Louigi Verona's Workshop

a word from the author

With great pleasure and anticipation I present to you this work, an album of sound compositions, completed in March of 2010. Most of them are of extreme static nature and length.

A lot of my listeners, even those already familiar with an earlier work, titled "Electricity", might find it difficult to see the presented release as music they can relate to or even fail to recognize it as music or any other form of art. But because as a sound composer I believe this work to be an essence of my calling and expertise and even talent, at least in my persistent longing and deep interest towards that exact type of recordings, I humbly present some of my views and explanations of sound composing as an answer to the perplexity an inexperienced listener might rightfully have.

Whether this is music or not is an easy question to answer.
As new technologies emerged, there are inherently two ways to approach this problem - either to expand the definition of music to incorporate new creations into it, and that has been done on several occasions, or to recognize new forms of art. I personally stand for the latter.
Music in our minds and throughout hundreds of years has been, technically speaking, note music - the beauty, the ingenuity, complexity and skill was centered around combinations of notes, around discovering rules of harmony and discovering melodies.
Recordings such as this one are very different. In fact, the process of working on such sound compositions has nothing in common with note music composing. The general rules are different, the material is different, the methods are different and eventually the goal is different as well. For instance, rarely does one need notes - only as means of changing the speed of playback of a certain recording. And since using notes means using a discrete speed switcher, usually a composer of sound music would go for an indiscrete method of changing speed anyway, working with the whole audible range of frequencies, rather than using fixed values. And so the studio of a sound composer might not even have instruments with the expected black and white keys and instead have all kinds of panels with knobs and sliders and small glowing screens.
The goal, the impression one wants to put upon the listener - those are also significantly different from note music. While note music seeks to evoke a strong, evident emotional response, perhaps tell a story or at least is usually structured like a story, sound composers typically set out to create a mood, an atmosphere, to create subtle, delicate imprints, semitones of emotions, which border with one another and are difficult to put into words; as if to paint a picture rather than tell a story.

Whether this is art or not is always left to the judgement of the listener.
There are many reasons why a lot of recordings, produced using electronic devices are questioned in their creditability as art. Playing a live instrument and even listening to intricate motifs of a Bach prelude makes it easy to understand the skill and talent required to perform and compose such music.
The work with synthesizers and computers is far less transparent. In fact, almost any kind of work done with computers rarely exhibits the complexity of labour and knowledge required to set it up. This makes it very difficult to judge from the result if any skill was required at all to produce it.
Additionally, a lot of sound music, as stated above, aims to (or at least, generally has a tendency to) create very delicate semitones of mood and noticing that myriad of meanings, perceiving those subtle strokes of the brush requires the culture of listening to such music, very similar to the culture of responding to any kind of complex art, a lot of which might not be totally, if at all, clear to a person with no experience of perceiving it. And at times being responsive to certain types of art might even need a level of maturity, life experience, something that comes only with age and cannot be replaced by any other artificial explanation or education. (Someone might consider this argument to be an example of elitism, which does indeed exist from time to time around arts. However, there is no need to prove that there are a lot of things in life which require a lot of dedication to be reached and yet we do not consider people, who have mastered something, to display elitism when they say that certain things one simply cannot understand until he gains certain experience and expertise. So the culture of understanding certain complex music should not, although it theoretically can, be a form of elitism. After all, listening experience is available to anyone who wishes to engage in it.)
The static, sometimes hypnotic nature of the tunes is a very important part of what they are, going far beyond the goals of meditation or calming down and is an interesting and extremely deep subject in itself, but at the same time it might be the main barrier in an attempt to understand this kind of compositions for the new comer, as we are used to not only expect change, but consider change to be a generally good thing, so one of the usual comments a sound composer of static music receives is that it is "boring" or that it "makes you want to sleep". All that can be said here is that with experience the reaction to such music will definitely change - among lovers of such compositions wanting to sleep is a very rare thing; at the same time a lot of non-static music that a person does not understand, can put a person to sleep, a great example being opera.
Another, a more in-depth comment is that the inspiration and the power of the impression made by sound music is achieved by breaking down the form of usual music, by means of destruction and that such methods have very limited success which wears with time and which is a sign of a dying culture, or to deliver less pathos - the result of an unsuccessful search for something new and original.
The answer to this seemingly reasonable commentary is actually contained above, where I state that sound compositions are a separate form of art that should not be confused with composing note music and which, even as a composing process, has little in common with writing notes for an instrument or an orchestra. So the question itself is based on a misunderstanding, on an erroneous premise that the usual, note-based music and sound compositions are one form of art and thus sound compositions can be regarded as a destruction of the first, original form. That it is not so can be additionally shown by an analogy of sculpture and painting. Both are visual arts and both seemingly require similar talents from the author, at least there are a lot of examples when an artist can do both painting and sculpture well, but at the same time they are clearly different forms and nobody would seriously consider painting to be a destruction of sculpture, reasoning that it destroys the third dimension.

In the end, what I think matters is what the listener is left with. One might not consider this exact album a display of skill and wonder if any skill was required at all, one might not consider this collection of tunes to be music, but if listening to it creates a response, if it touches upon something you feel is important, if you know that from time to time you might want to return to this universe and stay a little, then perhaps these sounds are a bit more than what they seem and sharing them is indeed a dialogue that would not be at all possible if only words were involved.

A lot of tunes are very personal in that sense.
"Place of the sun" is about a road in the city I come from, which leads to the country near the city where people have their country houses. My grandfather had a country house with a garden there and he worked in it during summer and sometimes we would go visit and there, in the open fields, I would dream to stay there with a computer, on the second floor of a small house, and compose music in solitude, having left all the worries and rush of a large city and the various engagements that come with it, lost in the fields, with the blue sky above me.
It never happened - at least, not when I lived there - but since then, almost each time I am composing, mentally I go back to that place, I picture the road that leads there, lit in the sun, and somehow feel that inside me, somewhere very deep, I really do achieve the solitude I need, as if I am in those fields.
This year my grandfather has passed away and I cannot help but think about it each time when in my mind I go to my place of the sun. I am wondering if it will be the same, if knowing that he is not travelling that road anymore will make a difference and what changes will it bring. And the whole tune is a mixture of different feelings - powerful, confident waves that paint a picture of a blue sky and vast spaces are outlined by a slightly off-tune drone in the background, as if showing the loss of balance, and the gurgling noise hints that you are receiving a radiogram from far, far away...

I simply do not know of any other kind of music that can say this much.

March 2010.
Louigi Verona.


1. Transforming a static recording.
Although the tunes are optimized for headphones, as a lot of detailed semitone-impression kind of ambient music, at least one tune was made to also be listened to on speakers while walking around the room.
"A chord lost in wires", almost all the way, has a static noise drone which starts to shift frequencies only closer to the end. If you walk around the room while listening to the tune, you will notice that with the change of distance and angle towards the speakers the frequency of the drone will change. This effect is similar to a lot of noisy sounds, but in this exact composition the static nature of the drone and the minimalism of the composition as a whole makes the drone and the frequency shifting effect very noticeable and a lot of fun.

2. Tech details.
The general method used for this album, something that can easily be recognized by fellow sound composers, is the technique of slowing down. However, while the general approach is to slow down the final mix, I did it the other way around. I took loops and non-looped source sounds, slowed them down the way I wanted them and only then started to play them and mix together. Granulation was also used, specifically in "A chord lost in wires". "Parallel streams" uses shifting, with two loops having slightly different lengths and thus creating lots of non-repeating combinations. During recording I shifted loop points in real time. A third loop kicks in near the end.
"Blow low" uses slowed down samples of me playing a flute.
"Sleeping depths" uses shifting of two loops but it is not obvious due to the nature of sounds used; it can be noticed quite easily, though - pulsations shift relative to each other and create a rhythm of their own.