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Organum II

for alto flute and recordings

Duration: 10 min.
Instrumentation: Alto flute, pre-recorded track (stereo)
Commission: Festival Nuovi Spazi Musicali, Castello di Rivoli art museum, Torino
Publisher: Rai Com

World Premiere: 9 Dec. 2005
Rivoli (TO), Art Museum
Michele Marasco, alto flute

The earliest form of polyphony was known in Europe at the end of the XII century under the name of Organum. Plainchant melodies sung in octaves, fifths and fourths, gave origin to what decades later would become the complex counterpoint technique. The choice of such intervals is probably due to the natural harmonic resonances that monks heard when singing in large cloisters and churches.

I reversed this perspective and imagined a plainchant (an Ambrosian chant usually sung at Christmas) that gradually emerges from the resonances it had generated,
as if the walls, the ceilings and the room itself wanted to tell their story, revealing some memories of the sound they have been exposed to, forcing the soloist to respond to them, and engage a dialogue that eventually gives light to an ancient melody, then gradually fades away in sweet but austere harmonies.



Una delle prime forme di polifonia conosciute in Europa prese il nome di Organum. Alla fine del XII secolo, le melodie gregoriane venivano talvolta cantate sovrapponendo consonanze di quinta, quarta e ottava, dando così origine alla tecnica del contrappunto, che nei secoli raggiungerà forme complesse di sviluppo. La scelta delle consonanze perfette è dovuta probabilmente alla risonanza armonica naturale che i monaci e i chierici udivano cantando nei grandi spazi delle cattedrali e delle chiese.

Scrivendo
Organum II ho capovolto questa prospettiva e ho immaginato una monodia (O magnum misterium, cantato a Natale nel rito ambrosiano) che emerge gradualmente dalle risonanze che essa stessa ha generato, come se le pareti, i soffitti e gli spazi una volta inondati di suono, volessero raccontare la loro storia, rivelare i ricordi e le memorie, costringendo il solista a rispondere e ingaggiare un dialogo, in cui l’antica melodia si accompagna a dolci e austere armonie.

© Francesco Antonioni

1 October 2019
Roma, Basilica di San Marco evangelista
Incontri di musica sacra e contemporanea
Luca Bellini, alto flute

21 September 2016
Firenze, Museo del Novecento.
Firenze Suona Contemporanea
Michele Marasco, alto flute

02 October 2015
Forlì (IT). Félix Guattari Theater.
Festival Crisalide.
Manuel Zurria, alto flute
[Watch the video of the performance]

17 January 2008
SantaFe (NM), Charlotte Jackson Project Space
Margaret Lancaster, alto flute

11 June 2007 [US P]
New York, Cornelia street cafe
Margaret Lancaster, alto flute

9 Dec. 2005
Rivoli (TO), Art Museum
Michele Marasco, alto flute

«In “Organum II” by the Italian composer Francesco Antonioni, Ms. Lancaster was accompanied by the long, pure tones of a sinusoid generator, which rang like rubbed goblets. As flute and accompaniment gently drifted in and out of sync, the piece recalled Brian Eno’s ambient-music recordings. Later, when Ms. Lancaster’s notes coalesced into melodies and the supporting tones into chords, the music more closely resembled the blissful electronica heard on the syndicated radio show “Hearts of Space"».
Steve Smith, The New York Times 13 June 2007
[Read the New York Times article]

«…serenely evocative and severely sensual»
Craig Smith, Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo
[Read the Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo article]