A series about the history of Electroacoustic music in Mexico part I.
MANUEL DE ELÍAS (1939) is a composer and orchestra director born in México City. He studied piano and composition with his father, at the National Conservatory, the National School of Music (ENM), and later in the USA and Europe. He made an important career as an orchestra director performing Mexican, Latino American and contemporary music in general. He founded the Orquesta Sinfónica de Veracruz and the Filarmónica de Jalisco. He is a member of the Academia de Artes and has been distinguished with the prize Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes (1992). In 2000 he was organizer of the XI Foro de Compositores del Caribe and president of the jury for the prize Premio Tomás Luis de Victoria, the most important award for consecrated composers coming from Spanish speaking countries.
MARIO LAVISTA (1943) was born in México City. He studied composition with Carlos Chávez, Héctor Quintanar, and musical analysis with Rodolfo Halffter at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música (CNM). From 1967 to 1969 he received a grant from the French government in order to study with Jean Etienne Marie at the Schola Cantorum. In 1969 he was a student of Stockhausen at the Reinische Musikschule of Cologne and participated at the International new music courses in Darmstadt, Germany. He founded in 1970 the improvisation group Quanta, interested in the simultaneous creation and interpretation and in the relationships between “live” music and electroacoustic music. He realized graphic musical Works with the painter Arnaldo Coen and composed music for various films of Nicolás Echeverría. His interest in the exploration and research of new possible instrumental and expressive techniques has taken him to a close collaboration with some outstanding performers. In 1987 he obtained the Guggenheim grant in order to write his opera Aura, and he was named a member of the Academia de Artes. In 1991 he received the Prize Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes and two years later CONACULTA distinguished him as a Creador Emérito. In 1998 he entered El Colegio Nacional. Presently he teaches composition, analysis and XX century musical language at the CNM and he is the director of the magazine Pauta, cuadernos de teoría y crítica musical.
MANUEL ENRÍQUEZ (1926) was born in Ocotlán Jalisco and died in México City in 1994. He was one of the most important musical figures in Mexico in the second half of the XXth century. In 1955 he had a grant at the Juilliard School of Music of NY, where he studied chamber music with Louis Persinger and composition with Peter Mennin. In the beginning of the 70’s Enríquez went to the Center of electronic music at the Columbia Princeton Univer- sity in NY in order to experiment with electronic media and to study the new resources that contemporary technology offered at the time. He also participated at the Darmstadt International Course where he became friend of important composers belonging to the European vanguard such as: Berio, Xenakis, Stockhausen, Penderecki and Ligeti. As a violin player he was a member of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, the Cuarteto de México, and concertino of the Sinfónica de Guadala- jara. He was the director of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música and the CENIDIM musical research institute. He was also vice-president of the UNESCO international music council and founded the Foro Internacional de Música Nueva, a music festival that promoted Mexican electroacoustic music. As a professor he was invi- ted to teach courses in Montreal, at the Carleton College of Northfield, Minnesota; he thought composition at the “Manuel de Falla” courses in Granada Spain, was visiting professor at UCLA in Los Angeles (1991,1993) and at the Center for Experimental Music in San Diego UCSD. He obtained important prizes such as Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes de México
FRANCISCO NUÑEZ (1945) was born in La Piedad, Michoacán. This composer, pianist and orchestra director, pedagogue, researcher and teacher of various generations have presented his compositions in all the important Mexican festivals, and in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He obtained the following prizes and distinctions: Ier Premio de Composición Silvestre Revueltas in 1976 (UNAM), Premio de piano Manuel M. Ponce in 1973 (INBA), 2° Premio de composición de la UAEM in 1972, Presea José Tocaven Lavín given by the Michoacán governmet, etc. He was director of the Escuela Superior de Música School from 1977 to 1983. He created with Roberto Morales the first Computer- Music laboratory in Mexico in 1986. In Querétaro he created in 1995 the Centro de Creación Musical through which he has created Symposia dedicated to contemporary music. He has given cycles and conferences since 1970 about the theory of rhythm and Music in relation to Science and Philosophy. His production includes all genres, including concrete music, electroacoustic and computer music, with a particular interest in symphonic and chamber music where his vocal works outstand. He has realized seven Symposia in Querétaro since 1998 dedicated to the Mexican Composition School, analyzing works of composers form the beginning of the XXth Century to the present under the mirror of the most representative XXth Century creators.
HÉCTOR QUINTANAR (1936) was born in México City. He starts his musical career at the Escuela Superior de Música and later at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música. He was a student of Carlos Chávez in his composition workshop and later his assistant, and when Chávez died he became the director. He studied electronic music in New York and concrete music in Paris, and founded the first electronic music laboratory in México in 1970. He was the music director at UNAM. In 1972 he obtained the Guggenheim grant. From 1965 to 1970 he organized the Festival de Música Contemporánea del INBA. He was orchestra director of the OFUNAM, the Michoacán Symphonic Orchestra and the Universidad de Guanajuato Symphonic Orchestra. Presently he teaches at the Guanajuato University and at the Escuela Superior de música belonging to INBA.
JULIO ESTRADA (1943). Since the beginning, his music proposes the fusion of imagination and research. The composition processes has driven him to organize the improvisation, for example with Memorias for piano (1971). His book Music and theory of finite groups gives mathematical basis for his first theoretical propositions: compositional mechanisms with Melódica (1973); nets, with the chants alterno (1978), Tejido, Oculto; finite groups, with Canto mnémico. As general editor of the encyclopedic work La música de México he proposes the search of the musical origins of pre Hispanic México and the critique of the official culture. His book El sonido en Rulfo was the base for his Opera Pedro Páramo (1992-2006), including different modules: “Doloritas”, first part of Pedro Páramo, quasi una ópera radiofónica (1992); mictlan, femenine voice, ruidista and double bass (1992); miqi’nahual, double bass (1992); hum, for 5 voices (1999-2002). His research in the field of theory and composition synthesize two basic notions: the potential of intervals and scales —Canto naciente (1975-78)—and that of the continuous macro timbre developed in eua’on (electroacoustic), eua’on’ome (orchestra), eolo’oolin (6 percussions) the yuunohui for string soloist in different combinations, or ishini’ioni (string quartet). Salabert Editions edit his work since 1980. He has been distinguished with different prizes such as the Darmstadt courses (1971), the Radio Nacional de España (1992) and the Prix Prince Pierre de Mó- naco (1993). He received a Doctorate cum laude in musicology at the Strasbourg University, France. He teaches since 1971 at ENM and is the director (starting in 1996) of the Laboratorio de Creación Musical at the same school. He is a full time researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas and member of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, and of the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias. He was professor at the Centre de Mathématiques et Automatiques Musicales of Paris (1980-86), and the government of France has distinguished him in two occasions with the Orden de las Artes y las Letras.
CARLOS JIMÉNEZ MABARAK (1916-1996) was a Mexican composer. He studied in Chile, at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Musicales y Dramáticos of Ixes in Belgium, and at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels. He took classes with Silvestre Revueltas at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Mexico City, school where he became professor later. He was also professor at the ENM of UNAM. He wrote music for ballet, theater and cinema. Jiménez Mabarak was part of a Mexican composers generation that lived the transition between Nationalism and Modernism. He became interested very early in the dodecaphonic tech- niques and thought them to his pupils. He was the first Mexican composer to create an electroacoustic work in 1960.
Works with a note of the composers:
1/ Non novo sed nova (Nothing new but in a new way, 1974) for tape, MANUEL DE ELÍAS Everything is derived from this concept: to make music with other resources; that musical thinking rules over technology using it only as a media. I make use of a game of generators and very briefly of a keyboard. The parameters (mix of acoustic and electroacoustic sequences) were realized in the Laboratory of the National Music Conservatory in Mexico where I participated in the first “live” electroacoustic music concert.
2/ Contrapunto (Counterpoint) (1972) for tape, MARIO LAVISTA The elements that conform the musical material of this work have a diverse and maybe contradictory origin. Integrating these elements in a coherent structure implies difficult problems for the formal aspect of the piece, especially owing to the heterogeneity of the materials. Mahler’s 9th symphony, The Rolling Stones, music from the Japanese imperial court named gagaku, fragments of noh theater, electronic sounds, organ, The Beatles, a waltz by Richard Strauss, Zen Buddhism music, a USA radio station, national anthems from México, Japan and USA, etc, are all elements that appear in the work, sometimes literally. All of them have been manipulated and transformed until becoming unrecognizable at times, due to the electroacoustic techniques used such as filtering, frequency and amplitude modulation, pitch variation and editing. This is why in some passages of the work electronic sounds can be confused with a fragment of Mahler’s 9th, or Buddhist chants with Jimmy Hendrix for example. The superposition of such elements and their articulation in time originate a polyphonic texture and counterpoint interplay.
3/ Viols (1972) for violin and tape, MANUEL ENRÍQUEZ Violin: Manuel Enríquez Tape realized in March 1972 at the laboratories of Columbia-Princeton in NY, where the only sound source is the violin, and whose transoformed and processed sounds are the result of the sterephonic track which is the complementary factor of the piece. The original material had been previously written in a score that is competely graphic and that can be played in any string instrument. When it is presented in this version, it appears with the name of Móvil II, composed in Madrid in October 1969.
The present interpretation of Manuel Enriquez was recorded at the studios RIVE in Madrid on june 13th 1976. The technical part was the responsability of the composer Pablo Riviere.
4/ Juegos sensoriales (Sensorial games) (1987) for tape, FRANCISCO NUÑEZ This composition was premiered at the festival En torno a los sonidos electrónicos in January 1988 at the Sala Manuel M. Ponce of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. There was an important collaboration with Roberto Morales in the manipulation of the Midi system and the DX7 Yamaha synthesizer, with which we generated many “voices” for the concerts we started to organize using the FM synthesis resources. A previous score was generated inspired in these elements and taking advantage of the synthesizer’s keys, maintaining always a climax concept over the electronic coloring. My contacts with Concrete Music at the Composition Workshop of Carlos Chávez in 1965-66 and 67, and specifically with Jean Etienne Marie in France, had enriched my sonic imagination. This is a kind of synthesis of my sensorial and emotional perceptions where timbre responds to my total sense of sound spectra.
5/ Diálogos (Dialogs) (1973) for piano and tape, HÉCTOR QUINTANAR
Piano: Robert Miller The work Diálogos for piano and electronic sounds reflects an important period of work for Héctor Quintanar (his own words). It was realized under the supervision of Mario Davidovksy, at the Center of Electronic Music of the Columbia-Princeton University. The interest for the notation and the control of electronic sound material is going to relate Quintanar’s music clearly to certain mixed pieces by Davidovsky, where the magnetic tape material is completely written, with “quavers, semi quavers and silences” (interview with H. Quintanar in May 2000). In Diálogos, the pitch of sound, musical intention (frequently dramatic), timbre and texture fusion, and the transformations of the resonance, are meeting points that take place between the piano and the electronics. The score situates clearly in time the interplay of the two sound sources. Robert Miller premiered this piece in 1973 in a Vermont festival organized by Mario Davidovsky.
ROBERT MILLER (1930-1981) was an American pianist and attorney. A graduate of Princeton University, he also taught piano there and served on the faculty of the Berkshire (later Tanglewood). A regular member of the Group for Contemporary Music (New York, N.Y.) and the Composers Conference, he made many recordings of contemporary music for such labels as Columbia. An active advocate of new music, many composers, like Milton Babbit, dedicated compositions to him, including Charles Wuorinen, George Perle, Mario Davidovsky and Stefan Wolpe.
6/ Misa prehistórica (Prehistoric mass) (1980) for tape, MANUEL ENRÍQUEZ
Frist movement Electroacoustic work in five movements composed in 1981 for the dance choreography created by Amalia Hernández, and based in the cave paintings found in the state of Baja California. Unfortunately, the show was never presented.
7/ eua’on (1980) for tape, JULIO ESTRADA This work broke with the universe of scales. The basis of the process was a drawing for the UPIC computer created by Xenakis. My drawings in the digital table of the machine incited me to do a direct musical creation and showed me the close relationship between seeing and hearing. To face the electronic sound rigidity I made use of my digitized voice that creates a multiphonic, a product of its modulation with a hoarse roar in the infra-low register. Conceived as a continuous, eua’on is a long scream made from hundreds of voices that generates a dense choral mass reminding us the threaded sonority of the wind, of physical changes similar to the human voice and that, when stretched with elasticity toward the highs, is converted into a noisy scream.
8/ Paraíso de los ahogados (Paradise of the drowned) (1960) for tape, CARLOS JIMÉNEZ MABARAK Jimenez Mabarak created this composition for the choreography of the ballet El paraíso de los ahogados by Guillermina Bravo, with the art direction of Raúl Flores Canelo. It was premiered on October 4th 1960 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in México City. The choreographic idea was based in a Pre Hispanic myth where all people dying drowned were driven by two dogs through seven rivers until arriving at a paradise chosen by the rain and germination god Tlaloc. Guillermina Bravo based also her ideas in the paintings of a temple in Tepantitla in the Teotihuacán archeological zone. The choreography is divided in four parts, Fishing scene, Storm scene, Way to the paradise and Paradisiacal dances. Jiménez Mabarak relates about the conta- gious creative fever of G. Bravo, which inspired him to make a sound edition on tape. Because of his lack of experience in electroacoustic music, the audio technician of the Bellas Artes Palce Hall, Joseph R. Hellmer, collaborated in a crucial way with him in the creation of the work. They made the storm with a straw and a glass of water, and used a Cora indigenous chant distorting it. In the words of JM: “they were endless recording sessions; we had to choose between more than two rolls that we made with bubbles, Hellmer and I worked with Guillermina for more than seven months; this is, a little more than the time required for a regular score. This shows that all labor was planned and realized with microscopic care”.
Disc I from the album:
Electroacustico [1960 – 2007] IRD 002.
Many thanks to the artistic director of this unique document Manuel Rocha.