Album: Stefano Scodanibbio: Reinventions
Artists: Stefano Scodanibbio and Quartetto Prometeo: Giulio Rovighi (violin), Aldo Campagnari (violin), Massimo Piva (violin), Francesco Dillon (violoncello)
?Have you ever heard an overtone? The more you hear them, the more you hear them! They are a wonder of natural physics and the foundation of our musical world.?
Overtones, Harmonics, and Extending the Capacity to Hear
Italian composer, teacher, and contrabass maestro Stefano Scodanibbio passed away last year in Mexico at the age of 55. In 2011 he completed this recording, comprising his string quartet arrangements of three counterpoint pieces from Bach’s Art of the Fugue as well as?perhaps incongruously, perhaps not?some Spanish guitar music and even a compelling interpretation of ?Besame Mucho.?
In the last three decades Scodanibbio made a name for himself by extending the boundaries of the contrabass (by means of experimental techniques, improvisation, and a renowned dexterity) and, in addition to his own prolific composing output, by attracting the attention of a number of composers who created works for him to perform. He also collaborated with notable musicians, poets, artists, playwrights, and even philosophers.
Scodanibbio’s sound was ahead of its time not only because of its pioneering aesthetic but also due to the musical territory he chose to revisit and re-examine with the aid of new interpretive tools. The most salient of these are his methods of generating harmonics.
To grossly oversimplify, harmonics are the different resonances caused by sound waves that travel both up and down vibrating strings of a stringed instrument (or up and down the air columns of wind instruments) and away from the instrument, and the audible interactions (called overtones) of these sound waves.
I recently discovered that harmonics is not always an exact science, and that what makes the banjo, for example, so brightly dissonant is the fact that its overtones are highly audible; although this contributes to the banjo’s unique sound, It’s for this reason that even slight anomalies in the instrument’s structure can make it really grate on the ear.
For the present purposes, harmonics have lent Reinventions an incredible depth, creating the kind of music that frames each moment as if it were a historical event, music that makes you think You’re in your own movie and that the story has just granted you that degree of nobility that redeems the flubs of the past.
The tracks move from familiar to unfamiliar ground, both in terms of the repertoire and of its interpretation, making it a wonderfully painless introduction for those who may previously have found avant garde music unpalatable.
Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.