venerdì 6 dicembre 2013 | ore 21.30

geografie del suono #4

JOHN CAGE: Variations I-VIII


assieme a:
Fabrizio Elvetico (elettronica), Antonio Raia (sax), Tommaso Rossi (flauti), Dario Sanfilippo (elettronica)
Alessandra Cozzolino, Giulia Ferrato, Chiara Orefice (danzatrici)

Decibel is a new music ensemble based in Perth, Western Australia devoted to performing works that explore the nexus of acoustic and electronic instruments. Pioneering unique electronic score formats and giving electronic music instruments a voice in the acoustic space, Decibel also arrange electronic works for live performance. Decibel are committed to Australian music and emerging western Australian composers, as well as sharing important international works with Australian audiences. ‘ ‘

Decibel’s annual program 2009-2010 (their first) won the 2011 AMC/APRA Art Music Awards lnaugral Award for Excellence in Experimental Music, and have been nominated ‘again this year. They have toured Australia and Europe, released a CD “Disintegration: Mutation” on hellosouared records, an LP ‘Stasis Ecstatic’, a book ‘Audible Designs’ on PICA Press, and 2013 sees the release of an album of the works of Alvin Lucier on New York label Pogus.

Decibel are:

Cat Hope – artistic director, flute, bass guitar, electronics.
Stuart James – piano, live video feed, network design, programming and electronics
Lindsay Vickery – reeds, programming, electronics
Louise Devenish – percussion and electronics
Tristen Parr – cello and electronics
Aaron Wyatt – violin, viola, programming and radios.

The John Cage Complete Variations Project: Performed by Decibel

2012 marked the centenary of John Cages’ birth. When Cage died in 1992 he left an incredible legacy to the world of music and art, as a composer, theorist, philosopher, performer and visual artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of
the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the Twentieth century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Cage’s teachers included Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, known for
their own radical innovations in music, but Cage’s major influences lay in various East and South Asian cultures.
Through his studies of Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism in the late 1940s, Cage came to the idea of aleatoric or chance-controlled music, which he started composing in 1951. In a 1957 lecture, Experimental Music, he described music as “a purposeless play” which is “an affirmation of life — not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re |iving”.

John Cage’s eight Variations (1958-67) occupy a unique position in the composer’s output. By the late 1950s, Cage had made significant progress in exploring the use of indeterminate sound sources (such as radio and LP recordings), a range of chance procedures for generating notation and its’ indeterminacy. His attention now turned towards the ‘‘flexibility’’ of formal structure itself, and the eight Variations were the principal vehicle for the exploration of this idea, constituting nearly a quarter of his compositional output during this period. In the Variations, Cage expanded his investigation of instrumentation, sonic materials, the performance space and the environment. The works chart an evolution from the ‘‘personal’’ sound—wor|d of the performer and the score, to a vision potentially embracing the totality of sound on a global scale. After his orchestral work Atlas Eclipticalis (1961- 62), a fully notated work based on star charts, Cage gradually shifted to, in his own words, “music (not composition).” Variations Vand VII are in fact “happenings”, an art form established by Cage and his students in late 1950s, where the concept of passing time is arrested in some form.

This is the firstl time anyone has attempted to present the entire Variations in one program. Decibel undertook this ambitious project because there we found a particulbar affinity with the works – there was something of the group and its members interests in every one of the Variations. The materials called for in these works map Cage’s – and Decibel’s – interests in technology, spatialisation, multimedia, happenings and sounds ’of the air’. Preparing the works raises questions about ‘authentic’ or ’period’ performance in technology driven artworks; when to apply new technologies and possibilities to works where the very idea of ‘new’ was in some ways integral to the works conception. Decibel have combined a variety of approaches within the program that include the incorporation of new technologies as well as maintaining period instruments, but always keeping the spirit of the works intact.

Key to Decibel’s realization of these works has been the preparation of the instantaneous mobile screen scores for Variations I, II and III as well as the performance maps for Variations VI and VI. Here, the complex tasks involving measuring and mapping angles of cut out pieces of transparency are performed by the computer, generating a real- time outcome in a instantly performable notation or plan, informed by years of working with graphic score creation and interpretation. Decibel’s networked computer system and experience with mobile screen score readers has offered a unique perspective on the possibilities for these scores, and has resulted in the development of an iPad App for the entire Variations set, in conjunction with Cage’s publisher, Peters. This system eradicate the ‘cheating’ that can sometimes happen in such complex, aleatoric works, yet the ‘chance process’ so important in the preparation of the scores remains intact. The programming developed for the Decibel piece The Talking Board (Vickery & Hope, 2011) is used to facilitate the required reading of the astronomical map by musicians and dancers alike in Variations V. Variations VII is updated to benefit from new technologies in communications, and Variation VIII presents the perfect conclusion to Cage’s exploration of the very basis of music.

The Complete John Cage Variations was premiered during Decibel’s tour of Europe in February 2012 as part of Curva Minore’s ’John Cage 100 Years’ Festival, at the Goethe institute in Palermo, Italy. It has also been presented as part of the ‘Cage in Us’ Festival in Brisbane, Queensland and the Scale Variable Chamber Music Series in Perth, Western Australia. http://decibe|


All’Ex Asilo Filangieri i concerti, gli spettacoli, le proiezioni, gli incontri sono ad ingresso libero. E’ gradito un contributo a piacere che serve ad abbattere delle spese minime e a dotare gli spazi dell’Ex Asilo Filangieri dei mezzi di produzione necessari ai lavoratori dello spettacolo e dell’immateriale per produrre arte e cultura.