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Glass over water under light.
RUI ALMEIDA, NUNO MIRANDA RIBEIRO
(Green Field Recordings 2012)

“Glass over water under light” is an unusual sound work based on “field recordings”.

There are no traces of pure environmental recordings, neither “natural” sounds but nevertheless the whole work has to be considered “concrète” in its essence.

Everything is build around the buzzing noise of a fluorescent light that provides a static canvas over which the composers (Rui Almeida, Nuno Miranda Ribeiro and Maria Oliveira)  developed an improvisation with al least three different sound sources: water, glasses and a photographic camera.

Throughout the duration of the work (single track, 22:05) the objects are played as if they were musical instruments and therefore each sound retains the characteristics of the object itself but it also reflects the gesture of stimulating the object in particular and distinctive ways.

Although made with a limited set of sound sources the outcome is incredibly heterogeneous for what concerns the characteristics of timbre and dynamic and can be easily considered as a traditional musical piece, but unlike traditional musical pieces, here the most prominent trait of the recording is the evident link between the “performance” and the “materials” used to perform.

I want to add some questions that have come to my mind while listening to “Glass over water under light”. I do not want to find answers here but I’d like to encourage the reader to listen to this composition in order to fill out my “blank spaces”.

How much the performance is influenced by prior notions about the “instruments”?

Is there a kind of score in the performance or is it just an involuntary reaction that aims to explore the sounds in “real time”?

When the performer generates a sound, is he/she aware that the tactile sensation caused by the act of hitting, stroking, scraping the objects, is nothing more that the future vibration mapped within a slightly different domain?

Can an improvisation be regarded as a collection of tactile reactions?

Everyone knows the sound a drinking glass can make, but “knowing” a sound does it mean that we know how to “play” it?

I voluntarily use the verb “to play” because the whole point here is not about the act of recording but it is about the establishment of the sound, it is about its birth.

“Glass over water under light” is a very interesting soundwork because it shifts the attention before the actual recording takes place and even before the birth of the sound. The attention is completely focused on the actions of exploring an object and studying its behavior under different conditions and contexts.

-Elliot Loe

Rui Almeida website
Nuno Miranda Ribeiro
Green Field Recordings website