Mario Bertoncini-Aeolian Harps and other Useless Things- Published by Die Schachtel, translated by Keri Neff



This was the first book  and most difficult book I have translated. I had the pleasure of and working directly with Mr. Bertoncini and have since had the even greater pleasure of meeting him and seeing him live in concert. It was a labor of love and linguistic frustration! It is very intellectual, slightly academic, biting, pedantic, humorous and playful yet rich with cultural references which led me to study Greek literature, boat diagrams and other ‘useless things’.

The  196-page book, in English and Italian and rich with photos, is a rather profound dissertation not only on the Aeolian harps, their generation and meaning, but also on experimental sound and music in general. Written by the composer in the form of a Platonic dialogue (between an old and bitter master and his young enthusiastic pupil), the book conveys not only a wealth of information on its subject matter, but also renders perfectly the voice full of wit of one of the most personal and uncompromising composers of the present times.

The Wire review (December 2007) made me laugh! The reviewer asked whether it may have been “snappier” in Italian. NO, It wasn’t!

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Here is some info on Bertoncini culled directly from the Die Schachtel site:

One of the most adventurous composers and performers of the Italian avant garde scene, member of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, great performer of the music of John Cage, Bertoncini started in the early ‘70s designing spectacular and visually fascinating “sound sculptures”, based on the aeolian sound principle.
Amongst his more spectacular installations: Vele, a massive aeolian harp (more than 7 metres high); Venti (winds), for 20 aeolian sound generators and 40 performers; and Chanson pour Instruments à Vent, an “assemblage” for aeolian harps, aeolian gongs, and one performer.
His self-built harps and gongs are excited by blows of compressed air, or by the composer’s own breath, and the resulting sound is amplified through contact microphones. If at superficial level they may sound like electronic music (long drones and swooshes of otherwordly sounds), at a close listening they reveal the intensity of a the pure and “mercurial” sound of air, far removed from any artificial or measurable principle. The CD presents the complete selection of his compositions for aeolian objects, from 1973 to more recent days.

~ by yesmissolga on June 14, 2012.

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