Cecilia Arditto

Post Term: extended techniques

Tissue (2019)

for orchestra
1st prize Rychenberg Competition, Winterthur, Switzerland
Based on the photo series “Wounds of violence” by Adél Koleszár.

The human skin has its sonic representation on the whole orchestra like a flexible and elastic body, represented by big percussion instruments: timpani, thunder sheet, bass drum, lion’s roar, and tam-tam Big surfaces of skin, wood, metal, string and paper are hit, rubbed, stroked, scratched, and touched with the fingers by the percussionists, echoed by the rest of the orchestra. It is a “concerto” for big surfaces, where the soloists are not only the percussionists but “the matter itself.” The orchestra doesn’t play “around” or “with” the players but “inside”: in an implosive gesture, the percussionists “swallow” the orchestra which is playing from the heart of their matter. The orchestral tissue expands and contracts in various levels: density (from solos to full divisi), rhythm, and tone division (going from small microtones to wide intervals). Ornaments and microtones in this piece are used mainly to create textures, crafting the sound from “inside out” and modeling micro-variations. As a cantus firmus, Tissue uses a traditional Mexican song, “La llorona (The weeping woman”) close to the spirit of Adél Koleszár’s geographical and emotional landscapes. Lyrics refer to romantic love, mainly as suffering and death, and women as an object to be deathly loved and consequently disposed of.

Audio
Video (version 1)
• Video  (version 2) final Rychenberg competition
• Video explanations (percussion extended techniques)
• Comments about the piece by C. Arditto

• Press

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Related works:

• Música invisible for flute (2003)
• Palabras / Words (2005)
• Life on Mars (2016)
• The dearest dream (2018)

 

 

Distancia de rescate (2018)

for 8 low strings based on the homonymous novel by Samanta Schweblin
commissioned by Innovations in Concert, Montreal

Distancia de rescate is based on the homonymous award-winning novel (“Fever dream” in the English translation) by the Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin. My piece is inspired by the psychological atmosphere of the novel and its fascinating polyphonic structure, which inspired me to write a piece for a big ensemble.
In the novel, the characters are attached to each other by a “psychological string” which expands and stretches depending on emotional content, mostly related to fear. In my composition, the cellos are physically attached to each other by strings, one resonating on another. Extra pieces of strings tied to the instruments bridges and tailpieces connect literally each other occupying the stage.
Distancia de rescate is also a trip inside the deep heart of the string. Its sound world is based on the natural harmonic series, finding unexpected patterns in the upper harmonic series of the string. These bright and fragile sounds are like crystals found in the earthy residual tones of the strings.
• Video

Related works:

• Música invisible for cello (2008-2018)
• Circo Calder (2000)
• #4. “Electricité” from Musique Concrète -project page

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Distancia de rescate, for 8 low strings, stage disposition.

 

 

 

 

Viaje de las frecuencias en el agua / Travel of frequencies on the water (2018)

for bass clarinet, piano and double bass
dedicated to Low Frequency Trio
winner of the Low Frequency Trio competition

Viaje de las frecuencias en el agua (Travel of frequencies on the water) was inspired by von Karman vortex street’s theory, which studies repeated patterns in fluids, as swirling spirals in smoke rings or winds surrounding a tropical cyclone.
In my piece, the fluid medium is the water, played in a literal way by using a straw and a siphon; the bass clarinet is also prepared with water inside its bell, which causes fascinating acoustical phenomena. In analogy with von Karman’s theory, which amalgams the vulnerability of fluids with the power of the force that molds them, my music combines the fragility of sound with the solid rhythmical structure of the music.
Viaje de las frecuencias en el agua is dedicated to my father, eternal lover of the utopias of Jules Verne and to trioLF3, my musical submarine.

• Audio
• Video

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Related post/s in my blog

“Las versiones y las obras” (English)

Related works:
• La madre del río / the mother of the river (1997 – rev. 1999)
• Maps of the Water (2007)

 

 

The air around (2012)

for 13 prepared electric fans

In my orchestration book, electric fans are classified in diverse instrumental families considering diverse features: they undoubtedly belong to the wind family; they are on top of that, noise generators; from a kinetic perspective they are members of the instruments “that spins around.” Multiple interpretations of the same allow a special interconnection between objects, spreading the chamber music experience into a unique personal listening.

“A choir of small ventilators, that like a mechanical garden, move their heads bringing sound and movement to the music.”

The more concrete, the more abstract

Rather than prescribing an ideal music of the future, Schaeffer’s didacticism
requires us to submit to a process in which sound is re-imagined or experienced anew, and new effects of listening are discovered and learned.

 Ian Stevenson, Schaeffer’s sound effects

The fan is attached to the sounds as much of the sound is attached to the fan. We cannot conceive the machine without the sound, or the sound without the machine: one refers to the other. But when the fan is on stage making music, the sound appears to lose its inherent connection to its source and becomes an independent phenomenon: we start hearing the fan as a music instrument. After this switch in our mind, we can focus on the sound itself: its overtones, pitch, colored noise, residual tones, and all kinds of glorious “side- effects”. Curious enough, the production of fresh air, the main purpose in any electric fan, becomes something completely irrelevant. When the fan goes musical, the sound can be undoubtedly routed with its source without losing its identity: it looks like a fan, it sounds like a fan, it is a fan!. Even the modifications applied to the sound by the use of “extended techniques” enhancing and preserve the nature of the sound as two sides of the same process.

“everyday listening, which identifies sound sources as objects or events; and musical listening, which focuses on the intrinsic properties or features of sounds.”

William Gaver, How do we hear in the world?

When a fan is performing in a concert hall, this new context brings new associations and displacements in our minds. We can concentrate more easily on the sounds because the device is on stage. Same as we focus on the textures, colors, size, and position of Duchamp’s porcelain urinal because it is shown in an art gallery. Context is substantial.

Matter matters
What is music? What is a sound object? This unanswered question triggers all kinds of different theories and works, inspiring not only the composition of new music but mainly changing our way of listening.

• Video (excerpts)
• Photo gallery

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Anthropology of trash (2020)

for alto flute and objects as found in the containers (ca 22’)
I.Textiles  II.Glass III. Plastic IV. Paper  V.Metal
dedicated to Alu Montorfano

 

Anthropology of trash explores the sound quality of discarded objects. This title is inspired by the branch of modern anthropology that deals with the Theory of Thing. Anthropology of trash makes music with materials already classified (orchestrated) in the recycle containers: textiles, paper, glass, plastic and metal. The outcome of this sound exploration is can be defined as liminal, unplugged electronics, without equipment. Minimal amplification emphasizes the use of organized objects organized in the musical score.

 

Anthropology of trash transforms simple materials into refined sounds

The alto flute plays subtle sounds focused on the emission of sound itself. The flute techniques focus on the action of the lips, tongue and glottis and the modulation of the sound by the opening of the oral cavity. The music also works with the internal turbulence of polyphonic sounds.
The flute in Anthropology of trash is an extension of the human body. The simple objects founded on the trash cans come directly from the immediate world around us. Both the sound from the flute and the sounds from the objects refer to our everyday world. A known and familiar world, that through the composition process acquires an abstract and a poetic condition.
Objects are on stage with the flute: a sophisticated musical instrument coming from the classical tradition. This combination enhances the sound qualities of the simple means.
Contemporary anthropology reflects on objects (Theory of Thing) and their role in our consumer society. Our music too. Anthropology of trash makes chamber music with the objects, transforming them into refined musical instruments. This usage is a re-appropriation, a confrontation to a market that decides what is obsolete or what is not. This categorization not only defines objects but also people and ideologies. Our objects are now, empowered on stage. Their sounds are written in a music score having because of that “eternal life.” This act of re-appropriation of forgotten things is not related to the idea of nostalgia but to resistance and change.

Anthropology of trash stage design

 

Techs/props:

– Minimal amplification for flute and percussion table (see diagram)
– Two music stands with lights
– Percussion table (or any table)
2 microphone stands without the mics (only the stands)

Related works:

• Anatomy of a jar (2020)
• Música invisible for flute (2003)
• Musique Concrète
• The dearest dream (2018)

 

 

 

Tissue (2019) – Analysis

Tissue (2019)

Links for videos showing the percussion techniques used in Tissue and its notation.
Cecilia Arditto, composition
Youji Shian, Percussion
Conservatory of Amsterdam, June 2019

Crotale on Timpani

https://vimeo.com/345243357


Chinesse cymbal on Timpani

https://vimeo.com/345244154


Singing on Timpani

https://vimeo.com/345242308


Singing on Bass drum

https://vimeo.com/345242683


Thunder sheet played with comb

https://vimeo.com/345244943


Bass drum played with fingers

https://vimeo.com/345246123


Tam tam with Bass drum mallets, center and edge

https://vimeo.com/345246071

SEE SCORE

AUDIO

RELATED WORKS:

 

Maps of the Water (2007)

for solo percussion
dedicated to Arnold Marinissen

“The Cartographer prefers to measure the land with sound waves”.

The whole piece represents a map drawn with sounds. It comprehends different sections: water, metal, wood and skin, modulating from one texture to another in analogy to a traveler exploring different geographies.
Four bags full of water are constantly dropping from the beginning until the end of the piece, adding a rhythmical “water-envelope” and a strong visual component.

Related post/s in my blog :
“Laberintos” (Español)

Related works:

• La madre del río / the mother of the river (1997 – rev. 1999)
• Viaje de las frecuencias en el agua / Travel of frequencies on the water (2018)

 

La madre del río / the mother of the river (1997 – rev. 1999)

for four percussionists 
dedicated to Carmelo Saitta
1st Prize Concurso de composición CEAMC 1997   

La madre del río/the mother of the river is based on the ideas of Carmelo Saitta, who conceives the percussion-set as a full orchestra. He organizes percussion instruments and props in groups and families attending its acoustical properties.
La madre del río is an anti-percussive piece mostly composed with long sustained sounds with a soft attack, played with the hands, fingers and nails. A set of wine glasses conforms a crystal orchestra tuned in quarter tones which plays together with a glissing vibraphone. Many other instruments in La madre del río are distorted by the literal use of water, which filters their sounds, producing quasi electronic sounds without electronics.
The piece is based on the Argentine popular story La madre del río which talks about the reflection of a mythological character on the rivers and her self-destructive power when in contact with men.

“Nobody has ever seen the Majuy Mama. There were those who saw the reflection of her hair as she sank in the Argentinean northern rivers. Some say she is a river mermaid. Others speak about a hen that sinks with its chicks or a black horse in the mountain rivers whose long tail can be seen. When she is a mermaid, she bathes in the rivers and wraps with her hair the fish that she loves the most. If a man sees her, he absorbs all of a sudden her complete happiness. The Majuy Mama, in excruciating pain, raises waves with her tail, and bumping herself against the stones, disappears in the deep waters. The happiness of some is the sadness of others.”

• Audio

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Related works:

• Maps of the Water (2007)
• Viaje de las frecuencias en el agua / Travel of frequencies on the water (2018)

 

Cuarteto (1996)

Cuarteto is inspired by the Sederunt Principes by Perotin, a four-voice chant setting (organum quadruplum) composed in the XIII century. Sederunt Principes is presumably the first polyphonic composition for four voices, where colorful textures and ingenious motivic games come together at the end of every phrase. This phrasing in arcs was a conventional technique in the late medieval polyphony, rooted in the Gregorian chant, reminding the pillars of Gothic cathedrals.
Cuarteto utilizes vocal techniques from the XX avant-garde inspired on the exuberance of this pioneering masterpiece from the Middle Ages. It also addresses its arc form. Both pieces, Cuarteto and the Sederunt Principes, even with a completely different outcome, share similar composition technics and a close spirit.

• Audio 

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Related works:

• Las ciudades y los signos (SATB)
• Anatomy of a jar (2020)