Composing with Piezo
Defence of the PhD research ‘Composing with Piezo’, conducted by Daniela Fantechi between 2019 and 2022 at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp (AP Hogeschool) - within the research group Creatie-, ARIA (UAntwerp) and the docARTES programme of the Orpheus Institute.
Promotors: Wim Henderickx (Royal Conservatoire Antwerp) and Erik Myin (UAntwerp)
|PROGRAMME FRIDAY 1 JULY 2022
at auditorium Orpheus Institute, Ghent
|14:00 - 17:00||
The thesis Composing with piezo concerns Daniela Fantechi's research project about the composition of instrumental music implemented with a specific use of piezoelectric microphones - low cost and low fidelity contact microphones. During her research, Daniela explored a peculiar use of this technology not only to disclose and amplify the instrumental sound but also to produce unusual sounds, through a reinterpretation of some instrumental gestures, such as glissando, tapping, scraping, etc, produced by playing with the microphone directly on the instrument. The introduction of piezoelectric microphones in her compositional work changed the relationships with the instrumental sound matter, bringing to question different aspects of the compositional approach. The whole research process has consequently been supported by the search for frameworks, theories, and examples, to understand and bring focus to the evolving compositional practice.
The thesis starts by investigating the history of the contact microphone and the way it has become a cultural object, considering diverse artistic experiences in the time window from the '60s to the '80s, when contact microphones began to be a widespread technology. From then on, the use of contact microphones has become common in a huge and diverse range of artistic experiences, most of them related to sound art and experimental music. The second chapter addresses what kind of changes and interferences the introduction of piezoelectric microphones brings into the instrumental sound system, by observing the kind of impact the use of piezoelectric microphones on acoustic instruments has on the listening experience, here defined as a "stethoscopic form of listening". The role of the piezo within the instrumental system is then addressed from an ecological perspective, taking into account the complexity of the feedback network between the instrument and the performer, the alteration of the usual perceptual habits, and the possibility of building new instrumental systems. The third chapter highlights some relevant concepts that have emerged from the practice and have become operational within the development of the research. The fourth chapter is dedicated to the main artistic outputs of the research. For each work, the technical setup, the context for which the piece has been written, and the compositional practice are explained.