MUSIC FROM THE SKY
In order to define the space and to direct the
attention towards the sky, four silver-coloured baloons were placed at
the respective comers of the square and were anchored at a hight of 30
metres from the ground with the help of thin ropes. The ballons, with
diametre of 6 metres each, were filled with approximately 400 m3 of
helium. Four loudspeakers were hidden behind the four ballons
respectively. The literal, and not the allusive, aspect of the title
required a resonant illustration of:
1) direct celestial provenance,
2) human musical experience.
As reported by Prof Gavazzi of the Laboratory for
Cosmical Physics through the CNR of Milan, cosmic resonant waves do
not arrive to us. Instead we receive electromagnetic, radio, or light
waves form everywhere. To catch radio waves with the help of a
radiotelescope and then to convert them into 'musical' language would
not be very appropriate: - since the intensity of the signal almost
does not vary its modulation, there would be a contituous noise
present. On the other hand, a photographic image obtained by telescope
contains a lot more information: each one of its points have two
spacial co-ordinates, a determined brightness, and a respective
chromatic value. the group for Mathematic Calculation at the CNUCE
(Institute of the National Research Council) of Pisa - Pietro Grossi,
Luciano Azzarelli and Massimo Chimenti, have determined the parametres
for the interpretation of colour slides of the nebulous 'Lyra and
Orion' and of the 'Andromeda' Gallaxy.
The choice of the acoustic parametre derived from the resonant capacity
of the TA V-2 computer (an audio-terminal, used in the musicology
section at that time).
The horizontal and vertical interpretation of each slide was being
transformed into numerical values, which were then 'translated' into
sounds by the computer, trying as much as possible to avoid the choices
which based themselves on personal criteria.
In this way five minutes of sound were produced for
each 'sonorous celestial subject'. .
Music has always something to do with human fellings and the
associations that it provokes are deliberate and
more or less manipulated by the composer. In this case,
however, what was obtained was a transcription, nervetheless that it
was arbitary. For this very reason it was considered not as music but
as a 'celestial' resonant material, which was to be heared 'from the
The concert in Milan was realized on the evening of
May 2nd, 1979. The first part contained the material described above.
For the second part a programme of human musical poetics was being
chosen, together with the RAI musicologist G. Motta.
1. The "Epitaph of Sicilo (ancient Greece).
2. "Deus Creator Omnium" by St. Ambrose (386 AD).
3. “Ja Nus Hons Pris" by Richard I, Lionheart (1100).
4. "Possente Spirito" from ORFEO by Monteverdi.
5. "Largo" from 'Concerto in Re-Maggiore' for flute and
strings Op. 10 No.3 by Antonio Vivaldi.
6. "Preludes" from TRISTAN UND ISOLDE by Richard
7. "Dances Sacrees et Profanes" by Claude Debussy.
'Music from the Sky - II' was realized on October
1979, at the Mills College in Ockland, San Francisco. This time the
previously recorded material was executed with
the help of a particular installation: - a ballon filled with
warm air and its pilot were anchored with the help of
ropes at an approximate height of 40 metres. A screen of
semitransparent silk was fixed horizontally by four ropes,
halfway between the gondola and the spectators. Images of
the galaxies were projected consecutively on this screen
while the music was literally coming from 'the sky~ since
the gondola beared a big loudspeaker. What was obtained,
was an enlargement of the sky which was mixed with and
became part of the real stars.
The cellist Emy Radner connected by cable with the gondola, and
respectively with the loudspeaker, was realizing
a human 'dialogue' improvising with the previously registered sonorous
The entire concept was directly transmitted by the KPFA radio of
Berkeley, San Franciscoand presentet by Charles Amirkhanian.
'Music from the Sky - Ill' was produced at the
Irvin University, near Los Angeles, on October 24th, 1979. It was very
similar to the Ockland concert but this time the musical interpretation
was provided by young rock musicians.