A series about the history of Electroacoustic music in Mexico part 2.
ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ studied percussion at the ENM UNAM and Perfecting school of music Live and Movement in Mexico City. In Berklee College of Music Boston Mass she specialized in film scoring composition. She has taken contemporary composition curses with composers like Agustin Charles, Gabriel Brncic, A. Lewin Richter, Mario Lavista, Helmuth Lahenmann and Javier Álvarez among others. To develop her work as an electroacoustic composer she has received grants from FONCA, BBVA Bancomer, and Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta Canada. Since 2006 she is part of the SNC in Mexico. In 2005 she was the winner of the Goethe Institut-Mexiko competition Remodela con Nosotros. Her personal work has been per- formed in contemporary music concerts and festivals like Women New Music Festival “Inner Voices” at Fullerton University in 2007; 33 Festival International Cervantino, Guanajuato Mexico in 2005; NWEAMO International Music Festival, San Diego Ca in 2005; VII Festival Música y Escena in 2005; Sismo 04 in Méxi- co DF; Primavera en la Habana in 2002. ,Besides composing instrumental and electroacoustic music, she has also composed for dance and theatre.
ROBERTO MORALES (1958) was born in México City, where he studied guitar and musical theory at age 9. Because of his interest on folk music he learned to play different harps like chamula, jarocha and michoacana, as well as guitar and flutes from different regions of the country. In 1976 he was admitted at the Escuela Superior de Música (ESM), where he completed his professional studies on flute, piano and composition. He has taken many improvement workshops in Stratford Upon Avon, UK. In 1981 he formed an interdisci- plinary workshop on music, painting, poetry and dance, which lasted until 1984; this marks the origin of the group Alacrán del Cántaro, which he presently directs. Roberto has composed music for theater, dance, cinema, TV and radio. He is cofounder of the first Computer Music Laboratory in Mexico at the ESM. In 1990 he received the Jóvenes Creadores grant from FONCA. He has been invited as composer in residence in many international universities like Berkeley, San Jose State University, Yale and the McGill University in Canada. He received the SNC grant (1997-2003). In 2003 he completes his MFA at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2004 he received the EISNER prize, granted by this university on behalf of his artistic achievement, and in 2006 he completed a PHD in composition in the same university.
JAVIER ÁLVAREZ (1956) was born in Mexico. He studied clarinet and composition before moving to the United States in 1980 and then to Great Britain, where he attended the Royal College of Music and the City University in London. Among his works with electronic elements is Así el acero (1987), which offers an intriguing mix of a Caribbean steel pan and electronically generated rhythmic patterns. His Mannam (1992), winner of the 1993 Prix Ars Electronica, takes its inspiration from the other side of the globe and the ancient Korean zither, kayagum. Here, Alvarez blends and juxtaposes elements of Korean music with materials and performance techniques drawn from the Mexican folk harp. A number of Álvarez’s works incorporate sonic elements from Latin American music, like the mambo. In Mambo a la Braque (1991), he creates an electroacoustic collage of musical segments drawn from Cuban mambo composer Dámaso Perez Prado’s “Caballo Negro” (Black Horse). The resulting toccata won its composer the 1987 ICEM Prize in France as well as awards from the Bourges International Festival and Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica. In 1993 Álvarez was awarded a fellowship by FONCA that he held until 1999. He has also received the Men- delssohn Scholarship, the Lionel Robbins Award and a Gemini Fellowship. Álvarez lived in England many years where he taught composition and computer music techno- logy at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. Javier’s music has won performances from, amongst oth- ers, Lontano, the Los Angeles Philarmonic New Music Group, Music Projects London, L’Itinéraire, the London Sinfonietta, and the Chicago Symphony New Music Ensemble. He is now living in Mexico where he was head of the Musical Arts Department at the Escuela Superior de Artes in Yucatan, Mexico, and is now the director of the Conservatorio de las Rosas in Morelia Michoacán.
GABRIELA ORTIZ (1964) studied composi-tion at Conservatorio Nacional de Música workshop with Mario Lavista. She obtained her BA in Composition at the ENM, UNAM, with Federico Ibarra as her teacher. In 1990 she wins a British Council grant and travels to London UK, where she studied a postgraduate course at The Gulidhall School for Music and Drama under the tutelage of Robert Saxton. Later on she pursues a PHD in composition and electro-acoustic music at The City University in London, with the support of a UNAM grant. The work of Ga- briela Ortiz includes music for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, computer music and electronic media, as well as symphonic music, that has been performed in various concerts and festivals like: Festival Internacional Cervantino in México; Bourges Festival, France; Electrifying Exotica and Plugged Festival in London; ISCM World Music Days in Switzerland (1991); México (1993) and Stockholm Sweden (1994); México: a Work of Art New York; Het Slagwerkfestival in Holland; Festival Inventionen in Berlin (1994), and Electric Weekend in Sweden. Her piece Altar de Piedra was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and directed by Esa Pekka Salonen, and her Concierto Candela has been interpreted by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow and by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Caracas Venezuela.
MANUEL ROCHA ITURBIDE (1963) is a composer and sound artist, with the specialization in the field of art and technology. He studies a bachelor in composition at the ENM of UNAM with Julio Estrada and F. Ibarra (1985-89), an MFA at Mills College with D. Rosenboom, A. Braxton and A. Curran (1989- 91), a composition and computer music course at IRCAM (1992-93) and a PDH in the field of Aesthetics, Science and Technology of Music, at the Paris VIII University with H. Vaggione. His music has been played at important festivals in Mexico, USA, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Rocha Iturbide has received grants such as: Jóvenes Creadores from FONCA in 1993-94, Japan Foundation in 2000-2001, and Sistema Nacional de Creadores between 2004-2007; in 1996 y 1997 he obtained two prizes at the Luigi Russolo Contest in Italy, as well as two honorific mentions at the Bourges interna- tional electroacoustic music contest, where he also obtained in 2006 the first prize. Besides composing, he has realized sound installations, sound sculptures and intermedia art works presented at important international galleries and museums such as: Galeria Chantal Crusel, Paris France 1994; Artist Space NY, 1997; Sydney Biennale, Australia 1998; ARCO, Madrid Spain 1999; Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre Brazil 2005, etc. He was co-founder and curator of the International sound art festival (1999-2002), and is a researcher in the fields of sound art and elec- troacoustic music. He has been professor at the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the universities UAEM of Morelos, ENM of UNAM, Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana and the Universidad Iberoamericana in México City.
ANTONIO FERNÁNDEZ ROS (1961) studied composition at ENM in UNAM. He obtained his BA in composition at the Mannes College of Music, New York, and continued his post- graduate studies at the City University of New York with Charles Dodge. He specialized in computer music and new technologies in Paris, where he worked at IRCAM, the GRM, and with Iannis Xenakis at the Sorbonne University. He has received twice the FONCA grant of México and is a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation grant. He has also received a grant from the project FABRICA of Benetton. In 1999 he won an Ariel for the best music score for the movie Bajo California: El Límite del Tiempo. In 2001 he composed the score for the film Seres Humanos. In 2004 he made the music for the short film Nunca pasa nada and for the Austrian documentary Volver la vista. In 2006 he composes the music for the theater play Yamaha 300, in 2007 for the play Rosete se pronuncia by Hugo Hiriart, and he finishes the score for the film Dos Abrazos.
ANTONIO RUSSEK (1954) started his musical training very young, while taking part in a juvenile symphonic orchestra in his hometown Torreón and playing the saxophone. As a composer he is recognized for his intense search and usage of electronic sources in music, a work that has pointed him as a pioneer in this field. His musical participation in contemporary theater plays and dance is relevant, with works that conform his impetus for playfulness and exploration. The use of technology has helped him develop musical dimensional aspects by generating virtual sound fields in most of his works, manifested in his sound installations and sound sculptures as well as interdisciplinary performances, where he collaborates with visual artists. He has been in charge of institutional and private projects for the promotion and diffusion of Mexican music, and has participated in discography productions, concerts, conferences, publications and different kind of courses. He won the Premio Cuauhtémoc de las Artes (1988) and was a recipient of the Creadores of CNCA (1991) grant.
GUILLERMO GALINDO (1960). His compositional work includes: concert pieces for solo instruments, chamber orchestras, symphonic orchestras, opera, interactive pieces for performer and computer, digital processing of field recordings, the construction of alternative musical instruments and sound installations and works for radio transmission. His music has been published, recorded and performed in museums and concert halls through Asia, Europe, United States, Mexico and South America. For 15 years, Guillermo Galindo was composer in residence for the contemporary dance company Unbound Spirit Asian/American Dance Performances from San Francisco California. His installations and interactive pieces have been performed in international festivals like ISEA-Zero One Festival, Sound Symposium in New Foundland and at the Chicago Art Institute. In 1997, OFUNAM premiers his piece Ome Acatl, based on the symbolism and proportions of the Aztec calendar. In 2006 the Oakland Symphony Orchestra premiers his score Trade Routes, for Orchestra, chorus and spoken word. Between 2000 and 2001 Galindo writes two opera scores in collaboration with Guillermo Gómez Peña and Anne Carson: the modular opera named Califas 2000 and the electroacoustic opera Decreation/Fight Cherries respectively. His electroacoustic works Haiku II and Cisma for amplified flute and pre-recorded environment opened in 2004 the first series of experimental Latino American music at the Red Cat theater of Edna and Ron Disney in Los Angeles Cal.
VICENTE ROJO CAMA (1960 México City) studied electroacoustic composition in the Superior Conservatory of Paris, and computer music at the Brooklyn College and Stanford University. He has composed concert music and for dance, video, performance, installa-tions, and visual art shows. His music has been performed in multiple national and international forums. At the same time he has pursued a career as a visual artist and graphic designer, designing a number of book covers, catalogues, art books, CDs, posters, etc. He has shown his work in diverse national and international exhibitions, and obtained awards, grants and national and international prizes for his work as a musician and designer.
1/ Sublingual (2006) for tape – Alejandra Hernández.
In this piece, the poem Sublingual by the Mexican poet Rocío Cerón, is the departure point to develop sound manipulation processes through electronic media. Besides articulated sounds, generators of ideas (words that mean something specific), these were used as pure sonic and non-articulated sound objects to create a game between their significance and their musicality. The bass clarinet has a colorist effect. It is a line that acquires different texture transformations trough the performance, giving weight, sense, and form to the piece. The voice that reads the poem belongs to its author, and Fernando Dominguez played the bass Clarinet. Sublingual was part of the project Personae, a collaboration and experi- mental work between contemporary Mexican poets and Mexican composers. This project was curated by the poets Carla Faesler and Rocío Cerón, and composers Manuel Rocha Iturbide and Antonio Fernandez Ros.
2/ Nahual II (1990) for chamula harp and electronics, – Roberto Morales.
Chamula harp: Roberto Morales
This work was originally made for chamula harp, Yamaha SY77 synthesizer and a PC 8086 computer. Nahual II along with Shidve (We are the sons of the incarnated verb) were the compositions that originated my music software Escamol, which consists in a musical generation ambient based in rules and designed with the Prolog programming language. Nahual II was inspired in the meaning that the nahual has in Mexican shamanism, and the work represents the nahual and his route during night. In Nahual II I use two simultaneous planes in its structure: in one side, a generated sequence by the computer based in finite and non-deterministic automats. In this sequence, time, pitch, timbre, dynamics and control parameters in the processor and synthesizer SPX 90, are articulated in a precise way and in real time. On the other side, the chamula harp with a fresh and spontaneous discourse tangles with the processes and their own timbres. It is worth mentioning that the compositional process that I use with the harp is what I define as a real time composition, which consists in negotiating with the improvisation like composed music in an arbitrary time of interpretation, aiming always the maximum drama during its discourse. The acoustic characteristics of the chamula harp such as: unstable tuning, metal strings and their flexibility on the resonant cover, motivated me to re-invent the harp with new technical focus, new tunings, and new expressive and interpretation ways. Nahual II can be played with any computer with the Escamol and Max MSP or Super Collider software.
3/ Papalotl (1987) for piano and tape – Javier Alvarez.
Piano: Philip Mead
Papalotl means butterfly in Nahuatl, and it treats like other works of its author about the paradigm of rhythm, but no as a pure duration calculus, but more as a movement in time, like in dance. This composition is con- structed over approximately 200 short rhythmic models, which are combined in an iso-rhythmic way, in order to conform large musical parts that are juxtaposed and interpolated to build the musical sections of the work. Nevertheless, the determinant procedure is the utilization of a continuous rhythmic modulation through the entire piece, which constantly modifies the accents and the beating in time. The percussive part of the piano also participates in this procedure, and is juxtaposed to the tape part, which is also developed in a continuous form that gives as a result a poli-rhythmic tissue that characterizes the work. An extreme synchronization is then necessary between the pianist and the tape. All the electroacoustic sounds come from the interior of the piano; they were first sampled and then manipulated with a Fairlight CMI 2 in order to create a kind of “gigantic” piano in the tape. As the tape resonates over the fundamental sounds, the real piano completes the high partials of the spectrum. This composition was composed at the laboratory of City University of London in 1987. It won the prize CIME and the prize Euphonie d’Or in Bourges in 1987 and 1992 respectively, and obtained the first mention at the Ars Electronica prize (Linz Austria) in 1988. PHILIP MEAD studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was a prizewinner at the Gaudeamus Competition for interpreters. Since then he has been actively involved in the performance of contemporary music in Britain and abroad. He has commissioned many works for the piano and in 1988 founded the Contemporary Piano Competition. He broadcasts regularly on BBC and European Radios and many of his performances are available on CD.
4/ Five micro études (1992) for tape – Gabriela Ortiz.
This work explores different compositional possibilities for tape, which include timbre transformations and different gestures and sound resolutions. Even though this piece represented at the beginning a try to realize a tape composition, I found big possibilities for the organization of ideas and structures that I used later in instrumental composition. The sound material of this piece is closer to gestures or specific “sound outlines”, than to rhythmic or melodic phrases. Nevertheless, some of the Study’s contain harmonic regions, as well as rhythmic and melodic inflections that are subtly suggested. The piece, as the title says, is divided into five different studies, each one dealing with a particular compositional aspect. Each Study achieves to propose a principal idea within the duration no longer of two minutes. The Micro-Study’s can be referred as brief soundscapes. Five micro études was composed at the laboratories of the City University in London, UK, under the supervision of Simon Emmerson.
5/ Semi No Koe (2001) for flute and tape – Manuel Rocha Iturbide.
Flute: Alejandro Escuer
This work was conceived and almost entirely produced in Tokyo Japan. I arrived to this country in the month of august 2000, on plain summer, a station where the cicadas sing frenetically because after years of being under the earth in the form of embryo, they finally come out only two or three weeks in order to fly and sing with out stop before perishing. This phenomena impressed me allot, and I decided then to write a work for flute and two digital tracks where the timbres of the flute would emulate the birth of the cicadas. To structure this piece I decided to use the haiku formula, a small Japanese poem form invented by Basho in the XVII century. These poems are constructed by 17 syllables, in the order 5, 7, 5. On the other hand, the haiku’s written by Basho and by other early Japanese poet’s talk constantly about sounds produced by insects and other animals, and about how they break with silence. These types of poems have a strong influence of zen philosophy. I discovered a poem written by Basho about cicadas, which I liked due to its images, contrasting rhythm and structure: “The stillness/ Soaking into stones/ Cicada’s cry”. Semi no Koe could be though as a programmatic work, although the decisions regarding the different formal aspects of the piece were defined starting from the fractal proportions of the ratio 5:7:5. In this way, the work is carefully structured in a fractal way, but it also try’s to emulate through the acoustic and electroacoustic sounds of the flute and the cicadas, the abstract complexity of nature.
ALEJANDRO ESCUER (1963) is a solo flute player active in musical creation and teaching. His career has won him flattering critics by personalities such as the art director of TIME MAGAZINE, Classical Music Review, American Record Guide, New Music Conoisseur, Robert Dick (who praised Alejan- dro as one of the greatest and most creative performers today), and by Karlheinz Stockhausen who commented: Far from the ordinary, his music and performance are charged with great emotion and beauty. As a composer he has developed important discourses founded on improvisation disciplines in relation with visual arts and technology, designing various pieces for contemporary dance and stage acts that have been performed in México and the United States. He has won prizes like: Rockefeller Foundation, Premio y Beca de Artes given by UNAM; first prize on performance of INBA; Fideicomiso para la Cultura México-Estados Unidos, etc. Since 2002 he is member of the International Music Council/UNESCO. Alejandro Escuer is founder and artistic director of the ONIX Ensamble, a group devoted to spread out Mexican contemporary music and from other countries through artistic, communitarian and educational programs.
6/ Con jícamo (1993) for tape – Antonio Fernández Ros.
Based in the marimba sound, and in different percussion sounds and their electronic modification, this work is an exercise that explores rhythmic transformation processes based in a short motif.
7/ Babel de nuevo (Babel again) (1998) for 8 channels (stereo version) – Antonio Russek.
The materials I use as sound source are recordings of the bass flute, human voices and prepared piano. I established a pattern of dimensional sound diffusion in an eight channel format, with the purpose of projecting the music in open spaces. The original proposal required the construction of a ten meter high tower where the speakers were installed in a vertical distribution of four levels, oriented towards the four cardinal points in order to offer a 360° projection. An alternative installation consists in putting the eight speakers in one plane surrounding the audience.
8/ Aura6 (2006) for tape – Guillermo Galindo.
Aura6 is a study on frequency, resonance, amplitude modulation and feedback. This piece resembles an imaginary dense, ethereal and volatile landscape in which existing objects defy the limits established by light, space and time. Aura6 plays with the idea of being in an ambiance of unfamiliar acoustic qualities. Someplace where the physical sound characteristics of sound that we know behave in an unpredictable manner.
9/ Erótica II (1986) for violin, balloon and electronics – Vicente Rojo Cama.
Violin: Carlo Nicolau, Balloon: Vicente Rojo Cama In this work, the sound relationships between a violin and a plastic inflated balloon are explored. The glissandi, pizzicatos, screeching and other sounds that the violin is able to play, are contra posed, interplaying and merging with the rubbing, pinching, hitting and other effects obtained manually with the balloon. The sounds produced by both instruments were electronically modified in real time during their recording in four channels, and later mixed down to two channels. The timbre combination of these two different and almost opposed sound sources, along with their electronic modification, produce an outcome where it is not easy to discern what is the origin of the sounds emanating from the soundtrack. This work was premiered at the Jornadas de Búsqueda in the ENM of UNAM, Mexico 1987.
CARLO NICOLAU began at age 9 studying classical violin and intuitively composing music using the family’s rusty living room piano. Four years later he earned a scholarship to continue his studies at the National Conservatory in Tours, France. Upon his re- turn to Mexico City he made a living playing the violin in some of the top orchestras and founded the legendary prog-rock-chamber ensemble NAZCA. Carlo moved to New York in 1988 and formed The Devil’s Breakfast, another prog-rock band performing in many NY venues including monthly sold out shows at the Knitting Factory. Carlo has written over 200 spots for television and scored the feature film SANTITOS (1999 Sundance Film Festival winner) and has worked with the choreographers Stephen Petronio and Sondra Loring.
Disc 2 from the album:
Electroacustico [1960 – 2007] IRD 002.
Many thanks to the artistic director of this unique document Manuel Rocha.