mi specchio e rifletto

The music of the album Mi specchio e rifletto is now performed live, featuring a band of Italian musicians: Valeria Sturba (voice, violin, theremin, toys), Stefano Pilia (baritone guitar), Cecilia Stacchiotti (synth, keyboard, voice, bansuri flute), Edoardo Marraffa (tenor and sopranino sax), and myself (voice,violin, guitare, toys, objects).

a way to begin

Working collaboratively over several years with Canadian composer Cassandra Miller we have developed a personal and unique way to create music together. Though, by trade, I’m mostly a performer and Cassandra a composer, our two roles merge in an equal exchange of actions and ideas. Our compositions are not notated, but devised and learned, through a long interchange of experiments in embodied music making. These interchanges often begin with pre-existing songs or favourite improvisations, which are then transformed through “automatic singing”–a repeated process of singing-along to music while meditating. We use this process as a mindful exploration of our impulses (our gut reactions) to each other’s vocality and gestural physicality. The resulting performance lies between improvisation and aurally-transmitted folk music, and is made for sharing with audiences in spaces of deep listening.

occam océan 3

The idea for this piece was initially inspired by a large mural that I saw by chance in 1973, at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles. It showed the “spectrum of electromagnetic waves” moving from the largest to the smallest of known measurable wavelengths. Out of this large spectrum, there is a tiny zone from slightly less than 100 Hz to slightly more than 10 KHz that the ears of certain species populating the planet earth, have transformed into “sounds”. […] It seems in fact that the Ocean with its multiple waves allows us to symbolically be in contact with a rather large spectrum of vibrating undulations, stretching from great deep-sea swells to wavelets sparkling on a fine summer day.
Éliane Radigue
The three musicans featured in this project are among the first interpreters of Radigue’s acoustic works. Since 2011 Julia Eckhardt (viola), Deborah Walker (cello) and I were involved in her specific process of composition, which occurs through an oral and shared transmission of the music.

OCCAM VIII  for cello
OCCAM II  for violin
OCCAM IV  for viola
OCCAM RIVER II  for violin and cello
OCCAM DELTA III  for violin, viola and cello

This program will be released soon by French label SHIIIN.

sounding limits

Sounding Limits features a series of compositions resulted from a long-term collaboration between the French composer Pascale Criton, Deborah Walker and me. A former student of microtonal pioneer Ivan Wyschnegradsky and spectralist Gérard Grisey, Pascale is internationally known for her use of specific tunings with minute intervals. Since the 1980s, she has been exploring sound variability, multisensory receptions and the spatialization of listening, applying alternative tunings (1/12th, 1/16th) to various instruments (violin, cello, guitar and piano) combined with computing and listening devices. Deborah Walker and I are actively involved in the fields of contemporary experimental music and free improvisation. Together with Pascale we have been exploring microtonal extended techniques and gestural processes on a violin and a cello tuned in 1/16 of a tone. The compositions that have resulted from this process are conceived as scripts. They challenge the sens of form and the attitude of interpretation, transforming it into a creative process.

Circle Process, for violin tuned in 1/16th of a tone, by Pascale Criton and Silvia Tarozzi

Bothsways, for violin and cello tuned in 1/16th of a tone, by Pascale Criton

Chaoscaccia, for cello tuned in 1/16th of a tone, by Pascale Criton and Deborah Walker

canti di guerra, di lavoro e d'amore

A contemporary re-interpretation of female folksongs of northern Italy

Silvia Tarozzi, voice and violin
Deborah Walker, voice and cello

We have been working for several years on transcriptions and 
reinterpretations of traditional folksongs from our birthplace, the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. These songs come from the first decades of the twentieth century and from the period of the Second World War but some of them have older roots. The melodies and especially the lyrics have been transformed over time through oral transmission and adapted to different social, working and historical contexts. One of the strongest influences of our project is the repertory of choirs of female rice-field workers, le “Mondine”, with their typical polyphony and powerful singing.
In these arrangements, the songs emerge from the interaction of voices and strings, resulting in fast moving, colourful music.
Through a game of reinventions and transformations, we translated the sound and stylistic characteristics of this repertoire. Violin, cello and voice become the elements of a new choral polyphony, in which they highlight certain aspects of the vocals or the structure of traditional songs. The lyrics of the Mondariso tell of their labors, heavy and badly paid work, love affairs, war, social revolt, the violence of power and the desire for justice. This human and social history concerns us closely: they are stories transmitted and heard at home, at village festivals or at school, when women and men came to tell and sing to children their experiences of war and the life in the fields.

Today we wish to evoke this memory to revive it through a personal language born of our sound, musical and gestural research, developed in contact with musicians from various origins. Touched by the evocative power of these female voices and the strength of their common experience, we sketch an emotional territory where our relationship with the region of Emilia and its history resonates with other sounds, other places.
In addition to the songs, we play some original compositions inspired by our common experience and research in the fields of experimental and folk music. Between oral and notated music, tradition is reinvented and transformed.

Virgin Violin

The oral transmission of music and the form created through a deep immersion into the sound are common traits of the three compositions for violin featured on this program. In Circle Process Pascale Criton and I started from a hyper-chromatic violin tuned in sixteenth-tones. It’s all about looking for the gesture that makes the extreme richness of a sequence of different statuses perceivable and intelligible, in order for them to be connected with the maximum transitivity.
The textual score of Thirteen Changes: For Malcolm Goldstein (1986) by Pauline Oliveros casts, through the performer’s creativity, natural or paradoxical visions and sensorial, tactile, proprioceptive suggestions, which stimulate acoustic synesthesiae. The result is a modular combination of changing soundscapes that is more reminiscent of cinema’s approach than classical music forms.
For Occam II the spoken word suggests a guiding image and draws a path. Éliane Radigue’s music exists in time and depends on it for his form more than other music.  Éliane Radigue composes through listening, and this becomes an integral part of her music.

Circle Process, for violin tuned in 1/16th-tones by Pascale Criton, Silvia Tarozzi

Thirteen Changes: For Malcolm Goldstein (1986), for violin, voice, toys by Pauline Oliveros

OCCAM II  for violin by Éliane Radigue

occam océan for violin and percussions

Éliane Radigue is renowned for her electronic music, in particular with the ARP Synthesizer. Her compositions are defined by micro-events due to subtle overtone shifts that dance above a seemingly static tone, with a profoundly moving result. In 2005, Radigue began composing for acoustic instruments: first Naldjorlak, her grand trio for two basset horns and cello, and now the ever-expanding Occam Ocean series, a long cycle of compositions inspired by the ocean as the most accessible way to experience the vibratory nature of the Universe. Enrico Malatesta is one of the latest musicians that worked with Éliane on a solo piece and he created a beautiful piece for two cymbals that he performed many times around the world. Our duo is a première.

OCCAM XXVI for percussion
OCCAM II for violin
OCCAM RIVER VIII for violin and percussion