Cecilia Arditto

Post Term: scientific inspiration

Gestalt (2014)

for piano and percussion
dedicated to duo Cuenco de plata – Juanita Fernández y Malena Levín

Gestalt shows diverse forms of communication between two performers and how each way of relating generates different music structures (Gestalt). In between music, sound, and space design, Gestalt is music in the form of a treatise to be perceived in-between categories.

The piece is based on 10 sections in the form of scenes. Each scene speaks about different ways of relationships between performers, their link with objects, musical instruments and the design of the stage, which is changing over time.

  1. Proximity: Close objects conform a group
  2. Continuation: Moving objects conform a line
  3. Focal point – Point of interest captures attention
  4. Good continuation. Grouping parts into a unique whole
  5. Common region- Events are related when in the same area
  6. Figure and ground
  7. Similarity – Similar features link events
  8. Symmetry – Looking for balance in composition
  9. Common fate
  10. Past experiences

• Video

Related post/s in my blog
 “Si están cerca… Montevideo” (Español)
“Again” (Español)
“Trayectorias” (Español)

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Related works:

• The magic (2005)
• Esta tarde leo a Adorno / This afternoon I read Adorno (2013)

• Time machine (2011)
• Gespleten piano
• Split piano (2011)

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

Download score PDF

Send download link to:

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)



Palabras / Words (2005)

for soprano, viola, baritone saxophone and 1/16th tone piano.
comissioned by NFPK, Holland

Palabras uses words in two different ways: words as sounds, and words as meaning.
Written for 1/16 tone piano, saxophone, viola and voice, the microtonal division of the tones remains the fluctuation of the spoken voice.

The piece is divided into five different blocks of spoken language that go from the proper spoken voice (Part IV) to a melodic line (part II) which is sung by the four instruments. Every block or surface has a different quality in relation to different kinds of discourse.
Julian Carrillo,s  1/16 tone piano was a primary inspiration for this piece and its relation to the spoken voice. The microtonal divisions of the piano are in the frequency range of the spoken language.

• Audio
• Video (excerpts)
• Analysis
• Press

Related works:

• Música invisible for flute (2003)
• Life on Mars (2016)

The Cartography and the Magic (2005)

for soprano, baritone, oboe, harp and percussion.
part of the opera “The daughter of the sorceresses…”
can be performed independently

The piece is inspired by the dialectical relationship between chaos and order, being the mathematical structure the frame for aleatoric behaviors mainly from the percussion set: ping pong balls falling (the classical example from the chaos theory), water flowing, peas poured from one tin to another, spoken texts, etc. All framed in a strict counterpoint of drops, whispers and a balloon exploding.
The percussion set, among other sound objects, includes pouring water from one glass within a given rhythm. The indeterminacy of the water falling down is struggling against the fixed rhythmical frame. I like to think about indeterminacy and control like two complementary features of the same movement.

This piece is part of the opera The Daughter of the Sorceress… but can be also played individually.

• Go to “The daughter…”  project page
• Video (excerpts)

Palabras / Words (2005) – Analysis

Palabras / Words (2005) – analysis

for 1/16 tone piano, saxophone, viola and voice commissioned by Fonds Scheppende Toonkunst

I. Intro

Palabras (words) is a piece which work with words in two different ways: a) “Palabras” as sounds: the texture of the spoken language, the inflections of the human voice. Words as colors; b) “Palabras” as syntax: words combination create structures and musical grammar: linearity, polyphony, etc. Words as architecture. 
The piece is divided in five different blocks of spoken language that goes from the proper spoken voice (Part IV) until a melodic line (part II) which is sung by the four instruments. Every block, or surface has a different quality in relation to different kinds of discourse.
Julian Carrillo,s  1/16 tone piano was a primary inspiration for this piece and its relation to the spoken voice. The microtonal divisions of the piano can give and illusion of words. I neither try to “copy” specific words, nor  reproduce with the instruments a spectrogram (which is a “picture” of the sounds frequencies). I took these ideas as  musical material to be developed with musical rules.

II. Sections

1. Inicios/Starts

Is a music made of intentions where the gesture is more predominant than the speech (sound) itself. We can find beginnings of phrases, whose energy is dissolved as soon as they start.

2. Discursos/Discourses

The four instruments share a melody which represents a linear discourse. This clear melodic line has some depth movements in relation to perspective:  the instruments moves from foreground to background in this continuous but sliding line.

3. Rizoma/Rhizome

Based in “Rhizome” by Gilles Deleuze, this section of music is about multiplicity and multiple connections. Every instrument has an independent line but the four of them  flow at the same time. Sometimes the individual lines meet in a brief chord creating  a web of  multiple connections without hierarchy. These meeting points represents the “anti-chords”, the “anti-accents”, as a subterranean  pianissimo rhizome (root) among the instruments.

4. Montaje/Montage

I compose this section cutting and gluing pieces of papers wich talk about neurological disfunctions in the language area of the brain. Anyway the texts are only partially recognizable: they are as a piece of paper able to be tear to pieces. Also the meaning of the words is crumple, wrinkled, fragmented.

5. Filtro/Filter

The same melody of section II is reduce to its basic points. It was my goal not to build the points but the space between things: to compose the silence with the sounds as a frame. This section is also about synthesis and memory and how we can reconstruct the whole through few significant  points.

III. Texts used in Palabras

The design of language is based on two components: words and grammar. A word is an arbitrary association between a sound and a meaning. For example, English speakers use the word cat to refer to a certain animal, not because the word has any natural connection with this animal but simply because it is a shared convention used by a community of speakers who have all, at some time in their lives, memorized the connection between that sound and that meaning. Words in the huge open-class vocabulary refer to a vast number of concepts, such as objects, states, events, motions, qualities, people, paths, and places and include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some prepositions. Words in the much smaller closed-class vocabulary have a more restricted set of meaning related to time, logic and the relationships among the content words. They are used primary to define a sentence’s structure and include articles, auxiliaries, prefixes and suffixes, particles, and prepositions[1].
Neurology’s favourite word is “deficit”, denoting an impairment or incapacity of neurological function: loss of speech, loss of language, loss of memory, loss of vision, loss of dexterity, loss of identity (…) For all of these dysfunctions we have private words of every sort- Aphonia, Aphemia, Aphasia, Alexia, Apraxia, Agnosia, Amnesia, Ataxia-[2]
The tip of the tongue state involves a failure to recall a word of which one has knowledge. The evidence of knowledge is either and eventually successfully recall or else an act of recognition that occurs, without additional training, when recall has failed.
For several months we watched for “tip-of-the-tongue” states in ourselves. Unable to recall the name of the street on which a relative lives, one of us thought of Congress and Corinth and Concord and then looked up the address and learned that it was Cornish[3]. 
Modern psycholinguist studies have shown that people who have Broca aphasia comprehend sentences whose meanings can be pieced together from the individual meaning of content words and prior knowledge of how the word works. For example, these patients can understand The apple that the boy is eating is red. Boys eat apples, but apples do not eat boys; apples are red, but boys are not. They cannot understand The boy that the girl is chasing is tall.[4]
Patients with Wernicke aphasia often shift the order of individual sounds and sound clusters and add or subtract them to a word in a manner that distorts the intended phonemic plan. These errors are called phonemic paraphasias.[5]
Patients with Conduction aphasia comprehend simple sentences and produce intelligible speech but, like those with Broca and Wernicke aphasias, they can not repeat sentences verbatim, cannot assemble phonemes effectively, and cannot easily name pictures and objects.[6]
Dr P. was a musician of distinction, well-know for many years as a singer, and then, at the local School of Music, as a teacher. It was here, in relation to his students, that certain strange problems were first observed. Sometimes a student would present himself, and Dr P. would not recognize him; or, specifically, would not recognize his face. The moment the student spoke, he would be recognized by his voice.[7]
But if he is interrupted and loses the thread, he comes to a complete stop, doesn’t know his clothes-or his own body. He sings all the time-eating songs, dressing songs, bathing songs, everything. He can’t do anything unless he makes it a song.[8]
I think that music, for him, had taken the place of image. He had no body-image, he had body-music: this is why he could move and act as fluently as he did, but came to a total confuded stop if the “inner music” stopped.[9]

[1]Kandel, E. Schwartz, J and Jessell, T. “Principles of neural science”; Mc Graw-Hill Companies, 2000.

[2] Sacks, O. “The man who mistook his wife for a hat”; Duckworth, 1985

[3] Norman, D. “Memory and Attention”; John Wiley & Sons, inc, 1969.

[4] Kandel, E. Schwartz, J and Jessell, T. op.cit.

[5] Kandel, E. Schwartz, J and Jessell, T. op.cit.

[6] Kandel, E. Schwartz, J and Jessell, T. op.cit.

[7] Sacks, O. op.cit.

[8] Sacks, O. op.cit.

[9] Sacks, O. op.cit.

IV. Text-map instructions in #IV. Montage (preliminary sketch)

V. List of performances:

  • Hortus Ensemble – Alfrun Schmid (sop), Elisabeth Smalt (vla), William Raaijman alt sax), Maarten van Veen 16th tone piano (Julián Carrillo’s piano)
    5 aug 2005 (De oude Hortus, Lange Nieuwstraat 106, Utrecht)
    6 aug 2005 (Hortus Botanicus, Rapenburg 73, Leiden)
    7 aug 2005 (Koningszaal Artis, Plantagemiddenlaan 41a, Amsterdam)

• Audio
• Video (excerpts)
• Program notes/related works
• Press