(Ita) Tre conversazioni con il filosofo Stefano Catucci
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A journey of knowledge
Writing is a road to knowledge. I have always been fascinated by paths that demand and open up further interrogatives. By crossing them, I can explore new areas. This is why my music must ask questions: questions to myself, and questions to the listening audience. Through my music I try to come to terms with what has preceded me. Music connected by thin strings and disciplines left unfinished by tradition. Music as a form of living drama: not so much manifested in a manipulative art by combining sounds, but more so a reflection of human experience. Fraught with narration, albeit lacking in sets. Even without theatre, many forms of theatre exist.
Worlds of different sounds
Stylistic mobility is essential in reaching the many aspects and various themes in musical and theatrical subjects. I listen to the adaptability with which the instrument-orchestra is treated; a huge subject, formless, able to take shape according to the vision of the dramatic arc. Subjects can be infinitely varied and changeable. For each one, the protective field of its musical representation must be identified and moulded. Shakespeare or daily life: everything can be music. For every chosen subject, I fine-tune a strategy in order to cross that field. At times it is the subject that suggests how to define the opera from a technical point of view: it points me towards the material, the chemistry needed for the alchemy that can be harmonically rich or piercingly noisy. Grainy or soft. In this case, the subject reveals the instruments. It defines worlds of different sounds. It is possible to re-interpret Shakespeare. The magic of these texts, liquid and bodiless, enables them to continuously change shape and take on a new identity. By highlighting contemporary, current elements, we can access infinite ways to tell the same story. This is one of the privileges bestowed upon a myth compared to an ideology that is bound by time: to confer an absolute abstract to history and art. At other times, I will start from the captivating power of sound: from a vision of joining together sounds that have their own intrinsic power, their own theatrical features. I work on it; I develop it without weighing it down with any particular significance. Even in this case, my music tells a story. But not in a didactic way: it is a narrative that leads us to what is inside a sound, from the magmatic mass of an orchestra to the most faint and supple key. It is a fabula in and around sounds. Created to lose the connotations of sound, to forget its common definition. Re-interpreting the original. It is a multi-stratified score and each layer offers a new dramatic element. By interpreting and listening to it on various levels, we begin a process towards musical knowledge that can be accomplished from different angles. I don’t take anything for granted nor do I offer only one version of listening. Gradual access to a deeper level of the score is left to the artistic sensibility of the performer. This way, there is always something left to discover. I think that the possibility of allowing for various levels of interpretation, of offering many listening points, represents the power of the work of art in itself.
Fabula, Epos, Ludus
I narrate my life’s path through sound. I have always loved stories, the sense of translating fables into music. An endless tale handed down, backwards and forwards in time. Cast into an epic, absolute dimension. Along with the epic, I place the elements of poetry and game (ludus), of surrealism, in my writing. The game between parts; the trick of making unexpected movements with sounds; creating fantasies that are at times pataphysical; not being afraid of kitsch. Fantasy is a release. It fulfils my desire to interpret everything that happens to me, to be able to interpret reality and assimilate it into a score. Ever since I was a boy, I have looked at the things around me with the fear that they would disappear. I can stave the threat of extinction of my childhood world, of the people I love, of my books – like those by Jules Verne – in a composition.
Devices and Nature
The structure of an imaginative musical work is my way of interacting with the world. The most inner way to stay in touch with reality: to react to moments of the here-and-now by giving them form and content in music. This was the case with Afterthought where I translated the London bombings into sounds. In this tale led by sound, all is fair. Including the use of technology that nevertheless carries out a dramatic function when permeated within the structure of an opera. It is not just a decorative device but rather an important supporting role; it extends the work into the future, like a prosthesis, where instruments from the past cannot reach. Video technology, the manipulation of sound in real time, is a means that meets the demands posed by today’s ear that is in continuous evolution. The ear in present times changes with each passing moment. Even in the case of this seemingly unrestrained mutation, I do not approach writing without visualizing where my music will end up. With I Cenci, for example, I conceived the possibility of deforming Artaud through a gradual and unrelenting transformation of the existent: electronics give voice to Artaud’s imagination, to his impossible desire to hear the sounds of human organs. The technological aid works and it works well when the metamorphosis is mysterious, arcane, not revealed. When the device is not identifiable. When the unnatural effect is indistinguishable from the natural element.