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 Paolo Ferrari e Vittorio Zago


 Notes for an  introduction to

In-abstracto complexu: (the) activity of music

for two pianos and eight hands


In-abstracto complexu: (the) activity of music consists of four Stages superimposed, each of them concerning one performer:

1. Each Stage is independent and, at the same time, mutually interactive. 

2. Each microcell of the composition exists specifically on its own and interacts, at the same time, on all the others, while acquiring in this (further) context the particular value of system (a-system)1 with complex (a-complex) interweaving = in-abstracto complexu. By Musical cell we refer to one single chord, one single melody fragment, one single gesture, one single Stage or the complexity of the composition as a whole: the composition has a structural and expressive conception of a holistic kind [unitary (complex) system].

3. Each single cell shows a particular expressive and delivery modality (activitas),  called affective: this means that each unity – of which the piece is made, according to the property of non-subalternity, of freedom to (re)sound independently - has the capability of generating a further sound expression  (it is matrix in potentia of further links between sound cells = activity of  music). Each cell is not exhausted within itself (it is not self-mirroring in a sterile way) but given its starting and ceasing beyond any link of direct already-established dependence on other cells, either adjacent or remote - its relationship to the others is mostly based on a criterion of equality - it both opens onto and opens up many possibilities and directions only bound to the relational field  it establishes in the moment it sounds (it has access to the time of performance): it is matrix of alterity.

4. Rhythm is closely connected to the affective property mentioned above: time progression is fluctuating: there is a transition from one rhythmic condition to the other without solution of continuity. The temporal fluctuation operating within the piece also operates in each single particle. This kind of time has the property-capability of intrinsic oscillation according to the (ultra-)systemic modality of the composition (the temporal characteristic is not independent of the pitches, of the timbers and dynamics: time of interpretation is congruous with the tempo in that it advances its beat).

5. This temporal characteristic shows itself both within each Stage as well as in the superimposition of stages, leaving to each single interpreter (the interpreter of each Stage) to interact with the others (the interpreters of the other Stages) in the most congruous way (temporal congruity) according to the interaction (and requirements) of the interpretation.

This involves both the will to interpret pertaining to the sensitivity of the interpreter (subjective characteristic) and the relationship it  establishes with the place in which the performance is under way or is to take place, including in particular the audience response (inclusion of objective parameters).

6. Given items 1 and 2 - describing a simultaneous independence and interdependence of each single element with respect to the others and given item 4  stating the capability-property of temporal oscillation (of each single cell as a whole together with all the others), there emerges one of the main characteristics pertaining to the composition we are introducing here and to other works conceived and written according to these new a-systemic principles. This characteristic implies the intrinsic capability of the piece (and of the others of the same kind) to appear deeply new at each performance - sometimes apparently even unrecognisable in its particular identity albeit recognisable in its specific belonging difference - this music proves to be extremely sensitive to the interpretation which, in its turn, is bound to the conditions in which music interweaves (item 5).

7. The performer  will therefore be, to the highest degree, interpreter and re-creator of the above mentioned piece at each new performance. To this purpose, the interpreter is expected to give full and rich expression to his or her abstract expressivity = activity of music.

8. The ensemble (the whole of performers), in each performance, act as the vehicle (medium) of the transformation of the musical piece, since each single interpreter is the subject of change  as well as changing place (activity of music).

9. The independence of each single part, the temporal oscillation, the non fixity of  the chosen dynamics (within limits which will be indicated), time suspension (tempo rubato and oscillatory time = subliminal or inner time) imply in this musical context variables never expressed before in music. These variables, as stated, allow the performer to be a sensitive interpreter and good re-creator of the musical piece he is working on. In this way, the musical piece is almost new every time it is performed, although it preserves its constant basic identity. This is expressed through the summation of the above properties and by the complex unity these imply (musical a-system in complex interweaving).

10. All this gives rise to expressive freedom which has, however, to move (oscillate) within the limits of the relationships established by the musical writing. Freedom of performance (expressive and re-creative freedom) is linked to the musical writing and is in an oscillatory relationship with it: this means that it participates in the musical writing and re-writes it according to a variability congruous with it [the measure of this congruence has purposely not been specified and is referred to as a a-communication affective capacity: activity in abstract and complex interweaving (in-abstracto complexu)]

11. In the end, the composition we present here requires an interpreting disposition by the audience, that is a no longer purely passive listening; as composers and performers do not gratify the listeners with a musical offer but they rather involve them through one musical proposal (among the many possible) that the work in its composition and performance provides. The listeners themselves are invited to talk - and not through a trite and sterile interactive external intervention - and to fully involve themselves in the re-creating congruence of the performance under way so as to arouse their receptive capacities (so that they do not limit themselves to accepting just the performing contingency of the moment) for elaborating anew the composition so as to make visible its features of potential inexhaustibility and share in the elucidation of the many interweavings (of meaning) achievable.

Notes for the Performance

I  The character signs inserted in the various sections work as an interpreting suggestion for the performer; by way of this indication the sensitivity of the performer is to oscillate so that he or she can get  involved under several aspects:

- the agogic aspect: through rhythmic and temporal metronomic fluctuations (in a specific relationship so as to be able to  take up with the other interpreters at the dotted lines; on the other hand, only the latter, together with the coronas, are the syncronous indispensable to the performance of the composition);

- the timbric aspect: by choosing the sonorities and colours best fitting the interpretation, while interweaving with the remaining interpreters (see next aspect);

-  orchestration: not all the sections offer the same re-creating [2] freedom; therefore the (final) result of the performance is also a consequence of the interpreters’ ability and their mutual understanding in addressing their contingent choices (specified in the two previous levels) towards one sole objective which, not being the same in every performance, can even be changed during performance according to the musical  indications proposed by any of the performers [3] .  This stated, it becomes clear that the metronomic indication proposed ( = 48-66) is just  but the beginning of a very free interpreting excursion which will find a credible concretization (expressive congruity) from a balanced oscillation with the written score.

II The π chord is to be performed with a prehensile articulation of the hand by means of a rapid horizontal movement in direction of the performer; such a prehension involves a free and nimble use of the whole limb: arm and forearm are to follow the movement of the hand without giving rise to any hindrance and thus enabling the hand to leave (abandon) the keyboard immediately; as a result, any possible lengthening of the sound can only be achieved using the crescendo pedal.

III “Con ampio respiro” (fourth stage): it refers to expressive musical phrases spread throughout time, talking to silences and to each single musical cell (independent in itself) so as to interiorize them both. This aspect of interpretation takes into due account the expressive action of the three previous stages: it never prescinds from them, but in that the performer listens to them as reverberations of his or her signs of communication, he or she always tries to sum them up and subsume them, so as to have them constantly changed as far as timbre is concerned in relation to the musical contingent event arising from the recreating action of the interpreters.

                                               P.F. e V.Z.

                                               (Translated by Patrizia Brighi)

[1] a as difference and not as privative element, the a adopted in this presentation and preceding the concepts of system=a-system and others, has no privative value, in the common acceptation of lack or absence. It rather has to be meant as indication of a particular place, for a particular difference, given which the systems of such domains have the properties inherent to them expressed in the most pregnant way, so that, for example, remote relational capabilities, or changes that may occur in the system as long as any of its elements changes, are brought to their excess, to such an extent that no element or stage of the system can remain unchanged, that is the same. Each element changes not only in relation to the others but also to itself. Any self-mirroring phenomenon in which the image in the mirror is the same as the mirroring image is highly improbable and, in general, no element (monad) will be able to repeat itself (to be the same). Systems of this kind have been preceded by the a for difference (with respect to any system already known). A further characteristic of these wholes is expressed by their auto-organising property, that is by the possibility that, given several elements in a-complex relation,  these collect other ones, either in a potential level (potential activity of music) or  in an actual level (if new structural and a-structural components, for example of musical kind, are congruously added to the elements of the complex web, the system places itself around them and includes them in a higher synthesis, conforming to them and highlighting their qualities until it gives way to a sort of beginning of the narration of the very process of the occurred inclusion.)

Apart from the composers and the interpreters of the piece also the so-called listeners can take part in this auto-organising process and, through their active processes, getting in touch with this complex inclusive web, they interact with it, being at the same time the agents through which the musical phenomenon manifests itself =re-creators, provided with a musical and in general language thought-activity, and therefore generating (a-generators) new abstract processes which are not fixed, as they themselves are included  in a oscillating (a-)complex, (inclusive) web of which each element is free from whatever  fixity  (compulsive repetition) of the old kind.

[2] Also the different re-creating degrees of each section are at interpreters’ descretion; before playing these differences should already be identified as a  part of the project of interpretation of the piece under study (a four-stage study).

[3] As to the rhythmic-temporal progression in general suggestions are to come from the performer of the section subject to re-creating freedom of a  lower degree.