WORK 03 / SONGS / ACTIONS

SONGS 01/12 As on-going work I annotate on my mobile phone the titles of all the songs I hear. These songs could be the ones I listen to on the radio while driving, or the ones played by a street musician or the ones my kids sing but also the ones I sing to them or the ones I spontaneously sing or whistle. If the some songs can depict particularly spontaneous moments of my life, generally speaking the resulting record of songs is like a radiography of the emotional background provided by the environments in which I live. It is a record of awareness of all the song played in the background in supermarkets and shopping malls to subconsciously stimulate consumers like me to feel at ease and buy more products. The interludes of these songs are later transcribed on a musical sheet of 22,5 by 120 centimeters. Recognizing on average 240 songs a month, it is estimated that, at the end of my project in 2040, I will have transcribed over 100.000 songs. Currently, I have recomposed the interlude of over 2.266 songs. Based on the list of the songs I hear, I copy and paste them onto a musical sheet using a composer software. With this software I am also able to replay my compositions as .MIDI files so as to test if I have composed them correctly (Fig. Screenshot of a musical notation corresponding to a month of the songs I have heard, annotated and recomposed).

SONGS 02/12 After conceiving a way to record my awaken life by photographing the object I use with my right hand, I conceived a way to track the part of my life spent asleep by keeping track of my dreams. At this point I began thinking of a third work related to an aspect of my life that was more musical and was not visual or textual like the first two works. At first I began keeping track of all the songs popping up in my head. Generally I noticed that different events in life always inspired me a song. Yet to actually annotate these songs would have distorted such a more subconscious process. As a result my brain would have turned most chaotic and filled with songs constantly popping up just as a mere caprice. After various experiments then I opted to simply keep track of the songs I hear meaning both the songs sang by another person, instrument or whatever audio reproducing technologies but also the songs I myself sing (Fig. Picture showing a detail of a stack of my musical sheets. This work was presented at the Uppsala Art Museum in 2009. For this occasion the notations were available for the public to play on an old and second hand organ. The pages were laminated and a clipboard was used to keep the musical sheet in used on the organ stand).

SONGS 03/12 From the beginning I have limited myself to keep track of and transcribe only those songs which I have heard and recognized. In this respect I do not annotate songs I have heard only a few times as these songs would be anyway too hard to recompose out of memory. Consequently I begin to annotate songs when I am myself able to reproduce their melody. These new songs may be the new hits played on the radio of all the cafes of the Italian seaside village where my mother spend the summer or the Dutch Christmas songs my kids learned going to school and keep singing back home. I then keep a comprehensive record of the songs heard both in public as well as in private spaces. Initially, the title of each song was written on a piece of paper. Later these hand written annotations were transcribed using a family piano. After a few years I began annotating the songs I hear on my mobile to then find the melody using a melodica (Fig. Picture showing me in my twenties using a family piano in my parents-in-law Swedish farm. The piano was out of tune and was only kept as decoration but I began reusing it to recompose with my right hand alone all the songs I recognized. The musical notes then were initially wrote on paper notes which are now part of my physical archive).

SONGS 04/12 Keeping track of the songs I hear, I also keep track of the songs I sing for example to my kids when they were small. In some occasions I just sing involuntary a song and this reflects a state of my subconscious. As if automatically in fact I may begin singing a song that contains certain words that reflect something I am experiencing. As an example, if it is raining and I am getting wet, I may start singing "Era una notte che pioveva", an old military song I learned from my grandfather. The songs talks about a night spent by a sentry under the rain in my native mountains during the war. On the contrary however the song I may hear from other sources like the radio, may be completely mismatching the situation. An example could be a Jingle Bell tune played by a toy in the summer. Nonetheless most of the times it is likely that overall those viewers who read through the resulting musical notations can get a feeling of the atmosphere in which I annotated the songs (Fig. Screenshot of the annotated songs. The annotations are transferred from the phone to a basic text editor so that I can daily transcribe them. The comments on the side of some songs helps me to be reminded of the situation in which they were annotated. These annotations are later used to write an account of a month worth of songs after a musical sheet is completed).

SONGS 05/12 In general I like to keep silent and usually I have been quite intolerant to noise. I generally justify this intolerance as on one hand being born in a silent highland and on the other to the fact that most my ancestors have been heavily traumatized during the First and Second World War with bombardments and heavy fighting. To begin with I preferred classic music and particularly opera which I played and memorized since I started driving at the age of eighteen. After moving to a farm in Sweden I had quite some issues with for instance my mother-in-law playing cheesy love songs. Later I grew more accustomed to pop-culture and also to noise with the many machines I had to learn to use to build my museum in my native alps. From the beginning I had rather a critical attitude towards the Culture Industry as described in Adorno's seminal essays but later I went for a rather Epictetian approach of “joining the festivity” and letting go to my contemplative mood if the environment tells me to do otherwise. In this respect my effort is that of making a great classic composition out of all the bits of pop music I chronologically collects through the years (Fig. Picture of the actual melodica I bought at a second hand Jewish shop. The melodica was used to recompose my songs but also to play songs to my kids especially during rainy afternoons. The photo belongs to my tracking of activities work).

SONGS 06/12 Between 11 and 14 years of age I studied classic flute and went as far as composing my own music and performing it with my teacher making the background arrangements. This basic training taught me then how to both read and write music and lastly recompose the songs I hear. Also throughout my childhood I assimilated many traditional songs from my maternal grandparents whose Brazil born father was an organist. From him I learned both old folk songs as well as war songs which were in fact composed by soldiers during World War I in my native highland in the alps. To begin with I made it a point to transmit these songs to my first child in Sweden but later I lost this heritage and assimilated more of the traditional songs of Sweden itself. I also annotated all the songs I heard during my time spent living in the United States and China. More specifically in Shnghai Fuxin Park I often joined karaoke bands of elder Chinese. Lastly I moved to the Netherlands where I was not motivated to learn the language but inevitably learned all the children songs from my youngest kids (Fig. Screenshot a street musician in the Italian city of Bassano. In this case the pianist is placed on a Palladian bridge and is playing a melody of a song which I annotate. Jacek Smolicki, my former student is in the background also recording the street musician mimicking my work and my overall concept).

SONGS 07/12 In year 2000 I was an art student in Vancouver and began a series of performances which also involved signing. In one of these Canadian performances I experimented with the last act of Mozart's Don Giovanni by filming myself singing the script of one of the characters and then singing the script of the other character, while projecting and interacting with the previous characters. Later on I partially kept up my singing. In more traditional settings like a small Swedish church in the near of my parents-in-law farm I used to perform Schubert's Ave Maria during funerals or Puccini's Nessun Dorma during weddings. Generally I was asked to sing Di Capua's O Sole mio during midsummer celebrations. While probably not fitted to the Scandinavian environment, these performances were relevant to at least keep up live music in a village where the last musician got too old to perform and no young people was willing to step in. Also while living in Sweden my American employer and opera fan and art critic Ronald Jones got quite obsessed about listening to me singing Don Giovanni under the distorting effect of helium gas. In later years I almost completely ceased singing publicly only however singing to my kids (Fig. Screenshot of 18 millimeters films showing my early performances with opera singing).

SONGS 07/12 While more interested in folk songs and less in pop songs and with an overall initial interest in classic music, this work becomes somewhat a great experimental composition of all the lyrical heritage of an individual. It also comes to represent the struggle of an individual to keep up a certain heritage and to expand it with new folk songs. Not only this individual is hit by an industry imposing its cultural content based on commercial but also political purposes. In this respect not only it is hard for folk like me to even transmit a musical heritage but also to enrich it with new content. While I am not an active listener of music, every time I stumble open a folk song I makes great value of it and integrates it in my personal heritage. For example while watching the war movie “1917” I got to know the “Wayfairing stranger” lyric and learned it by heart. Also reading an old novel could come across a son which I would later try to replay and keep as a precious finding (Fig. Screenshot of Staffan Bjorklund, a professional organist during an event organized by the Uppsala art museum in 2009. The latter also provided the arrangements to all the songs annotated in my musical sheets. Later in 2016 I also installed a small organ in my project show-room of my barn in the alps. Here visitors were able to access my works as well as replay the compositions).

SONGS 09/12 While the annotating of the songs I hear and recognize can be rather smooth, at times I do not have access to my smartphones to annotate them. While traveling by car for example I play the radio. I am curious to hear the kind of songs that are more characteristic to a particular country I am crossing. Driving through Germany I can hear a much broader and various repertoire that the one offered by Dutch radio stations. The latter might in fact use an algorithm to select from a limited amount of songs. While driving then I can only annotate the songs creating a complex sequence of mental images to represent chronologically the title of each song. Strictly avoiding the use of my phone while driving I might also write the songs on a piece of paper I have on my wheel. In this event I keep my eyes on the road and scribble with a pencil on the paper the title of the songs I hear. I later try to decipher and digitize what I have scribbled. All these paper annotated songs are later stored in my mountain archive (Fig. Screenshot of a video made by my girlfriend while I drive and annotate the songs I hear on the radio without loosing sight of the road. In some occasions I also play CDs I have made with my favourite songs. Knowing the playlist by heart, I only have to write them on my phone after driving. Such videos illustrate the kind of emotions that are created around the listening of songs).

SONGS 10/12 To some extent also this work of annotating the songs one hears marks the end of songs. By conducting this work I have in fact noticed how songs in the digital paradigm have transformed into mere beats and loops without any lyrical evolution. Growing up with singers such as Lucio Battisti and Francesco De Gregori and learning their songs by heart, I have noticed particularly how the lyrical tradition in my native Italy has degenerated to songs that cannot be easily memorized and consists of tunes copied and pasted using digital technology. In this respect my work is nostalgic of the pre-digital era, nostalgic of the analogue time in which folk songwriters used a guitar, their voice and their experience to story-tell their emotions without so much pretension. The work is then an ultimate nostalgic attempt to preserve a certain lost heritage. Nonetheless the shortness with which the lyrics are recomposed in the resulting musical notations echoes somewhat the repetitive and redundant songs of a bad quality musical toy initiating today new human offspring (Fig. Screenshot of my phone replaying some nostalgic cartoon songs from my youth to my children. I mostly sings these songs myself and only at times play the actual theme songs to them. Growing up in the 1980s, I was predominantly exposed to Japanese cartoons but the Italian theme songs were far more impacting to my generation).

SONGS 11/12 Following are the technical parameters I use to compose the songs. I use a light but comprehensive program for composers called Noteworthy. After recomposing a song using a melodica, the song is written on the program and then tested using the inbuilt midi synthesizer. The programs indicates me the percentage of a staff I have composed. When the percentage reaches 15% I use the inbuilt Primo PDF virtual console to print the 225 by 1200 millimeters musical sheet. The resulting .pdf file results in two pages. While saving the first one I copy the notations of the second to start a new compositions corresponding to a new month productions of all the songs I have heard. (Fig. Screenshot of the software I use everyday to recompose the songs heard. Notice the list of songs kept open on a Notepad file below the software window and the actual window on the very top in which I search whether the song I am about to input in a chronological sequence has been previously composed. In this case I am inputting "Anna dai capelli rossi", an Italian song of a Japanese cartoon based on the Canadian novel "Anne of Green Gables". As the song was sang and played several times to my small daughter as it can be seen in the written list, I annotate only the beginning of the title "Anna dai". All the written titles are deleted once the composition is pasted in the chronological sequence).

SONGS 12/12 Generally the resulting composition works well as a background to the performing of other parts of the project such as the reciting of my dreams and the reading of the casualties found on the news but it also well accompanies visual works such as the films of public places and generally the psychedelic atmosphere created within the exhibition space as if in fact it resembles the inside of my very brain. In this work I am partially some sort of a DJ selecting my life playlist but also partially more a human who is forced to be aware of a more and more algorithmically orchestrated playlist broadcast on the humans of my time. The music of the organ then is just a way of uplifting the musical redundancy of the digital age into a more profound reorchestration which the very medium of the organ amplifies (Fig. Rendering of the location of the organ in a cathedral-like building where to present the entire project. Notice the six boxes on top of the organ to store all the musical sheets. While 120 cm long they can be folded in four parts getting a bit bigger than an A4 format. In this respect each box contains 72 musical sheets corresponding to 6 years of song tracking. Interestingly these boxes could be used to eventually confuse the order with which the actual sheets are places. The sheets themselves may be torn over time).