by Giuseppe Gavazza

A short time ago, in these same pages (The Art Section, Vol. I, No. 1, June 2007), I wrote:

Music history is the history of musical writings (scores); but musical writing was invented just to synchronize sounds. (...) Musical writing imposes a lexical vision (audition) of music but more and more, the listener’s consciousness realizes that form has meaning only because it resonates in our internal perception, connected with memory.

But will musical writing survive? This is an interesting question. Changing parameters of music performance and reception change the concept of the musical work.

Have we (the Western Tradition?) developed a written-score based history of music because we consider traditionally scored music to be “good” music, or just because paper scores were easy to archive and to study? Things have changed: in the last decades, sound recordings have become easier to archive than written papers.

Will we conserve the notion of the score as the reference point (the source) of musical works?

In such a case what is and what will be a music score?

Are vinyl LPs and CDs musical scores?

And what constitutes a score now, in the era of digitally streamed sound?

Giuseppe Gavazza, Memoria dei sensi (Sense Memory), 2003. Video Score.



In Memoria dei sensi (Sense Memory), I tried to realize a video score. A score is written music useful (necessary) to perform and synchronize complex polyphonic textures. With a score, it becomes possible to read music. This is important primarily for performers, but also for readers wanting simply to listen to or to analyze the musical text. A score could be anything that induces the listener to synchronize hearing and vision. To discover more about Memoria dei sensi, look at it.

Giuseppe Gavazza, Banalità del Male (The Banality of Evil), 2004. Score.

Banalite del Male - G. Gavazza

Banalità del male (The Banality of Evil) take its title from Hannah Arendt.

Composed for the Phonurgia Nova Competition, this audiowork uses only 5 sound fragments:

1 – Bell tolls, Lausanne, 29.03.1981. 0’14’’
2 – Benito Mussolini, announcement of declaration of war, Rome, 1940. 0’46’’
3 - Mao Zedong, speech at the Chinese people's advisory congress, 15- 06.1949. 0’40’’
4 - Wojciech Jaruzelski, speech for military law order, Poland, 1981. 1’02’’
5 - Radio France Culture, Radio Libre, Auschwiz. 0’22’’

In a simple mix with no sound treatment, the voices of three dictators build a simple antiphonary melting in the ambient sounds of the three recordings. This sad counterpoint is open by funerary bell tolls and finishes in a melancholic music and a gentle bird’s song.

Giuseppe Gavazza, Sonomonic, 2003.

Sonomonic - G. Gavazza

SonoMonic is a mono-voice polyphonic sonogram. The theme, a short audio sample of a speaking self-referential voice (“Sono Monica”; "I am Monica"), is composed with canonic techniques of early vocal polyphony: imitation, canon, augmentation, diminution, transposition. The quest here is less for harmonic consonance than for a subtle but complex articulation of a timbre's homogeneity.

IGiuseppe Gavazza, GiPod Tornado, 2003.

GiPod Tornado - Giuseppe Gavazza

GiPod Tornado refers to G-Spot Tornado, a hyper-energetic, composite, wonderful composition by Frank Zappa (on Jazz from Hell, 1986). That whole album was performed on the Synclavier DMS, one of the early (and, at that time, the best) digital music synthesizers. 

GiPod Tornado is not at all a tornado and, despite having the same duration, it is just the opposite of Zappa's masterpiece. Rather than a composition, it is barely a sound, a very calm one: a rich harmonic slow glissando that goes down and down, infinitely. This kind of listening paradox (made possible by first digital sound synthesis programs) is a strange perception: being very static, it captures the listener’s attention and induces ecstatic listening that persists in memory (like taste or smell) after the sound stops. 

I have prepared a metascore for this non-composite composition: a gadget to cut and pocket as a tool for our own internal music. Also the graphical appearance of GiPod Tornado (Gi is for my name, Pod is for Portable Oblivion Device) is an easily identifiable quotation.

Giuseppe Gavazza is a composer who lives and works in Turin, Italy.