Teresa Rampazzi: Fluxus (1979) – 10’40”
Rebecca Saunders: Dust III (2018-21) – 65′
World Premiere of the version for several percussion players
Christian Dierstein (Percussion)
Dirk Rothbrust (Percussion)
Participants of the Darmstadt Percussion Studio
TERESA RAMPAZZI: FLUXUS
Italy’s equivalent to Delia Derbyshire or Daphne Oram, Teresa Rampazzi (1914-2001), has enjoyed a resurgence of recognition in the past decade as one of the pioneers of electronic and computer music. A former avant-garde pianist, Rampazzi was exposed to electronic music “exactly as its birth, listening to its cries in the large Marienhöhe concert hall, in Darmstadt, [when] for the first time [Herbert] Eimert showed the public a small frequency generator”, as she said once.
It was the 1952 edition of the Darmstadt Summer Course, the same year when Boulez declared the death of Arnold Schoenberg’s aesthetics, and the year of the “Wunderkonzert” with the new generation of composers presenting their music to the international musical attention (in that occasion Teresa Rampazzi was a member of the chorus in España en el corazón by Luigi Nono). She attended the Summer Course also in 1954, 1956 and up to 1959. After the Darmstadt experience, it took a few years to finally abandon her performance work. Meanwhile, in her home in Padua she brought together composers, musicians and theoreticians such as Niccolò Castiglioni, Franco Donatoni, Severino Gazzelloni, René Leibowitz, Heinz-Klaus Metzger.
In 1959 she played at a concert in Padua with John Cage, Metzger and Sylvano Bussotti. 1963 she met Ennio Chiggio, a kinetic artist member of the Gruppo Enne, and in 1965 they founded the NPS group (Nuove Proposte Sonore, New Sound Proposals). During the 1970s-1980s she was also one of the key figures of the Centro di Sonologia Computazionale (CSC) at the University of Padova, one of the first European computer music research centers active from the early 1970s. Here, in 1979 she realized the electronic piece Fluxus, based on a fragment by Heraclitus, and Atmen Noch (1980), which won the second prize at the VIII Concours International de Musique Électroacoustique in Bourges (1980, first prize not awarded).
Among other pieces, she realized Computer dances (Special mention, Bourges, 1978) which is “based on 8 sections in which the signals gradually overlap in a constantly increasing number according to the shortening of the signals”, and Requiem per Ananda (1982), which combine phonemes taken from the Requiem Mass by Louis da Victoria (1548-1611) with digital signals. During her lifetime, she only published two pieces: Fluxus (1979) and Atmen Noch (1980). Her electronic music was played on national radio programs like the Terzo Programma (on Radio RAI) during the 1970s and 1980s. After the death of her husband in 1984, she moved to Assisi and later to Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza), where she continued to compose. Alongside Pietro Grossi and Enore Zaffiri, she has initiated the first electronic music courses in the Italian conservatories.
Fluxus was realized in 1979 with the use of the language ICMS (Interactive Computer Music System), a software created by Graziano Tisato at the CSC – Centro di Sonologia Computazionale at the University of Padova for the synthesis (connected to Music5 program, one of the early computer music programs), the editing and mixing, connected with a video, whose functions and algorithms were selected by means of a light pen. Teresa Rampazzi made the spatialization directly during the mixing of the 4-tracks. She preferred an acousmatic listening experience during concerts. Her musical works would thus be diffused without any further changes, because she disliked the human gesture in live electronic music.
TERESA RAMPAZZI IN DARMSTADT
Teresa Rampazzi’s registration document for the Darmstadt Summer Course 1956
Darmstadt Summer Course 1958: discussion round with Teresa Rampazzi, Cornelius Cardew, David Tudor and Aloys Kontarsky
REBECCA SAUNDERS: DUST III
Christian Dierstein and Dirk Rothbrust speak about dust III and their ongoing collaboration with Rebecca Saunders.
What is the relationship between dust III and the two previous versions? Was there any new material added for dust III?
Dirk Rothbrust: The scores are identical. dust I is already composed in such a way that you can choose from eight modules and combine them as you like. You can play some more than once and omit others altogether. The step of layering several modules on top of each other at the same time is then no longer a big one. That’s where the idea for the duo (dust II) and the larger ensemble version (dust III) comes from. That doesn’t work with every piece, but it works very well with this one.
Christian Dierstein: Rebecca (Saunders) also really likes to do that. In rehearsals, she reassembles the elements when she hears that a certain combination doesn’t fit that way. Dirk and I, each of us has a solo version of the piece, together we have the duo version, we have to rewrite the piece again and again, because each version has so many possibilities in itself. And Rebecca, of course, has a very decided, perhaps different opinion about it – always surprising, always good. Where we would decide partly for practical reasons, because we just have a certain mallet in our hands and wouldn’t change it, she as a composer sees the large-scale form. The piece is anything but set in stone and her openness to change is very enriching.
In the work text for the first version of dust, Rebecca Saunders mentions the many “wonderful sound sessions“ with both of you. How can one imagine such a session?
DR: You tinker together, composer and performer. Even in the workshop with Rebecca and the students, it was important to keep time free to try out sounds together. Of course, she already knows the sounds from the last performance, but in the meantime one has always found something new – for example, a new aluminum foil from the drugstore that sounds better (laughs) – so one suddenly finds new interesting sounds that then flow into it. Rebecca doesn’t write everything down in detail, and then we just practice it. It’s a joint working process.
CD: Around 2010 I asked Rebecca for a piece for solo percussion because her sounds are so wonderful. She agreed and soon came up with the idea of writing a double concerto for Dirk and me, because she has worked with both of us so much – sometimes here in Darmstadt at the Summer Course. Again and again she took an hour before or after a rehearsal for other projects to collect together. She always records the results in great detail. That’s great for us: Suddenly it’s no longer just what you do, but it’s written down in detail. In the development of the joint percussion concerto, void, and later also with dust, we were both – Dirk and I – often surprised by the sounds that we got through the exchange with Rebecca.
That is, you have also taken over sounds from each other, quasi appropriated?
CD: Sure. It brought us into exchange with each other, Dirk and I talked a lot more with each other about our sounds as a result …
DR: … like: „How did you do that?“ It’s a double enrichment. It comes from Rebecca, but it also comes from Christian to me and vice versa. That it then comes to a double premiere, that is, that Rebecca writes a piece for both of us and each plays his version of it in the same concert, is also something I have never experienced before. Our experiences, which we have made together and with Rebecca, have flowed into the piece and we are now passing them on to the students …
CD: … which had to prepare and practice the piece before the workshop.
What do you associate with dust in general? For example, I can think of dust lying on an eardrum, or dust in the cracks of an instrument – it could also be a sound factor…
CD: Dust is a deposit and refers to remnants of things, remnants of the past that are left. Of course, there are many new and fresh sounds in the piece, but dust also refers to a certain tradition. That’s what the piece alludes to as well.
DR: That also describes Rebecca’s way of working very well. She always talks about her sound palette. Like a color palette, she draws from it, has analyzed each color carefully, so these sounds all already have a past.
CD: You also talk about kicking up dust. That’s a nice image, and whirling, – the fast tremolo – is an activity of ours. The bass drum is whirled quite violently in the piece, there is not much dust left on the skins.
DR: I often think of veils of mist through which one looks when I hear this piece. You could see these sounds through such veils. When the sounds of four or five metal instruments overlap, one still resonates, the other is a bit louder, while already another new one is added – that’s very multilayered, like different layers of dust on top of each other. You can wipe off the first layer again, then the second comes out again.