composition for tape (1999)
composer Diego Garro
220 million years ago the super-continent of Pangea, which encompassed all the world's land surface, started to break apart. At that time, the so called Triassic era, land was one single mega-continent and water was one single vast ocean. Nature was screaming with all its strength and the planet was one pure single unexploited entity in which mankind had not yet appeared.
PANGEA is a posthumous portrait of that lost world and its epic struggle towards self construction/destruction with no intervention, blessed or damned depending on the viewpoint, of a superior dominant species.
Thus this work has to be regarded both as an environmentalist statement as well as an electroacoustic work about the environment: I am willing to take both a political and an aesthetic stance.
Because I deliberately decided to deal with a pre-human scenario, I used no human nor human-related sounds. Indeed I attempted to prove that there can also be 'music' without us. There can also be 'music' around-beyond-beside-behind-before us; which means, ultimately, within us, within our knowledge and our sensibility. Sometimes we should only preoccupy ourselves, either as composers, performers or listeners, with the limited task of uncovering and discovering it.
The sounds of nature have always been among the favourite materials for sonic artists, for reasons that we often fail to explain fully. Our physical and emotional response to them is related to some kind of ancestral legacy that no theoretical analysis has yet managed to comprehend. Or maybe it is just because they are incredibly beautiful…
I used recorded sounds from the natural environment, 'concrète' studio recordings, synthesised sounds and numerous computer processed versions of these materials to construct relatively long sections where recognition and ambiguity of the sonic landscapes are carefully used as compositional tools. The 'tempo' of the piece, particularly within its anecdotal sections, is intentionally slowed down to encourage the listener's contemplation of the scenes and the way they unfold.
The structure of the piece also reflects my approach to environmental sound composition as a balance between portrayal and abstraction: an abstract introduction evolves into a forest floor scene; an oceanic landscape is followed by a surrealistic counterpoint of rocks and bubbles; an unexpected thunderstorm segues into an acousmatic dialogue of meta-mammals and elements; the song of early birds merges into the allegorical depiction of the super-continent breakup which circularly echoes the beginning of the piece.
A sense of nostalgia for a forgotten wholeness and purity underlies the shapes and the colors of this sonic painting. But this is a blatant contradiction. In fact, no man can possibly feel any longing for that ancient world where human steps were unheard and human thoughts were still unknown. And rocks and dinosaurs feel no nostalgia.
Or do they?