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DavidKant on 08/23/2010 at 11:28AM

Musica Universalis: Music of the Planes

Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

July 28, 2010, Cecilia López brought her Música Mecánica para Chapas to ISSUE Project Room, a long way from her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The composition features López’s homemade instrument, called the chapa: a large sheet of metal, suspended from the ceiling, and rigged with piezo-electric elements that both amplify the vibrations of the sheet and drive it.

We played the chapas in pairs; for each chapa, one performer playing at it and the other playing the chapa itself. Facundo Gómez—López’s partner in acoustic crime—shook, bent and uncurled the metal sheet, capturing and transforming the sounds of my saxophone into disembodied and transfigured specters of ringing feedback.

It was a strange kind of duet. It felt like we each had one hand on the same instrument. It felt like someone was taking the voice right out of my throat and manipulating it before it ever reached my own ears. At times, the sound of my saxophone and the sound of the chapa were completely indistinguishable. Then the metal sheet trembled and the sound split into two halves. Sometimes I tried to mimic the sound of the chapa, and other times I struggled to distinguish myself from it.

I felt an overwhelming sense of being part of the machine, part of this immense acoustic mechanism. In contrast to the all-too-often disembodied sensation of performing electro-acoustic music, this was not my sound and processed sound. It was not about input and output. It was just one giant edifice of physicality and acoustic resonance.

This particular performance for ISSUE Project Room’s 15-channel speaker system nicely complements other recordings of Música Mecánica para Chapas. The performance was more subdued and subtle than others, but still retains López’s characteristic controlled chaos of feedback and eerie sonic simulacra.



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