Presence and resonance
This sequence of works by Jonathan Impett explores the co-existence in contemporary culture of new music creation and the vast landscape of historical music – music that is at once de-historicised by participating in our contemporary culture and re-historicised by an ever-increasing awareness of practice and context. Works take their structure, material and performance dynamics (in the form of sound processing) from the music to which they refer:
- Memoria colorata - Messe de Notre-Dame (Machaut, Paris, c. 1300)
- Prado florido – Prado verde y florido (Guerrero, Lisbon, late C16th)
- Folto giardino I and II – Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart, Prague, 1786)
- Apollo e Marsyas – Paeans of Athanaios, Limenios (Delphi, 128 BCE)
In each, the performance is situated in both a physical and virtual environment (installation and sound processing) reflecting the use of the material as embodied in the score. Wave phenomena provide the common technique for manipulating material across its various modes of instantiation: score, physical gesture, sound processing, computational modelling.
Memoria colorata extrapolates from melodic, rhythmic and harmonic tendencies in the credo of Machaut’s mass.
Prado florido explores sound as wave rather than object. Fragments of Guerrero recombine as they are blown (literally and metaphorically) at different degrees of dissolution through the score, the apparently silent actions of the percussionist and the sound processing. As wave phenomena move across the meadow of Guerrero’s title, the particles recombine within the sea of sound formed by the resonance of cymbals – played near-silently but processed and diffused through the space.
Folto giardino I and II
Folto giardino I (graphic score for improvising ensemble) and II (full orchestral score) take the sonic drama of the last act of Figaro (a farce of mis- and over-hearing) to remap the dynamics and mutual knowledge of groups and individuals working independently, together or in conflict. An installation of suspended strings (performing as loudspeakers, performable as percussion and listening as microphones) constitutes the ‘dense garden’ that plays a crucial role.
Impett, Jonathan (2017) Folto giardino: hybrid cross-pollination of score, performance, installation and technology. Leonardo Music Journal, 27. pp. 54-56. ISSN 0961-1215. https://doi.org/10.1162/lmj_a_01015 (> Download)
Apollo e Marsia
Apollo e Marsia (Apollo) (viola d’amore, long tubes and computer) sets out from Tintoretto’s image of Ovid’s story, depicting a viola da braccio with sympathetic strings and a long flute. Tintoretto represents the moment after the contest, before Midas’ judgement. Each player (here Apollo) remembers the duel differently. Even such immediate memory is nonlinear – still moreso our cultural memory. The violist’s memory of the other (through resonant tubes) provides a context for the fragmentation of his self-memory of traces of an unrecoverable song – a hymn to Apollo from Delphi (c. 138 BC), preserved only in an inscription in stone.