Cecilia Arditto

Post Term: English

Esta tarde leo a Adorno/This afternoon I read Adorno (2013)

based on a poem by  Bárbara Belloc for bass clarinet, viola, percussion + record player, ventilator and spinning chairs commissioned by KNM Berlin  

1. Now     Esta tarde leo a Adorno – by Cecilia Arditto based on a poem by Barbara Belloc   Mini music theater piece in 6 scenes for bass clarinet, viola, percussion, pickup player and a electric fan
Scene #1 “After a while, it is difficult to recall what that really was. I remember the tapping though”
Scene #1 “After a while, it is difficult to recall what that really was. I remember the tapping though” Scene #2 “The past is printed on a vinyl that is getting more and more wasted every second” Scene #3 “Memory has holes, and also the present, no matter we experience it as a continuum” Scene #4 “Bass clarinet playing with a past version of itself” Scene #5 “Present and past move at different speeds” Scene #6“…Anyhow, I remember the spring” 2. Before  

At café “Lidos”, in Buenos Aires, the Argentine poet Barbara Belloc orally recalls her poem “Esta tarde leo a Adorno”. She remembers and forgets different parts of it, quoting it and reinvent it at the same time, and then she talks about Adorno, Brahms, vinyls and typewriting machines.

It is summer in Buenos Aires and the coffee is great.   Back in Holland, I start exploring Barbara’s palace of memories to write my own piece. Even in spring, the weather is really cold.  

I decide to stamp the music on vinyl: the soundtrack of my childhood, like Barbara’s, comes in a vinyl envelope. Vinyls are similar to memories: they get more wasted every time we play them. My music is about distortion when time passes. Memory has holes, and also the present, no matter what we experience it as a continuum.

Was it my memories or hers?   It is difficult to know what something really was in the past. Like in the language of dreams, things appear blurry and mixed. I remember some typing… was it a vibraphone or a gigantic typewriting machine? I recall the spinning air… was it a pickup player or a ventilator? In my theater, three musicians are listening to a record player, and everything turns around together with the vinyl: memories, sounds and the air surrounding, like a drunken boat on the sea of music.       In the palace of our memories, all rooms are related in new ways. The same doors are connected to our present through impossible corridors from the past.

We are moving from time to time in a different version of ourselves: in my piece, the clarinetist plays a duo with himself in the past and the percussion player recalls Barbara’s poem in a different language. Memories are blurry and vivid in the same proportion; this seems to be their quality.

 3. Even before

Barbara’s poem 
La casa en llamas Lo poco o mucho que hubo: corazón de ceniza
 Esta tarde leo a Adorno como si leyera las cartas póstumas de mi padre, si mi padre hubiera sido visionario, célebre y furioso. Lo leo como un secreto familiar se lee en voz alta o se rompe un pacto de palabra. Miro a los costados: la cantidad de papel impreso que tiro a la basura me revuelve el estómago. Pienso: debería ser inversamente proporcional a lo que escribo, ‘o no ser nada’. Leo a Adorno. Y mientras tanto repito: Adorno, Adorno, Adorno… como un ronroneo. Lo leo espantada, tan espantada que a cada rato dejo el libro y ando por la casa vagando, espantando a las arañas con un plumero. Y vuelvo. A encontrar un mensaje que creo dirigido a mí y, más allá del asombro, bien interpretar por: una cuestión de consanguinidad. (¿?) Léase: leo a Adorno como si recordara (como recuerdo) los acordes de la Tercera Sinfonía de Brahms, que mi padre me asegura que le pedía una y otra vez en la infancia, con Bartok, Górecki y Saint-Saëns, y no las brumas de sinusoidales y los engranajes rotos que día y noche sí mecían la casa como un barco ebrio en el mar de la musique concrète. Adorno, ¡vaya decorado! ¿Me vas a decir que acaso no sabías que la música hace estragos? ¿Que la música que se escucha en el vientre de la madre no hace mella en el feto que no es sino todo oídos, huevo-sin-cáscara? Importa poco. Esta tarde leo a Adorno como un biólogo lee un programa de forestación artificial en el ojo de un claro de una selva en peligro, en el tercer mundo, en este mundo, cuando la flecha del tiempo clava el cartel en la corteza del árbol: SE ACABÓ. O como un huérfano cae a pique sobre las fotos de sus muertos en busca de aquello que lo desate de su pena. O como un minero japonés que apila una piedra, y otra, y otra más. Algunos hablan de la guerra, otros de quién será el soberano. La sombra vengadora está en la sombra y se despereza. Ahí viene. Adorno, Adorno, Adorno, Adorno: tu nombre es fósforo Fragata prendido al borde de un terrenito de provincia en sucesión perpetua. Dice el testamento: “El único pensamiento no ideológico es el que intenta llevar la cosa misma al lenguaje que está bloqueado por el lenguaje dominante”. De noche duermo y sueño con un campo que es una partitura de vacas que mugen cosas que entiendo. Después del saqueo: el pozo está vacío. (potus)     • Download tape • Video   Related post/s in my blog “Poesía” (Spanish)   Related works:
• Gestalt (2014)
• Time machine (2011)
• Gespleten piano (2010)
• Split piano (2011)
• El libro de los gestos / Book of gestures (2008)
• La arquitectura del aire / The architecture of air (2009)

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

Download score PDF

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

 

 

 

 

About notation

Casi cerca (2003) score detail

I like to think of written music as an entity that originates itself every time it is invoked. Different from other arts, where the physical object is always there, music exists only when someone reads a music score.
Music uses a foreign language to express itself, and that is not sound waves but graphical signs. This oblique mechanism gives to the music, both in sound and discourse, an ambiguous condition. Ambiguity brings fragility and strength at the same time.
The history of western music has always been dancing together with the development of musical notation, one feeding the other, in an indivisible relationship. Musical notation is not only a tool to preserve the right sound waves in the correct order but a way of thinking and creating music. Most of the written music would have been impossible to be conceived without writing down ideas on paper. Music notation is both a registration and generation activity at the same time.
Music scores are meticulous, specific, and obsessive with details. The wonderful paradox is that the manifestation of this accuracy is a live act. Written music has its full expression in the present moment. Fresh and fragile. This imperfect-perfect, defined-undefined, precise-imprecise double-sided coin is the fascinating arena that provides music its abstract condition.

Anatomy of a jar (2020)

for female choir (SMA) and glass containers
commissioned by Zembla Music

Anatomy of a jar explores the sound quality of discarded objects, making music with bottles and jars literally rescued from the glass container. These objects refer clearly to a known and familiar world, that through the composition process acquires an abstract and a poetic condition. This piece explores the subtleties of sound, both in the choir and in the objects. These sounds free themselves from their sources, having their own musical value independently of coming from the vocal tradition or the trash can.
Anatomy of a jar makes chamber music with objects converting them into refined musical instruments. Objects are now empowered on stage, and their sounds are written in a music score, acquiring thanks to the music notation “eternal life.” The act of re-appropriation is not related to the idea of nostalgia but to resistance and change.

• Audio   • Video instructions
• Practice guides

Download score PDF

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Related works:

Cuarteto (1996)
Las ciudades y los signos (SATB)
• Introducción a la zoología fantástica (children´s choir)

• Anthropology of trash (2020)

 

 

 

 

 

Out loud #1, #2 and #3 (2013-

Out loud is a music piece in the shape of a strainer where most of the sounds have gone away. The main composing was intentionally erased and only the leftovers of a gone piece survive, the unwanted, the declassed sounds.

I say voiceless: I don’t want to write one more piece.

The music vanished and we are facing now its remains: breaths, movements, mistaken notes, eye contact. As if it were junk spread on the beach, this “new piece” invites to draw the shape of a missing party from the waste.

The music is defined for what it is omitted instead of for what it shows, like a post-Cage experiment reloading the forgotten declassed sounds.

I write a silent piece with a lot of notes.

The musicians and the audience are still there, occupying the hall, facing a full nothingness a bit silly. Both audience and musicians are repeating its concert rituals with the hope of recovering some sense.

Tired of being told…

Tired of solfège…

Tired of abstraction

Talk to me in my face!

The musicians are asked to play the shell of the egg, better said the air around the egg and the trombone return the notes from the outside in, blowing comebacks. Hopefully, the audience laughs, filling the air around like a breath of spring.

 

El libro de los gestos / The book of gestures  (2007 revised 2008)

for violin, cello, piano, percussion and lamps
commissioned by Ensemble Musas, Santa Fe

There are four people in a room making music. Each one has a lamp. They play their musical instruments, and they also play the lights, on and off, creating with this action different atmospheres. The staging of the piece is constantly changing, in real-time, by means of the lights.
The book of gestures proposes a counterpoint of different layers: the rhythm of the music, the rhythm of the lights, the rhythm of the room
There are spaces to be seen, spaces to be heard, spaces to be imagined. Some of the music is played in the dark, in a room full of presences.

• Video
• Notes for performance (English)

• Analysis (Español)

Post Blog “El libro de los gestos” (Español)
Post Blog “Variaciones sobre la cámara Gessell” (Español)
Post Blog “Tip#1” (Español)
Post Blog “Musas” (Español)
Post Blog “La música y las notas” (Español)

Related works:

• Gestalt (2014)
• Esta tarde leo a Adorno/This afternoon I read Adorno (2013)
• Time machine (2011)
• Gespleten piano (2010)
• Split piano (2011)
• La arquitectura del aire / The architecture of air (2009)

Spiegeltjes (little mirrors) (2016)

5 pieces for clarinet, tape and objects
The tape can be replaced by a second clarinet OR by any other melodic instrument: transpositions can be applied.
The different pieces of this project can be played as a cycle or individually.

This cycle of pieces (five in total) is inspired by the renaissance Flemish composers and their use of mirror techniques. Most of them are written for a solo instrument in dialogue with a tape/vinyl pre-recorded by the same instrument. Duo versions replacing the recording for a second player, are very welcome.

The music score is not published yet. Please send me an email if you are interested in this work.

# 1. Spiegeltjes / little mirrors: is symmetrically split into two equal parts with a vertical line, organizing the musical material with retrogrades and inversion techniques. On a smaller scale, the clarinet plays in counterpoint with itself conforming little mirrors which are expressed in groups of notes with stems up and down.

# 2. Snel / fast: the recorded clarinet is partially duplicated by the live clarinet creating a new melody (a mirror with holes). Mirrors are not only present in the music but they also reflect the acoustical space. This intriguing “quasi unison” shapes the harmony of the piece. It is advisable to explore the acoustics of the hall finding the most appropriate location for both performers, which will be different in every venue.

#3. Zand / sand: the pre-recorded clarinet plays in counterpoint with the live one in canon. The multiphonic chords are shaped by this written delay creating interesting harmonies.

#4. Tekening / drawing: (two players), the flutists and a drawer who draws in the mirror in synch with the clarinet.

#5. Terug / backward: an evergoing melody is played back and forth, written in classical retrograde style.

The inclusion of real mirrors on stage creates not only visual duplications but a blind spot behind. The two performers have a different setup for each piece of the program playing with the mirror but also taking different locations on the space. Simple movements create very different scenarios and emphasize the acoustics of the hall in a “hide and seek” but “always listening” game.

Spiegeltjes stage design – practical and flexible

The dearest dream (2018)

anti concerto for percussion and ensemble of 10 instruments
2nd prize Wilde Lieder Marx Competition by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

The dearest dream is an anti-concerto for simple means based on concepts by Karl Marx.
The music has 4 sections displaying different relationships between the soloist and the ensemble.
I. Dialectic of the strings, a string-telephone quartet is in dialogue with the ensemble strings.
2. The song of the land makes music with grains.
3. The man (repetition and alienation) where the percussionist sweeps the concert hall floor with a broom.
4. The machine is characterized by 4 electric fans with rotating heads.

The sound architecture of The dearest dream is based mainly on one note: it uses the spectrum of the note F-1, starting with A 440 (20th overtone) which progressively opens to the complete overtone series.
The sound changes during the piece from sine wave at the beginning to noise at the end, making changes in color but always respecting the overtone hierarchy. The rhythms used in the piece are mainly repeated notes, just slight fluctuations of the fixed sounds: in other words, they represent variations over the same. The whole ensemble play basically only one note and its overtones represents the tradition that perpetuates itself (status quo), leading to movement but without real changes. The dialogue with the outside objects breaks the fixed order bringing an unorthodox musical dialogue. The percussion plays diverse objects that impregnate the rest of the music. He is a soloist, or better said, an anti-soloist. Some members of the ensemble also play some objects apart from their instruments, to show some sympathy to the percussionist.

• Audio
• Video
• Press

Download score PDF

Send download link to:

Related post/s in my blog
“Barrer en quintillos” (Spanish)

Related works:
• Tissue (2019)
• Anthropology of trash (2020)

Las trampas del tiempo / traps of time (2011)

for early music ensemble and voices
based on texts by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
commissioned by Borealis Festival, Norway

The true picture of the past whizzes by. Only as a picture, which flashes its final farewell in the moment of its recognizability, is the past to be held fast.

Walter Benjamin “On the concept of history”

I like to think about the mechanism of time as a switch with a bad contact that turns randomly the light on and off. We are in an intermittent room where the chairs, the stage, the instruments appear and disappear in flashes of sense; the full picture of the continuous space is only in our minds; the real space is in fact fragmented, full of emptiness. The present is even more ungraspable than the past.

Time is a bunch of threads all tied up together with our precarious mind mechanisms, wrapping the emptiness around with more hope than certainties. Most of the time, time is about jumps or just a continuous waiting we attempt to fill with notes. But when more notes, more emptiness.

As in a science fiction movie, the music I am imagining is related to the idea of teleportation where remote music from the XVII century travels through time to nowadays, but for some inner mechanism of the travel process, the essence has been altered.

The new space of reproduction is also different from that original one, so the old music lands in a fragmented present. In this distorted present, full of inhabited spaces, a record player inside the harpsichord talks like a guitar; some instruments are activated from the distance and old cassette tapes are reflecting the other music like acoustical mirrors, express not only the shade of early voices but also the alteration of time itself.

The new landing experience from the XVII music failed and music is hence spread on a present that is also fragmented, full of holes. But the travel was not about the historical reproduction of a past forever gone. It was mainly about showing the backstage of our present, which is so discontinuous, distorted and fragmented as the past we recall. Maybe this music is not about a specific time location, even not about a dialogue, but about the mysterious nature of time itself.

 

Related post/s in my blog:
“Las trampas del tiempo” (English)

 

 

 

 

I love you (2016)

for flute, guitar, tape, slides and objects
for Luis Orias Diz and Alu Montorfano

I found a collection of slides in a flea market in Holland. The slides reflect a house being remodeled. No holidays, no people, no landscapes. Electric installations, wallpaper being ripped, traps and a gas meter.
In the ’60s, people were really careful about taking pictures, different from the click and through away of the digital pictures.
The story behind is unknown. Just I’ve got images of an empty house in remodeling.  The slides show a garden, a window, gas and electricity meters, a ladder, the bedroom.
In these scenarios, a man and a woman play music. They make music in counterpoint with the electricity sounds, they sing together with the gas pipes and play pianissimos in synchronization with the wallpaper that slowly, maybe for decades, is falling down.

• Audio files

Related post/s in my blog
“I love you too” (Español)
“La vida de los otros” (Español)