by the desire to experiment to the utmost limits with our instruments. With the elim- ination of all distraction. and Gigi. after days spent in the studio in Freiburg. how- ever they were used with such a variety of applications and in such varied contexts. Tech- nically. Sometimes. since these could create a superficial lis- tening. Within these sonorities he would then look for stimuli to new ways of thinking and listening. with the use of the Halophon 3 and the possibility of activating four or five different spatial routes simultaneously. With humility. the live electronics consisted of only a few sound treatments. filtering and mixing. with a view to using them organically in the drawing up of a piece. I realised that with one sin- gle instrument. Live electronics became a structural component of his music. Nono was cautious in his use of live electronics. Simple banalities would disappoint.. would throw it all away. we abandoned all the work done and set off again in the direction of an extraordinary and beautiful universe. that often the original score was unrecognisable. It was . feasible and inventible." The urge t. a readi- ness to savour every little change loaded with significance and to generate strong emotions against any established. and though conscious of the beginning. I used to experiment on the basis of his requests and often I creat- ed systems for realising futuristic sound worlds by means of the flute. His aim was in fact to produce a more conscious listening. cataloguing and refining the products of our experimentation. The novelty of being able to take advantage of these techniques in real time..o take new paths was constant: Nono would ask me to realise extraordinary sounds on the very edge of the audible/inaudible. Walkingwith Gigi 9 "All of a sudden I was completely overwhelmed by the need to listen and also by the problem- atic and enormous tension which listening itself could bring about.

which would lead to prescribed methods B he preferred a provocative approach with an openness towards an infinity of potential meanings. He himself maintained that he did not wish to write definitive laws. but rather one to encourage introspection and deep thought. it would obviate a certain deplorable and harmful super- ficiality with which this music is sometimes met. consisting not only of technical speed but of a remarkable ability to realise sound with many shades of colour. This provocative approach was not so much a destabilising doctrine. ignoring universally codified traditional techniques. which in turn must not result in a superficial or inaccurate interpretation. in vari- ous manuscripts we see the name of the performer at the start of the line before the usual abbreviated form of the instrument (see figures 1 & 2). In this way one would solve the problem of inscrutabRity and the criticism often levelled at his scores for their being difficult to decode. From this we derived greater awareness of sound mobility during execu- tion (which we defined as sound transitions. Nono loathed the traditional staticity of sound and searched for a sound which was mobile in emission and also in spatialisation (for him. As a testament to this. We thus have a group of musicians skilled in the execution of his scores beyond the notations and who have personally experienced and savoured. after all the executant is both singer and interpreter. step by step. One might call it a new virtuosity. Likewise the choice of the piece was often suggested by the ianderstanding established between Nono and these performers. The executants difficulty is clearly seen here. Luigi Nono had a very dose. This explains the difficulty of the codification peculiar to his music. with per- formers who have worked with the composer for a long t ~ e and with great commitment. from a simple and essential sign. for me.10 RobertoFabbriciani equally vita/to build an understanding between the executants and the sound engineers of the live electronics. All of this. space was a fundamental component of composition). with the interpreta- tion of his own aesthetics. points towards an important objective and one which I now consider to be essential: the creation of a Nono tradition. representing stages of non- certainty) and also the awareness of the mystery attached to the production . by the extrapolation of a complex and heterogen- eous meaning. the path of experimentations which led to the final result. subtle nuance and unusual dynamic control. interdependent relationship with his performers and in many cases this collaboration lasted a number of years. in addition. giving guidance on the achievement of faithful interpreta- tions of his music. Along our path of experimentation there were many examples of obser- vation on sound which gave rise to successive reflections: one idea was to explore the fraction of time interposed between the desire in the mind of the executant to produce a sound and the actual production of the mobile tone.

The mi- crophone made it possible to exalt the "shadow tones" with their resultant partials.. (London) Ltd. j | Figure 2 L. Ricordi) reproduced by kind permission of G. In keeping with this. Emission is breath. of sound in total negation of every established form. and the performer. Figure I L.OMAGGIO A GYORGY KURT2~G / Inizio (Ed. where the instrument and the microphone experienced a dynamic relationship nourished by mutual needs. Das atmende Klarsein represents the first realisation . the microphone was not used statically but became an extension of the instrument. source of life and it is the generating force of Das atmende Klarsein. WalkingwithGigi 11 | 11 ~ Erf-~l a r m. N O N O . as if taking on a new life.. N O N O . I remember the walks with Gigi along the paths of the Black Forest near Freiburg: he breathed deeply inviting me to do the same. Ricordi) reproduced by kind permission of G. The vitality of this piece is set in the freedom of an intoxicating breath. it became possible to spatialise gradations of sound: "sinusoidal" or "pure sounds" derived from researching dynamics at the very limits of aud- ibility and with total emission control.PROMETEO / 3a-4a-Sa Isola (Ed. Ricordi Co. Ricordi & Co. (London) Ltd. anemos.

"mobile tone" can be accomp- fished in different ways depending on the instrument but it always implies an articulation of micro-intervals or a tone variation even if the note is static. For this reason oral communication was of utmost import- ance.: c') arc klcludcd in thc following range: . d Thc prescncc of ~ac ~tndamc~ai note. . "pitched air" and also articulations of the "air-tone-air" or "Tibetan/tone" type (the latter be- ing a term to indicate a tone modulation similar to a jew's harp). Figure 3 L.. in passageswith very so~ dynamics the Flute player must play nc~ly in contnct with thc microphones.OMAGGIOA GYORGYKURT. It is a new sound event and a new and provocative listening. 4 & 5 below: "suono ombra + colicn" : in this piccc thc term "colicn" mcans "whistle-tones". ~ .~ . .it. . For the bass flute: "very high micro mobile aeolian tones with shadow tone" or "never allow the attack or the end of the sound to be heard" or "with whistle broken off. For examples of some of the above see figures 3. Ayacucho. inquietum. A Pierre. Ricordi& Co. Thus many signs and words present in the manuscripts serve to indicate a type of sound. a new virtuosity is required of him or her. gcncrally. "with whistling". Caminantes ." The particular nature of the composer-performer relationship is emphasised: the interpreter is the "cantore' (singer) and. The word "micro" stands for varied intonation at micro-intervals less than that of the quarter tone in relation to the written note.~G Notes (Ed. (London)Ltd. Prometeo.. Here are some examples: for voice and wind instruments there are frequent instructions such as "tone and breath". NONO -. intermittently appears and disappears like a sh~iow (suono-ombra). Dell "azzurro silenzio. The colicn a~c thcrcforc uppcr partials isolatcd and intensified within a given sound sp~trum. 3 "Baab-arr". Guai ai gelidi mostri. There then followed: Quando stanno morendo. Ricordi) reproduced by kind permissionof G. . In this k/nd of cmission and.Thc pitches of those partials (fundamental note. allow to leave suspended. performance procedure or a process of transforma- tion agreed verbally or already part of the group's musical vocabulary. Omaggio a Gy6rgy Kurtdg. The pathway was one of increased rarefac- tion of the scoring corresponding to an increase of significances. since all traditional form is denied. Diario polacco N. finishing with Post- Prae-Ludium No. The musical text was the basis but many sound parameters could not be codified in the writing because they lay outside the traditional criteria for music making. 2.12 RobertoFabbriciani of our walk together.

a n d m a y serve to fur- ther illustrate his aims a n d the nature of o u r collaboration: . N O N O . just a hint of a tone) Figure 4 L. (London) Ltd. WalkingwithGigi 13 .PROMETEO / Interludio I (Ed. Figure 5 L.. (London) Ltd.Pdcordi). reproduced by kind permission of G. (ftmdameotal tone gradually becoming perceptible 9< 2>o . 6~ Ltr. 1:t ~L i! -..s . . reproduced by kind permission of G. Ricordi & Co. .NONO--DasatmendeklarseinExplanationsforbassflute(Ed. _~_ L. " ~" r "f Lr-/.f ~whistle-tone" (from • to woe) ! I aeolian tone (gradually becoming perceptible o< >o ) ! I finger position. t. Ricordi & Co. The following (figure 6) w a s written b y N o n o to me. Ricordi).

still preserved and self-preserving.i sorprendenti per altrettante sorprendenti qualil~ di Roberlo nella Iormazione anche di sinusoidi neUa emissione e nelrimmissione del liato.virluosi-velocisii. |isica-tecnologia. nelruso del microfono come nuovo strumento a |iato. informa) tra rlnaudibile trasporto ~ ira magici .. or knowledge amid experimentation often with a surprise content amid surprises often disturbing by nature (the Black Forest which embraces us informs) amid the inaudible rapture "contemplated" amid magical "contem- plations" on the infinity of the sea. like the impassioned knowledge of the ancient singers of great Hebrew laments (including the use of the micro- interval) "provocation" for continual c o m p a r i s o n . sulrinfinilo del mare. 6/5]1983.confirmation m analysis. pc. per continua con|erma-con(ronti-analisi. o della sapienza ira sperimentazione spesso a sorpresa ira sorprese spesso sconvolgentl per naturalezza (la Foresla m surprising spaces for equally surprising qualities of Rober- to in the production of sinusoidals in the emission and in- take of breath.NONO--ScrittosuRobertoFabbriciani / FreiburginB. memory: di allre. impieloso verso i . sug- gestions in the exciting practical experience of the "live electronics" studio in Freiburg physics . che ci "provocation" at the qualitative splendour of new dawns. Nono on Roberto Fabbriciani/Freiburg 6 / 5 / 1983 . memories of other knowledge. L. Roberto Fabbriciani.14 RobertoFabbriciani Di Roberlo Fabbriciani o della -nuova provocazione. Figure6 L. Roberto Fabbri- ciani. suggerimenti nella pratica esaltanle dello studio . come quella appassionala degli ant~chi cantorl dei grandi lamenti ebraici {lino all'uso del micro-intervallo) . di Friburq in A B. pitiless towards the qualitative worthless breathless "virtuosos of velo- city". The English translation of the above is now given: On Roberto Fabbriciani or on the "new provocation" for the infinite worlds to invent to discover with the flute "provocation" of changing knowledge. gli in[inili rnondi a invenlave a scoprire con il flauto . 9provocazione. a splendore qualilativo di nuove albe. di innovante sapienza. tultora conservati e conservanii. in the use of the microphone as a new wind electronics.. quantitativi scadenli a perdiliato.pensied.

3 "BAAB-ARR'. Electronic system for the spatialisation of sound in real-time. Notes 1. . invented by Hans Peter Hailer and Peter Lawo at Das Experimentalstudio der Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung des Sud- westfunks e.V. WaUa'ngwithGigi 15 W e got as far as the Post-Prae-Ludium No. "the next time I'll write less!" W e p a r t e d w i t h an a r r a n g e m e n t to m e e t for the realisation of a n e w project of w h i c h this excerpt w a s to be part: "Manfred'. 2. After the p e r f o r m a n c e in the K a m m e r s a a l of the Berlin Philharmonie on 4th S e p t e m b e r 1988 Gigi smiled a n d said to me. Freiburg. 3. Modest eating-place. structured on one single note w i t h all its possible universes. Venetian term to describe a narrow lane.