“I developed a basic structure to organise the sonic space which could also be applied to the visual space, to determine a common structural principle. i found this principle in plain geometrical figures, containing different structural paths, and this allowed me to extract from them numerical data to organise the sonic and visual parameters.”
Italian composer Enore Zaffiri explored the formal constraints of geometric structure in composition, allowing simple and complex patterns to map out various parameters (pitch, intensity, speed) for his modified electronic analog instruments.
The score above is for his 1968 work, “Music Per Un Anno”. The time-based work begins with a tone of 1968hz and evolves over a finely mapped course for one year.
From Die Schachetel:
The seminal project “Musica Per Un Anno” (Music For One Year) was composed and recorded in 1968. based on a cycle of 360 days, it was conceived as a possible sound track for ambience: the sound events change imperceptibly but continuously, in relation to months, days, hours and minutes. every instant of time has its unique music, which merges with the light and the air of the ambient.
Zaffiri has long been a proponent of the teaching of electronic music composition, and co-founded Studio di Musica Elettronica di Torino, an institute for young composers, in 1970.
I enjoyed these remarks from a 1973 paper on the teaching of electronic instruments within the conservatory:
- The first part of the course should be intensive and include experiments on the physical nature of sound (using basic sources such as sinusoidal, triangular, saw-toothed and squares waves, but excluding complex sound treatments that are not controllable), and experiments using different methods of organising sound (seriality, geometric graphics, etc.).
- In the second part of the course, a practicum in composition using historical techniques (electronic plus concrete sounds; combinations of sounds using traditional acoustic instruments, voice, chorus, etc.) would be required, perhaps in relation to analysing significant historical works.
- In the third phase the ‘composition’ would be freely chosen by the student. The instructor should be open and receptive to all proposals, without imposing any aesthetic caveats, so as to allow students every opportunity to use and develop familiarity with the technological means at his or her disposal. The instructor will suggest, based on the student’s individual interests and abilities, which technical means to adopt (synthesizer or computer, live performance or recorded music.)
- At this stage, it is important not to lose sight of the means for which the work is intended: the ‘piece’ should not be considered as end in itself. The final communication channels, at least theoretically, should be kept in mind (concert, radio, television, theatre, film, advertisements, etc.). No one should assume that a school like the conservatory only turns out musical artists or performers. Its graduates are highly skilled specialists with extensive training in their discipline
whose particularised skills, abilities and preparation will determine their professional choices. The training provided by the conservatory curriculum will open job possibilities for teachers of electronic music, sound technicians, composers who specialise in sound tracks for films, documentaries and advertising, musicians who specialise in music for the stage, and – why not? – musicians in
the most traditional sense. From this perspective, the course in electronic music could collaborate with fine arts academies, schools of dramatic arts, dance schools, centres for independent film studies, etc.
- Classes on recording techniques should be included in the curriculum. Attendance in this class should be mandatory for those who seek to become sound technicians for radio or broadcasting companies or the musical recording industry.
In conclusion, I would like to demystify the title “Study of Electronic Music”
(which is also often referred to as the “Study of Phonology”). Many critics consider this place to be the ‘ivory tower’ of specialist or white-collar technicians. If the goal of the study of electronic musical is to utilise technology for musical purposes, it is absurd to camouflage it in a scientific laboratory.