World New Symphony N.1
by Giuseppe Gavazza
Atlanta New York Paris Berlin Torino
My World New Symphony is totally composed using sounds I personally recorded in the past months in the places that lend their names to the five movements:
The only exception is n.3, Paris, where I used a synthesized sound file generated with new physical modeling software as the compositional base, for reasons I will detail later.
To listen to the entire composition go to: www.freesound.org/geotagsView.php (or www.freesound.org then click on the left column Search/Browse/Geotagged Samples). A map and a list of Geotagged samples will appear; these samples are listed in the order in which they were uploaded. Initially, they will appear on the first page of the list, then they will appear in the following pages as: by giuseppegavazza. Otherwise you can fly over, hover over, or zoom in on the cities of the symphony (Atlanta, New York, Paris, Berlin, Torino) looking for the tag. More details of the specific places, which will help you find them on the map, will be given in the synopsis.
All recordings (except movement n.5) were made with a Zoom H4 digital audio recorder using its embedded microphones.
Thanks to ACROE, Grenoble for the license to use their physical modeling music software, Genesis.
World New Symphony n.1: Synopsis
1st Movement – Atlanta, May 10th-12th 2008. This movement uses sound recorded in Atlanta and Alpharetta, Georgia, between Saturday April 10th and Monday May 12th 2008. The first “theme” consists of the voices of a crowd at a party in Atlanta (Saturday, May 10th, in the evening): as the voices fade, they degrade into noise. But suddenly (at 0'30'') a double 2nd theme enters: the starting riff of a party band, in a reiterated Ostinato: A simply rhythmic and B (0'48'') with basic harmonic texture. Both disappear, cross fading with a “transition theme” of a short car trip (1'40'') with speaking voices and soft piano music as background. As the car theme (recorded the same evening as the party) dissolves, the 2nd main theme enters (2'40''), a natural motif of a morning walk in a wood (Sunday April 11th) with bird song, barking dog, and far-off noises of truck and airplane. Some ghost fragments of previous themes return at this point, as the forest sounds give way (4'08'') to the final motif: the train transfer to the Atlanta airport (Monday April 12th, in the morning).
2nd Movement – New York City May 5th 2008. All recordings for this section were made in Times Square and a subway station during the day on Monday May 5th 2008. The beginning of the movement (Introduction) is the sound of the beginning of the underground train trip: the sound is blocked in a loop (0'43'') creating a light Moderato rhythmic base. The 1st Theme enters over this base: a clarinet playing, in Canone, a very famous movie theme in a non mensuratic tempo creating a contrast with the looped train. Against ambient station sounds in the background, the clarinet gives way to the second theme: a woman’s voice with guitar repeating herself in an Ostinato song Incipit. A sound harmonizer treatment adds a polyphonic (but homorhythmic) texture. When a new train arrives, the same “rhythm free” clarinet player reappears with another famous theme, this one from the very standard Operatic repertoire as a bridge theme to a new element (3rd theme): a traffic theme with voices, cars, laughter, music, street sounds, and noises. In this section, previous elements (clarinet, female song, ambient rhythm) converge in a Stretto to finish over the base of motorbike and car sounds.
3rd Movement – Paris April 12th 2009. This movement is the only one melding recorded and synthesized sounds. Live sounds were recorded inside and outside the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, round 8 p.m. on Eastern Sunday of this year. The formal structure of this section is provided by the synthesized sounds realized with the musical software Genesis by ACROE Grenoble: this software is under development (it will be available commercially soon) with which I've worked experimentally over the last 12 years. I was first introduced to Genesis in 1995 during an Atelier at IRCAM, the musical division of Centre Pompidou; this is the reason I choose to use this synthesized (but not “un-natural”) sounds. The string-like sounds you hear throughout this section are made with a physical modeled Genesis “string ensemble.” (This is a bit too complex to explain in a few lines; I will be happy to provide more details on demand.) The synthesized sounds proceed as an automatic music box, suggesting a form to the musical elements of the composition: A - an inside ambient sound canvas continuum (starting at 0'36''); B - an outside riff (1'21'') of an Arabic song played, sung, and recorded in the esplanade just in front the Centre Pompidou main entrance; C - voices from videos presented in an exhibit inside the Centre (3'30'').
4th Movement – Berlin May 13th 2009. All sounds were recorded in Berlin, between 5 and 6 p.m. in on the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Zimmerstrasse, the location of Checkpoint Charlie, the checkpoint passage through the Berlin Wall between the US sector and East Berlin. The Wall is a 43 km (27 miles) long scar that runs through Berlin; Checkpoint Charlie was the center of this wound. The old building remains, and there is actually a Berlin Wall Museum; it is a very touristic attraction.
The whole movement has as its base (Basso Continuo) the fragment of a concert recorded at the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall in those same days. The music runs all along the soundtrack, shifting slowly and continuously from the foreground to the background. A track of different recorded sounds runs over this base: the Introduzione of this movement presents a recording of Friedrichstrasse street sounds as a Canone starting on different speeds and “tonality” (pitch shifted) and converging (0'00'' to 1'17'') to the original coherent stereo audio signal. At this point, a polyphonic counterpoint of voices speaking different languages (German, Italian, French, English, Japanese) begins over a variegated Bordone of traffic noises: a big truck, cars, a motorbike (1'17'' to 3'43''). The final theme is the sound of the underground station and a train cross-faded (Ripresa at 4'57'') with the original “stereo coherent” audio of the Introduzione. The Finale is announced by applause from the concert’s end.
5th Movement – Torino September 26th 1999. For the final movement, I recovered a vintage work I made in 1999. Ten years ago, I recorded with my Sony TC-D3 cassette recorder 45 minutes (from 11:00 to 11:45 p.m.) of sound at the window of my home (via Silvio Pellico 17, Torino, Italy) in real time (no cut and paste) mixing unpredictable, erratic sounds coming from outside with other well-planned music coming from my audio equipment. I have now made a short remix of this old work, retaining the vintage rustle of dirty analogue sound. The original work was a long one, and the title was also long: Nocturnal-Symphonic-Self portrait of the Author writing a Trio, with apparition of silent statue of Igor Stravinsky and the invisible one of Luc Ferrari (as Ligeti and Berio pass by in the background and, with them, Reich, Riley, and Mahler, and behind them, Chopin and Schubert and the astonished, unmindful ghost of a folk Austrian melody) with the subconscious cryptic final tribute to Franz Joseph Haydn.
At the time. I was simultaneously writing a trio for viola, clarinet, and piano using a quotation from Stravinsky; listening to the (vinyl) disc of Promenade symphonique à travers un paysage musical by Jean Luc Ferrari; the CD of Self-portrait with Reich and Riley (and with Chopin in the Background), the 2nd movement of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Three Pieces for Two Pianos; and a cassette recording of Sinfonia by Luciano Berio, the section where Berio explicitly quotes a fragment of Mahler’s Symphony n.2, which Mahler based on a theme from a composition by Franz Schubert itself based on Austrian folk tunes.
Torino, August 17th 2009
Giuseppe Gavazza is a composer who lives and works in Turin, Italy.