n(Amarilli – 1) is part of the artistic research project Powers of Divergence, generating music performances that creatively diverge from conventional readings of the graphematic codification of musical scores.
Powers of Divergence starts from the unbridgeable gap between the clarity of the semiotic codification of notation and the irreducible materiality of sound and gesture. It consists in a series of performances, each of which takes as departure point a given piece of notated music from the Western tradition (the "primary work"). An innovative possibility of relation to the musical past is constituted: instead of "recreation", "reproduction", or "reconstruction", performance is considered as a way to reflect, through practice, on the commonsensical limits of the interpretational approach to scores, in order to move beyond them.
The "primary work"functions as the generator of affects, of vectorial forces that impinge upon the here-and-now of the performer, and not so much as something to be literally mirrored in performance.
The sonic and gestural outcome is therefore neither the objective enactment of the internal relations expressed by the score, nor the result of the subjective self-expression of the performer. Rather, it issues as a third state, one of suspension and non-representation, where performer and work are mobilised towards each other.
Performances do not try to approach through internal relations the unity of the sound expressed by the scores, but they constitute musical simulacra (in the Deleuzian sense as formulated in Logic of Sense) that sever the link with such original, through the materiality of sound and of performative gesture. Performance becomes radical departure from the scores taken as starting point. Sounds and gestures are trying to maintain a link with the "original" scores, but a link that is built upon sensation, affect, a form of encounter that exceeds both the (supposed) objectivity of the sign and the (supposedly existent) subjectivity of the performer. What I am after is, as for painter Francis Bacon, a "resemblance through non resembling means": resemblance as product and not as producer.
This implies also a work on the methods of performance: a research on how to elude representation and the wielder of the sign (meant, as Saussure explains, as solely mental) through an insistence on materiality, and on its irreducibility, excess and ambiguity. For this reason, my project involves a reflection on notation and on modes of inscription that happen directly in the body and in sound.
In particular, n(Amarilli – 1) addresses as primary work the song Amarilli mia bella by Giulio Caccini (1602). The starting point for its sonic and gestural re-enactment is the extremely forceful rhetorical structure devised by Caccini. Through the use of very simple relations created within the proto-tonal structure of the melody and harmony, Caccini delineates a scenario of extreme physicality, sexuality and violence. This powerful potential, usually blunted by interpretative and executive approaches, is brought to the fore in my practice through sounds and gestures different from those encompassed by the score and by its surrouding performance tradition.
The song has been divided into six parts, or vectors, each of which portraying a different relation between the two characters in the song: the singing voice (lover) and Amarilli (beloved). The melodic gesture underlying each vector is sketched in the graph, where the two coloured lines stand for the two extremes in the melodic range: the red line is the body singing voice (G note), the blue line the body of Amarilli (D note).
Each sketch is followed by the corresponding lines in the lyrics of the song, and by its "interpretational" rendition. After that, a verbal account of the rhetorical structure is delineated, loosely inspired by McClary's essay "Towards a history of harmonic tonality" (2007).
This exposition presents two possible sonic re-enactments of the primary work, but most importantly it offers a way of relating to the song that differs radically from interpretation. The material here displayed is open for potentially infinite re-enactments, in sonic performance, but also in any other form of performance and material inscription.