It’s well known that a recording production implies a three-levels-division of labour: the composer designs the sound architecture; the player, with a great knowledge of his/her instrument and a peculiar musical sensibility & culture, interprets rightly the expressive intensions of the author; the sound engineer with a deep cognition of electronic tools adopted for recording and a good ear for music, is responsible of the making of the product (he has to prepare the recording of all the instruments from a sound perspective in order to obtain a global result as correct and natural as possible: the recording should completely respect the intentions of the author, included his/her sound conception).
It’s possible, however, that the different levels can be integrated in a single person: during an improvisation session, for instance, the composer and the player are the same musician. Electronic music offers a new way of levels integration: the composer (expert in electronic instruments) becomes the author, the player and the sound engineer.
Since they are electronic devices that generate the sound, the author owns the direct control of the final result: in this way, the performance or the recording will surely reproduce his/her intentions. With the use of modern computers, this control is becoming more effective and more and more within reach of the musician, who can electronically synthesize unheard sounds & complex polyphonies, even in real time.
Corrado Canepa is such a kind of musician, whose sound projects are self-realized, creating directly on the tape the sound chosen for every composition. The global control of the whole process of artistic production allowed by the electronic instruments offers him the possibility of realizing his conception of composition as freedom and «handicraft».
Syntheseis, a collection of eight sound scenarios projected & produced in 1979 with the collaboration of Cristina Rossi, is a good example of his aesthetics: he didn’t use computer but only less sophisticated analogical instruments employed at the best of their potentialities: his research means a challenge to the limitations of instruments he often invented & built.
S y n t h e s e i s means etymologically «combinations, mixtures», simply: «compositions». We can listen together (electronically elaborated) the oldest traditional instruments – voice, Pan Flute, drums, xylophone, performed by Cristina Rossi –, noises extracted from contemporary materials & objects – plastic tubes, polystyrene, plates, telephones – and electronic synthesized sounds. A peculiar research in stereophonic sound spatialization is a fundamental part of composition.
Notes about some of the eight sound scenarios collected in S y n t h e s e i s :
Dedicated to the mythic Homeric hero, Odisseo elaborates electronically four sound sources: (female & male) voice, recorder, electronic sounds and electronic generators. The composition would create an extremely dynamic atmosphere, in relation to sound – pseudo-casual intersection of a plurality of voices -, rhythm – intersection of different rhythms – and space.
Galleria del vento [Wind Gallery]
Conceived on the antithesis of the aggressive obsessiveness of a continuum of noises created by the friction of plastic & wooden materials with air & other objects, this piece is the only one that doesn’t use any electronic sound. The noises and the voice are filtered & overlapped with a deep investigation about the musical possibilities of the Echo-effect.
Sintesi di voci [Synthesis of Voices]
It employs all the sound sources of the collection: traditional instruments – voices, xylophone, drums – different objects – the telephone, both as a sound generator and a filter for the voice, metallic tubes, pendulum clock’s bells – oscillators & even an electronic metronome (built expressly for this piece), whose elaborated sound represents a sort of Leitmotiv in a musical structure segmented in different episodes unified by this rhythmical element.
Ritorno di Odisseo, ovvero Vetrocemento [The Return of Odisseo, i.e. (skyscrapers built in) glass block]
Is articulated in two parts.
The sound material of the first part is constituted by an elaboration of noises (metallic dishes, polystyrene, electric cables) integrated with xylophone & synthesizer; at the end, three female voices play verses from Odyssey, Book V & XII (in original language).
The sound material of the second part is constituted by the sounds generated in the fast rewind of the tape on which is recorded the first piece of Synteseis, ‘Odisseo’. This new form (in which we can’t recognize the original structure) offers to the sound material a dramatic force, absent in the original version. In 1981, the piece was prized in the III International Music Competition L. Russolo for electro-acoustic composition.
Parole e Codici [Words&Codes]
Six texts for twelve voices
The six texts written by the Author for this piece, explain its structure, its compositional techniques and intentions, as a poetic manifest of the whole work. The listener receives two seemingly antinomic aspects: the formal rigor of the verbal messages & of the sound project (they defined in detail) versus the impossibility of understanding the clear rationality of these six discourses read simultaneously by twelve voices in a mixtures of confused, interlaced words. The will of non- communication of literal meanings grows in the development of the piece, when the Morse code substitutes the verbal expression and finally when we listen a phonetic distortion of the voices obtained with the inversion of the tape on which they are recorded.
The intention of the piece appears clearly: the event we are participating is overall a musical event, far from the univocal & defined semantics of spoken, technical & scientific language. The piece depends on the consciousness of a dialectic link between the expressivity of musical discourse and its syntactical dimension.
[Excerpt from the program of the Concert performed in Genoa, the 22nd September 1982]