mdi ensemble
Yoichi Sugiyama   

Two parallel areas of expression have characterised the music that I have written up to now: a ludic tendency and an inclination towards the meditative. The former pertains to the pieces in which I would like to discern an element of ironic theatricality, certain hints of the grotesque and a propensity towards groove (5, 7, 11 andQuesto è un gruppo e pace); the latter is found in compositions oriented towards a search for the intimate and kind gesture (Esistere lago, nulla e un tempo and other pieces not included in this CD). In these two musical personalities there are some common elements, like the desire to seek a personal musical rhetoric, directness of expression and a yearning to avoid a sense of decadence. The implications of the direct expression are concision, explicit communication, structural transparency and an inclination towards classical formal equilibriums. These concerns have helped me to understand how difficult it is to arrive at simple architectures. As for the expression of decadence, I have heard it in music that transmits to me a sense of negative decomposition, and in Germany I perceived it in its most glaring forms: from the scratching and scraping on musical instruments in noise concerts in Berlin to the window displays in Frankfurt’s sex shops, where there wasn’t anything that wasn’t abrasive and distressing. Certainly, I’ve no reason to retract any of this, but at a certain point I thought that if any sadomasochistic musical ideas did come to me, I would tie them in with a good dose of divertissement, as if to dilute them in a game, or alternatively, I would translate them into suave movement.

In the pieces with electronics, my aspiration is to have the listener perceive that the music is written “now”, in the moment that I realise it. I would like to still feel this need many years from now, when, to paraphrase Picasso, I will have come to realise that it takes a long time to become young. At times I draw inspiration from the world of rhythmic electronic music. I began to do so in 1999, with a study for flute and electronics, and even more so with 5, written in 2002. At my conservatorium I often encounter DJ/producers, fans of synthpop, cultivators of experimental techno and so on. All of this cannot not have an influence, at least in part, on what I write. The electronics of my pieces is often conceived as a synchronic element. The rhythmic structures are characterised by what I call digital expression, where the word “digital” is to be taken not only in its common sense but as a form of expression made up of quantised rhythms that “split” the millisecond. It’s precisely this precision in the temporal flow that should unleash the digital expression. The electronics is superimposed on or hooked up to the live instruments so as to give back a sound that is by and large “geometric”, rectilinear, and assimilable with discretised digital figures. Thus, through synthetic sounds and electronic elaborations I seek to elucidate the sense of rhythmic articulation.

At various points in 5, 7, 11 and Questo è un gruppo e pace there are structures wedged into each other. To point to some of the basic ideas in these pieces, one might speak of “rhythmico-dialogic segmentation”: between one instrument and another there come into play rapid gestural exchanges of a rhythmic character, there are actions/reactions between groups of notes (or between notes and timbres), ironic, lightning-quick dialectics between sonoric fragments that mutually complete one another. Esistere lago, nulla e un tempo, on the other hand, develops ideas that are the mirror image of those just illustrated: union more than fragmentation, calm rather than frenzy… Perhaps the double character referred to at the beginning is an unconscious way of generating the idea of opposites that complete each other, as if out of a desire to summon up the figure of a musical tao.

Not wanting to make specific references in the titles, I used numbers to identify the pieces, like 5, 7 and 11. There are also some non-numerical titles of a vaguely Dadaist stamp that came about out of an attraction I have to nonsense. What’s involved are sentences conceived as if tiny compositions in words: meaning does not have priority in the choice of the terms, as if every single word were a note or a timbre.

I conclude by listing almost off the top of my head the things that might have influenced the compositions I write: the character of 17th and 18th century Italian instrumental music, the paintings of Klee and Mirò, relativism, sampling, children’s colour drawings, the delightful illustrations of Jacques Callot, IDM electronics, MIDI sequencers, Wilhelm von Gloeden’s photos, Rossini’s irony, Tristan Tzara’s Dadaist writings, certain landscapes that have disappeared…

Emanuele Casale