Q&A with Giovanni Di Domenico
about L’Occhio Del Vedere
“We tried to find the perfect balance of tension and release, of consonance and dissonance — all this forms a very suspended feeling albeit the inside, the core of it, has a warm soul.” — Giovanni Di Domenico
Yuko Zama (YZ): I read your interview on the 15 Questions website the other day and your answers were very interesting to me. I especially liked your statement, "I think the dream state, especially the hypnagogic state, is very “musical”, and sounds are felt and understood in a very different way when you are asleep or, mostly, in the sleep onset."
That makes a lot of sense to me, too. In fact, one thing I place a great deal of emphasis on when listening to a potential release on my label is how the music makes me feel when I hear it in a hypnagogic state, and for me that is a major criterion in determining if the music is great. I believe that the sensations one experiences while in the hypnagogic state help one to understand the true depth of the music. And I believe that such music also induces the listener to enter such a state. I often think it is as if we could see through to the bottom of a deep lake where all the muddiness has cleared away, and it happens somehow only when we are in the state of half-asleep.
Giovanni Di Domenico (GDD): Yes, I totally confirm those words about the hypnagogic state, sometimes I wish I could have a direct link from my brain to music sheet to pen down the music I hear during that state, it goes beyond possible explanation! I have no idea about the scientific process that makes that happen, for me it’s just pure bliss!
YZ: For me, your L'Occhio Del Vedere is music with such special power. What initially inspired you to compose this piece? And how did this trio collaboration begin and take shape?
GDD: I decided to put up this trio as I was mapping out possibilities to go and work in an artistic residency in GMEA, Albi, France. They gave me the possibility to be there for a week and do as I pleased, so for the most part of that week (3 days) I decided to invite Silvia and Emmanuel. I was following and liking their work for some time, so I thought it only natural to try to make some music together.
The idea of the composition came after I decided I wanted to ask Silvia and Emmanuel and they agreed: I then sat at the piano and started to play. What came out is just 2 melodic lines and their harmonic information (the permutations, chords and harmonic structures within the melodies) that I brought into the studio, confident that that information was sufficient for us to build a piece around it, and that’s exactly what happened.
After one day trying out improvising, we decided to try with those melodies and a ‘triptych’ structure (basically A-B-A, the opening arpeggio/chord being A and the descending melody in Fm being B). We tried to find the perfect balance of tension and release, of consonance and dissonance - all this forms a very suspended feeling albeit the inside, the core of it, has a warm soul.
We did some takes in the remaining two days (I think 8 or so in total) and then I went back home and edited those takes into one whole. So, I guess it is my composition but I’d like to credit them also, since this piece was developed this way in collaboration with these two wonderful musicians.
YZ: I am particularly impressed that although this piece is structured with very simple sounds and movements, the trio's attention to detail and space is superb, and the way the three musicians' sounds intertwine (while contrasting with each other) gives very unique dimensions to the piece. Each sound (and silence) contains vibrant life while moving together with a calm, natural, and open feel as a whole without losing its tension, as you mentioned earlier: "with a perfect balance of tension and release, of consonance and dissonance". Besides that (or related to these things), was there any particular focus and intent that your trio aimed to attain through this work?
GDD: The only thing we were really careful with was space and resonance, the sound together came quite naturally, I thought that when I chose to play with them, I was sure actually it was going to be like that, what surprised me was that from the beginning we went there, it was not difficult at all!
YZ: What did you find particularly intriguing about Silvia Tarozzi and Emmanuel Holterbach who made you want to collaborate with them? What discoveries, inspirations, or surprises did you have while collaborating with these two musicians?
GDD: I decided to want to work with them because what I like in their work is that they’re not committed to one particular style, “genre” and such: Silvia is an amazing contemporary violin player (that’s her world since always) but she put out a record called Mi Specchio E Rifletto which is made of (great) songs, Emmanuel can’t really be placed anywhere in the musical world and with both of them I was not sure at the beginning even which instruments they might have played!
So, there is the surprise element but this openness regarding the frame in which to operate is one of my main desires when choosing (sometime you don’t choose, it just happens) the people with which to work, that and the human aspect of course (which is intertwined, I believe, with one’s own musical choices). So, the main surprise was to have a wonderful meeting under the human aspect, we spent 3 wonderful hot summer days in a special southern France old medieval town, and Le Robinson….it’s the place we went after recording, we all fell in love with it! It was truly a very nice experience!
Then the instruments they brought: I knew Silvia as a violinist, but the special 1/16th of a tone tuned violin was new to me, and Emmanuel came with this big frame drum: I knew his electro-acoustic music and some other more electronic and his composition Ricercar Nell’Ombra (so very different things I’d say…) and it was a total surprise the frame drum, a surprise the sound world that it brought to the piece! That’s why I’d like to stress again the importance they had in shaping the composition, what I did was just starting this thing and giving a road to walk on (the road on the cover…?), the landscape we three did together while walking!