Pierluigi Billone
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for Percussion
Commissioned by Ensemble Nikel


Pierluigi Billone

Mani. Δίκη can be considered as a sort of celebration of the sound world of metal, and particularly of the richness and quality of its sonic environments: the manipulation of metal-to-metal contact, the unique shape of the instruments that influence the manipulation, and the relative position of the instruments that creates an individual space for the performer’s body.

It deals therefore with an explorative and creative journey of sound, in connection with the material thanks to the living and organic contact between the instruments. (Most of these instruments do not belong to European cultural or religious traditions, whereby their original sound is never used, and this choice needs no explanation…)

The instrumental set creates a unique large metal instrument. It was conceived and is used as a body consisting of different parts that are nonetheless connected and interdependent. Each individual object is featured at a particular moment as the centre of manipulation and the “rhythmical heart” of the body-instrument; first the China Opera Gong, then the Thai Gong, the Plate Bells, and finally the Tibetan Sounding Bowls. Some moments, due to their sound and rhythmic identities, their methods of manipulation, or their extreme sonic and physical states, mark the “journey of the sound” and create complementary circumstances:

  • The ”inaudible breath” of the China Opera Gong, almost without any activity
  • The “deafening breath” of the Thai Gong, constant and obsessive
  • The “heart impulse” of the Plate Bells, extended by the inherent gesture
  • The “modulated impulse” of the Sounding Bowls, creating a continuum

The extreme concentration and reduction of the actions (in some moments expressed by a kind of abstract writing in sound and rhythm, consisting of circles and lines) makes the minute differences audible and draws attention to the “musical voice” of metal, which western culture has largely ignored and rarely recognized as sound.