Seeking virtual voices in Luigi Nono’s A Pierre (1985) through a study of a performance and the creative process

This paper will report on research undertaken to transcribe a performance of Luigi Nono’s A Pierre. Dell’azzurro silenzio, inquietum for contrabass flute, contrabass clarinet and live electronics (1985). The performance took place at the Banff Centre (Canada) on 28 February 2009. The purpose of the project is to provide a reliable and stable record of one instantiation of the work. This information is being examined in conjunction with data gleaned from a study of sources pertaining to the creative process conserved primarily at the Archivio Luigi Nono: sketches, drafts, fair copies, test and experimental recordings, interviews with Nono’s collaborators, records of rehearsals, as well as a careful examination of the equipment used at the time to manage the live electronic component of the composition. In other words, we are studying what Jean-Jacques Nattiez calls the ‘poiétique’ and ‘esthésique’ aspects of the work, because a text of the complete work per se (the so-called neutral level) does not exist. Once complete, we believe that this graphical record of the performance event should allow us to establish correlations between how the work was composed and performance outcomes. We are not merely reconstructing a score of the performance for archival purposes, nor are we aiming to create an enhanced version of the recording. In our project, a detailed genetic study and a careful examination of a performance intertwine to create a new approach to musical analysis intended specifically for music for which conventional notation is inadequate.

Ian Burleigh

Ian Burleigh is Assistant Professor at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, where he teaches natural science and technology-oriented courses for the new Digital Audio Arts program, in the Department of Music. Burleigh holds an Electronic Computers Engineering degree (Ing.) from Czech Technical University in Prague, M.Sc. in Computer Science from University of Calgary, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and Music at the University of Calgary. Originally from Bohemia, he worked in Prague as systems analyst and software engineer, clinical engineer in a hospital, and a clinical researcher. At the same time, he performed as a professional freelance musician (saxophones, clarinet) with a number of traditional jazz and new age music groups, some of which frequently toured Europe. In the mid-1990s, he moved to Canada, where he worked as software engineer, taught programming at a technological institute, and in spare time played jazz, world, band, and chamber music. In the last several years he has focused on the study, research, and teaching of computational applications in sonic arts.

Friedemann Sallis

Friedemann Sallis is Professor at the University of Calgary. He obtained his PhD in musicology under the direction of the late Carl Dahlhaus at the Technische Universität Berlin. His writings include a book on the early works of György Ligeti, the co-edition of A Handbook to Twentieth-Century Musical Sketches (Cambridge University Press, 2004), the co-edition of Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile: Interpreting the music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág and Sándor Veress (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011) as well as numerous articles on twentieth-century music. As well as sketch studies, Sallis’s areas of expertise include the interaction of historical and theoretical perspectives in twentieth-century music, aesthetics and the cultural study of music. He has received Fellowship Grants from the Paul Sacher Foundation (Basel) and since 1997 he has been awarded five successive research grants by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Laura Zattra

Laura Zattra received her PhD in Music and Musicology at the Sorbonne-Paris IV University under the direction of Marc Battier and in Musical Sciences at Trento University under the direction of Rossana Dalmonte. She pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of Padova, where she also received several research grants. Her writings include the book Studiare la computer music. Definizioni, analisi, fonti (, 2011), Musica e famiglia. L’avventura artistica di Renata Zatti (CLEUP, 2010), the co-edition of Presenza storica di Luigi Nono (LIM 2011) and Vent’anni di musica elettronica all’università di Padova. Il centro di sonologia computazionale (CIMS 2002), as well as articles and book chapters in English, French and Italian. Zattra is a member of the Associazione di Informatica Musicale Italiana, the Observatoire Musical Français, Sorbonne-Paris IV and the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network. Her current research project, ‘COEM: Cooperative Electroacoustic Music’, is funded by the University of Padova. Other research interests include women composers, contemporary music archives and preservation.