per un percussionista

The musical vision of Paolo Aralla (b. 1960, Lecce) may seem as difficult to grasp as is his total vision of the world, given that Aralla refuses to surrogate with art what is impossible in reality. Above all in the pieces for large groups – which in terms of complexity may be compared to the world, while the pieces for camera could be analogous to only portions of the world – he refuses to put himself in the place of the divine creator that sees all ahead of time and in order. From Do- natoni, his principal teacher, Aralla borrows only one trait, the decision to gather as he goes from the material itself the suggestions for its development, instead of directing it according to the design of a superior will or even less according to a pre-established harmony. Since pre-established harmony does not exist in the world and man anyway does not perceive it, the composer does not profit from his position by simulating it in his work. Constructing the form from below im- pedes all false monumentality, every asserted but unreal order, because everything finds justification, if it does, in the detail. Thus for example in Die gestundete Zeit (1994) for two pianos, two percussionists, tape and live electronics, Studio sul blu (1997) for percussions, orchestra and electronics, Maree (1999) for 23 play- ers, Architektur der Ebene II (2002) for piano and 13 instruments, which reach a massive sonority, composite, the breadth is not obtained by determination and specification of an abstract initial idea, but from the sum of many concrete strata. The phrasing is constituted by the addition of sketched-in lines and figures, not too finely finished, the sounds and aggregates are added, accumulated, more than beautifully strung together. This corresponds to the contemporary conception of physical reality, composed also of continuum and chaos as well as of clear forms, distinct and ordered. In fact, symmetrically, as the whole grows from below by accumulation, thus it does not decline closing in an equilibrated descending curve, but rather it falls to pieces. The loss of pre-established formal harmony is symptomatic of a tragic sense of history. Of the history of music, that is. A form constructed of the once assertive means is no longer credible: neither I nor society are reliable foundations for it. But the fact that this awareness is obvious today does not make it painless. The refusal to hypostatize an unreal order is typical of those who are sensitive to order: precisely because there is the desire for its reality, mystification is not tolerated. Giving up the establishment of fictitious balances, Aralla continues to search for those perceptible and intelligible relations: “sense is relation” (Lombardi Vallauri 2004, 4) is still true for him. Above all coherence is given to the whole by a specific and selective harmonic conduct that articulates and orients the atonal chromatic total, so that there are long cohesive arcs, uniform zones of medium and short length and even local foreign notes. A further unifying factor is the instrumental writing and the figural imagination is largely based on its concrete foundation. Aralla complies even too readily with the principle of instrumentalism, which gives a guarantee of craft, and of realism, but not of originality, neither in respect to tradition nor the contemporary academy. Most of all the complete instrumen- tal groups too facilely evoke traditional sound, even if the writing is in all other senses atonal. It is difficult to subtract oneself from this effect: the orchestra is the most traditionally connoted instrument, because it sums all the connota- tions of the single instruments, families, and relations among families. Aralla is more accomplished at transcending the typical sound of the usual practice when he does not feel constrained to write so that the instrumentalists do what they already do well. In Die gestundete Zeit the timbre is not at all conventional and, especially, not assertive: the pianos, elaborated and deformed electronically, are absolutely denuded of their ‘grand’ piano connotation. Here, and in Studio sul blu, Maree, Impromptu VI (2006) for wind instruments and live electronics, those that function best are the moments of accumulation, of mass: thanks to electronics, noise (the percussions), and an agglomerating phrasing. Or to the contrary the moments of subtraction, rarefaction, in which instrumental behaviour becomes more conative and is based less on the habits and peculiarities of the instruments, which, inasmuch as typical, consolidated, sound improperly affirmative on both the expressive and ideological planes. In general Aralla gains from operating with a conative approach where what becomes evident is the challenge of intelligence in respect to the possibilities and impossibilities of composition (stylistic and deontologic), not the final stage of a presumably perfect creative success. With an interlocutory attitude: not defini- tive or abusive, rather a dialogue. Instead of extreme positions Aralla prefers to place himself on difficult brinks that call for mediation and balancing opposing forces, both – if isolated – poor and mistaken. In Varianti for solo violin (1991), for example, he brings back the traditional category of the melody, but with all its Form, figure, and the experience of time in seven southern composers 105 contemporary precariousness. In general he expresses all the precariousness of the traditional categories – melody, harmony, etc. – trying anyway to give them value. The credibility of the restoration is also in the measure to which it does not pass itself off as well done, in the disenchantment. The reference to traditional categories is not neoclassicism, because it is not based on any misplaced faith in their lasting validity. The position of those who use the extended melody and the grand orchestral gesture etc. without reserve, thus expressing their nostal- gia, is today unsustainable for reasons that are no less psycho-anthropological than musically historic-stylistic. Aralla shares nostalgia, but also demonstrates that one cannot let oneself go to it. That which is unsustainable is not nostalgia – because it’s universal: who does not love traditional music? – but bowing to its sad instigations. In Varianti the melody is not directly re-constituted but brought as a melody that continually passes in a timbric-articulative process, and vice-versa. In general Aralla’s musical gesture is characterized by a non-assertiveness, by figu- ral, phraseological, and formal discretion. There is never a stentorian statement, super-convinced, emphatic exaltation of any object, but at a certain point always an interruption, a diversion (avoiding total fragmentation). Perfectly conative and dialogue-like is the field of live electronics, where the piece – in relation to the instrument, the interpreter, the place, the time – is in continual adjustment hic et nunc. In Káros (2004) for flute and electronics, for example, the electronics furnish from phrase to phrase a live and dialectic ambient for the flute. It amplifies sound in the spatial sense of the term, rendering it vast, and mobilizes the instrument, which for its own part on the phraseological plane moves in a discrete exploration, attentive in turn to the ambient (which it itself contributes in creating). At every expectoration contextualized by the electronics, the flute takes time to breathe, a pause to understand fully the contextualization itself. The flute, spiritual instru- ment par excellence, thus at the same time makes itself more physical because it occupies the space, crosses it in traversing the listener. Fatally this dialogue, at the intersection between the different experiential categories of time, sound and space, brings Aralla to an encounter with dance. In Silence/Text (2005), dancers interact with microphone and produce sounds that electronics elaborate in real time. Thus, using the microphone as a medium, music is dance, dance is music. And in particular, while it usually exceeds in abstractness, electronic music becomes absolutely corporeal. [Stefano Lombardi Vallauri]


solosta e orchestra




per percussione, elettronica e orchestra


24' circa


partitura, parti, e file audio


pEdizione Ricordi




Maurizio Ben Omar, Gunther Neuhold, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna