Pierluigi Billone
home  contact  


Yaron Deutsch's Sgorgo Interpretation, Some Relevant Topics.

Pierluigi Billone

In the field of the written contemporary music - at least till now – the Electric Guitar is played generally by flexible Classical guitar performers, who cannot but use and think the instrument simply like a “classical guitar with an electric plug” (nowadays extended to the endless galaxy of the digital possibilities). That is to say, they approach this electrified sound as if it were a simple special colour, an extension of the classical guitar sound culture. Yaron Deutsch, on the contrary, belongs to the generation of performers whose education (and sound culture) has been associated from the beginning with the medium of the Electric guitar. This different starting point is essential.

Y. Deutsch is completely aware that “the sound” he can work with, depends on a connected “Sound-system”.

  • Hands (capacity, knowledge, sensitivity, flexibility)
  • Quality and skill of the contact with the strings
  • Properties and connected sensitivity of the whole electric system
  • Properties of the (so called...) sound effects
  • Quality and kind of connection with the electric/electronic devices
  • Mutual correspondence of the properties of the guitar with the system
  • Harmonisation with the acoustic properties of the performance space, and so on.
Properly, Y. Deutsch works with this instrument.
Starting to work on the Sgorgo solos, his constant dedication to experiment and build “a right sound” must be understood according to these considerations (and probably also in the typical modern and not-classical sense of “Sound”, as an individual musical identity).

The interpretation work on Sgorgo by Y. Deutsch has developed on some basic points, which can be resumed here only synthetically, of course.

  • The slow and aware construction of the properties of the Sound-system, oriented by the increasing familiarity with the musical text.
  • A constant and extreme skilful flexibility by the invention and discovery of possible, more successful manipulation techniques, in order to bring each action to a clear energetic and therefore formal evidence.
  • The outlined and powerful clearness and the aware focus on the musical properties, both technical and formal, of each single event.
  • An analytical/intuitive awareness of the rhythmical levels of the work, where each event sets itself acting at the same time on the deep, medium and local rhythmical level.
  • This way making audible and evident the complex not-linear rhythmical conception of each work in itself, and in the connected triptych.
  • The constant and definitive balance, of the degree of awareness reached on all these levels.

Here a few examples of the result of this work.

Sgorgo Y

The introduction of the Pitch Shifter program in the electronic setting, changes the size of the basic sound (the basic sound becomes a kind of “compact multiphonic” consisting of a fundamental coupled with two additional sounds tuned +/-13 cents – like in some typical Luigi Nono’s electronic vocal treatments , for instance). The internal richness and size of the basic sound (and the related relationships) acquires an evidence and a depth, which were impossible to imagine without it.

Sgorgo Y (N, oO) – Ritual Suspensions

In some moments of the work, the performer stops being in touch with the instrument, consequently the electric system produces a typical basic background noise due to the electric connection. These moments have an evident formal rule in the course of the work, as “stations” of a circular path enlightening periodically the not human side of the sound source: the electric system. The performer has extended the length of these moments and ritualized them with an appropriate posture, a kind of a careful and motionless ritualized suspension (implicit, but not prescribed, in the original text).


Sgorgo Y Page 1 System III

Exchange of the rule of the hands, in order to reach a more powerful articulation.


Sgorgo Y Page 6 System I, II

In order to reach a powerful contact with the string (with the related increased richness of overtones) the performer uses sometimes an unorthodox “fingering from above”.


Sgorgo N Page 9 System II

Connected with the program Synth Sound (and its unpredictable sensitivity and default tendency) here an example of unorthodox, especially skilled use of the hands, to produce energy in the string and control exactly the rhythmical apparition of the beats.
The L.H hold a pitch B pressing constantly on the 6th string, the R.H taps softly the 5th string at the nut, and then presses the 5th string beyond the nut in order to change tuning of the string and this way producing controlled beats.


Sgorgo N Page 10 System III (Explosion)

sgorgo_n_explosionRitual Suspension by the "Explosion".
Due to the properties and the limits of the BOSS GT-10 Effect System, by using a Synth Sound, after a high isolated FFF sound on a high string, without muting the other strings, starts a background noise whose develop is mostly unpredictable (the Effect System goes in default). In this point of the work, such a kind of apparition plays a deciding complementary formal rule, inside a complete amorphous and quiet contest (as well as in Guai ai gelidi mostri by Luigi Nono, whom the piece is dedicated).

In the original version the unexpected increasing powerful background noise apparition, is interrupted after some seconds, when it reaches its linear climax.

In the version proposed by Y. Deutsch, due to an aware and successful intuition, in order to give a definitive evidence to this moment, the performer adds an Overdrive Effect (Patch level 200!) with a powered equalisation. Connected with the described technique, it produces a real “explosion” of mysterious electronic energy, with a powerful and unpredictable chaotic internal life and evolution. This dynamical sound state - with this power, depth and length – was impossible to imagine before without the introduction of the Overdrive. This extended moment becomes at the same time a further occasion for a “Ritual Suspension”, whose length is in this case as unpredictable as the length of the explosion.



Sgorgo N Page 8-11 (Finger sensitivity)

The Synth Sound program connected with a “Slow Gear” titled effect, requires for an effective outcome a certain degree of clearness and stability of the contact finger-string (see performance notes). The author has used, in a very intuitive but efficient way, these properties/limits of the basic sound to create a kind of voice-like articulation, working on the different degrees of energy and diffusion of the vibration before that the program can process the input signal efficiently.

This is possible using different kinds of contact finger-string, and degrees of finger pressure inside specific articulations (all together build a quality of contact).

Especially in Sgorgo N (and in Y and oO) the performer needs a complete and flexible advanced possession of different finger pressures.

If on one side the notation helps to find an intuitive way to perform these extreme fragile differences, on the other side only a true constant – extra sensitive - discipline of the contact, can lead the performer to possess and realize these degrees of difference.

The performer in this case is “moving” his skill by creating differences with the right hand (with or without plectrum) from the right hand to the left hand, which now is free to work further on the instability of the string tension (Whammy bar), expanding and developing a quality of articulation. It seems to me clear (and expected...) that, only evoking his own passionate familiarity with the extraordinary and visionary finger sensitivity of the Blues musicians, the performer has made possible this result (through dozen of hours of focused practice...).


In this case, as these vocal-like articulated moments arise in the complete emptiness (sometimes they occur this way: 20 seconds inactivity – action – 30 seconds inactivity), under these conditions each unpredictable contact with the string could activate the default of the program The discipline of the contact finger-string and, more in general, the aware discipline of the performer on his body and breath, can be here only underestimated...

Sgorgo oO (Extended manipulation of the strings)

n_2_mani_2_buonaIn Sgorgo N and oO, an extended two-hand manipulation of the strings is required (clearly influenced by the practice of many sensitive Guitar/Bass Rock-Jazz performers). The traditional rule of the hands leaves the place to a different approach to the articulation. That is the case of many passages in Sgorgo oO for instance.

Sometimes both hands act in strict coordination on the same string, even on the same fret, to create one single articulation.

The performer has found his own way to realize many of the proposed articulations, sometimes discovering a more successful way to work them out, testified by the clearness in the articulation reached in many key moments of the works.


Sgorgo oO - Extended field of sound manipulation


The final moment of Sgorgo oO is at the same time the final moment of the whole triptych. It consists of an extreme fragile and “improbable” manipulation of a “state of default” of the Synth Sound program (electronic device - BOSS-GT 10).

After the last action in the high range, the device goes automatically in default, and provides a constant, but extreme instable, distorted background noise. It is the moment where the electric active sound source dominates – as one of the two complementary poles of the sound project – because of its internal autonomous processes. It already happened in each other single “Ritual Suspension” throughout the whole tryptic as well; in this case, it is definitive.

In the preliminary work to the pieces, it was possible to look for and to found an “organic” way to come in touch with this amorphous, digital acoustic entity, by trying to go beyond the rigid limits of the electronic device, willingly forcing them.

It is an attempt to let this anomalous sound reality to reveal further rhythmical properties of its existence (completely unknown), to learn it and to turn in a recognizable “law of balance”. All this in order to harmonize the body with it, approaching it as a “rhythmical law” of the device. It was necessary; in order to define the sense of the whole work and the threshold which connects/separates the two poles: human being and electrified reality.

The performer, also in this case, has found his own way to come in touch with the (unknown) rhythmical life of the device, developing further ways to keep constant this unpredictable state of buzzing electricity, and to modulate it organically. Acting directly on the guitar volume knob (see the detailed explanations in the performance notes), regulating the distance of the hands from the guitar, influencing this way the sensitivity of the whole system and the polarity of electricity circulating in the guitar, it is possible to modulate different qualities and sizes of this unreal sound entity. The result of this careful manipulation, which creates and makes audible these differences, leads this key final moment to the highest degree of evidence.

Sgorgo Y, N, oO. – Articulation clearness and discipline of the performance.

Throughout the whole Sgorgo triptych, some typical energetic forms act on different levels, under different hierarchies. Among the most relevant there is, without doubt, the sound wave, constantly changing and in evolution (size, length, internal rhythm, transformation, degrees of transparency, internal complexity, connections). Despite the notation and the complexity of the realization, which leads the attention of the performer on many technical local details, the most important thing is to give each energetic form its necessary recognizable identity. Above all, when it lies in a secondary level of the actual focused sound.

It deals with an awareness of the sound practice, which requires a complete integration of technical knowledge, discipline of the manipulation and of the acting body, overview on the form, like in any high tradition of the interpretation.

In this case, unlike the already known music, the performer faces somehow the desert. He is not supported and surrounded by a well-known musical tradition and practice. Here he must create and initiate both the sound and the way to enter an unknown formal dimension.

After many live performances, due to the interpretation work by the performer, it is interesting to point out how each performed sound can be clearly experienced and recognized by the listener, as an act involving the whole body. The body prepares, supports, leads and resonates at the same time in a complete unity with the dynamical reality of the sound. Better to say: sound and body are completely harmonised with each other, as two poles of a unique acting entity.

This is both the condition and the result of an aware work on the musical text: the true text, as already pointed out in the short introduction, is the possible reality of an actual, aware and creative performed sound. This shows that any inessential approach with the text has been willingly and preliminary excluded.

No space for instance for a brilliant, only-for-itself and empty virtuosity, which would probably attract the attention of a superficial listener, but would destroy the possibility to penetrate the micro life of the articulation, the internal rhythmical life of the connected sounds and their further relationships.

No space for an only visual, “theatrical” action, whose task is disconnected from producing a sound (or willingly and clearly not producing and simply to be close a sound, like in the Ritual Suspensions). What would perhaps capture the thick attention of an uninterested listener, but mystifies and nullifies the deep discipline of the contact, and so on.

It seems necessary to point out very clearly this kind of austere discipline of the interpretation and its genuine approach. This was one of the reasons why, around 2010, the work on these pieces began, after the definitive impression by Yaron Deutsch ́s solo performances.
In the sound culture from which the Sgorgo experience arises – where any vibration, without distinction, aspires to become a trace and an occasion for a possible contact with the authentic *Sound – clearness and awareness lie essentially in the quality of the approach.

Only this authentic approach has an “enlightening” capacity, above all when the sound reality seems to be enigmatic, chaotic, inconsistent, and irrational (or simply beyond the familiar borders of the typical old/new traditional conception).

This makes possible that any kind of sound-presence (and therefore a Background-noise too...) enters the circle of the musical attention, and receives, thanks this approach, the dignity as possible *Sound (that is to say not as a musical object, an element or a vibration to use - as material for a construction, but as an entity, radiating sense and relationships).