The variety of stimuli and information on offer in today’s world is immense. Ideas are being generated at high speed and circulate dynamically. We experience intense conflicts, contradictions and paradoxes. Expression of the individual is greatly facilitated and encouraged, while at the same time we unite via networking, centralisation of power and the collective subconscious that these processes create. While we observe magnificent technological developments stretching the planet’s tolerances, barriers disappear and civilisations, traditions and styles amalgamate…

The general theme of my portfolio is relationships: between the partial and the whole, between behaviours and environments, among human beings and forms of art. The pieces and performances have been a study on unity and transformation, as well as on fusion and dialectic.

We can see beauty as a fully potent organic unit, like nature. In aesthetic terms the totality retains the primacy over the individual components and differences are eroded into complementarities. This idea can be expressed as an all-embracing concept of counterpoint.

“…an artistic economy bringing free, autonomous shapes together into one single thing through the very power of artistic organisation”

Adorno (1978), The Function of Counterpoint in New Music

I have been incorporating the multiplicity of elements, with which I was concerned, as independent streams interacting with each other and with the whole they constitute. All sonic parameters take part in this game, as well as the significations they carry in their development.

As we hear a sound we tend to automatically make judgements about its source, cause, movement, position and surroundings, introducing it into sonic pictures or landscapes, mental structures that include real or imagined parallels with other senses and related knowledge. By controlling sonic characteristics I created abstract musical relationships with or within sounds based on those projected associations. I composed signified meaning in ‘melodies’ of sonic landscapes within the musical discourse and in counterpoint with everything else. The sounds might work as linked symbols within aural metaphors. When the sonic images become too dense to follow or do not have clear connections we get a sequence of tension related meta-images. The listeners are expected to surrender and let the experience of the sound meander through the mind. They are welcome to play with free associations, translating the perceived patterns into internal ones.

During this process, concert-seating arrangement becomes a crucial factor. Audiences that are allowed to comfortably adjust and drift in the sonic world, not being distracted by the world of the body, will be able to resonate easier with the music and the uncompromised spirit of these works. I feel that less formal set-ups, which use perhaps mattresses or comfortable chairs and non-shoebox seating options, encourage the process of active listening and are more conducive to a deep appreciation of such complex and demanding sonic art.

The style of the work is inventive, humorous and argumentative, with intense peaks and troughs of tension oscillating between the real and the imaginary. The pieces are almost like colourful sonic fairytales or adventures, with natural energy trajectories, evolutionary properties, rhythms of language and elements of culture. The aim is to generate pleasure from the collision between ambiguous entities and the multithread vectors that weave through them. The ideas behind each piece were intuitively developed through personal observation and analysis or were imposed by a particular situation. In most cases they were a combination of interests in an abstract concept, types of sound, an environment or a set of techniques. The whole process can be seen as an effort to develop a personal system of sonic architecture that would subsequently apply to any kind of music, across genres and techniques. In this sense, this body of work is investigative by nature, the means and at the same time the product of research through a broad set of compositional and sonic concerns.


About stelios giannoulakis

composition, sound design, engineering, improvisation
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