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Abel Paúl
Concert Saturday at 20:00, Granhøj Dans
External link: www.abelpaul.net
Abel Paúl
Composer (ES), 1984

”As a composer, I am particularly interested in the creation of hybrid contexts in which theatrical elements (gesture, ordinary daily-life objects, obsolete means of audio reproduction, visibility/invisibility of the performance, speech, sound filters...) coexist with complex musical discourses.”

Abel Paúl explores the different levels in the reception of a work: pure musical ones and others partially rooted in everyday life. The function of these “external” everyday elements may be sensed in several ways, he says: As unexpected reformulations, as nostalgic artefacts that carry us back to a more or less distant past, as symbolic links to a perhaps more immediate and tangible reality...

Abel Paúl’s music develops in a somewhat alchemical territory in which musical thought and the abstraction of theatrical elements become indissoluble, integral and necessary components of the same aesthetic continuum.

Abel Paúl was born in Spain in 1984. He studied composition (BMus and MMus) at the ‘Conservatorium van Amsterdam’ with Fabio Nieder and Richard Ayres as main professors, and at the Universität der Künste in Berlin with Walter Zimmermann. Paúl was awarded the ’2008 Salvatore Martirano Composition Award’ at the University of Illinois and granted with a national prize of the CDMC (Spanish Contemporary Music Center). He has received an ‘honorable mention’ at the ‘Mauricio Kagel Wettbewerb’ in Vienna (jury: Helmut Lachenmann). His music was selected for the ISCM’s 2009 World Music Days in Sweden and he has been an active participant in Acanthes 2009. Paúl’s music has been performed at numerous international festivals and by various eminent ensembles such as the ASKO Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Slaagwerkgroep den Haag, Ensemble Aleph, Insomnio Ensemble, Norrbotten NEO, UIUC New Music Ensemble, Sond’Arte Electric Ensemble, Zahir Ensemble, Plural Ensemble and several others. Dutch radio AVRO4, Radio France, Deutschlandfunk and Radio Nacional de España have broadcasted his music. He works has been commissioned by several international festivals and ensembles.

3 questions for Paúl

What opportunities, qualities or
restrictions do you think sound has as an artistic material?

As a composer, I consider sound as a primary stratum from which the rest of the elements are derived. In my eyes, the organism of a piece, its articulation and reception is fully dependent on the sonic nature of the available materials. The “surface” of music is largely constrained to the particular features of a specific sound world. Sound activates our most immediate and visceral reactions in relation to music. This may be expressed as a physical response to its inner qualities or as an emotional reaction, as a reference or link to a particular recollection or previous experience. Sound is a mechanism to determine artificial spaces: two or more identical or similar sources define a set of sonic analogies that may delineate a particular map of references, a geography ultimately materialized in our ears. Sound is also a tool to sound out a room, to measure and explore the volume of a space (and possibly to redefine it). More importantly, sound works as a tool to shape our memory, defining temporal structures by means of repetition and recurrence, ultimately giving form to a composition, delineating both the superficial level and the internal arches that sustain a musical discourse.

What does silence represent to you – in general and in regards to your artistic practice?

Silence is a necessary illusion, an unattainable reality which is nevertheless essential for the act of composition. I do not consider silence as a vacuum or emptiness but rather as a continuum in which sound is projected. In such a way, I don't conceive silence as the absence of sound but as an undefined layer, an ever-changing stratus of residual noises and acoustic conditions, a framework on which the performance of a work is juxtaposed. This continuum we call silence is the infrastructure that ultimately determines the way we listen to music or to a particular sound. The array of acoustic conditions (the internal geography of a space, heating and air conditioning, the noises involuntarily produced by the audience...) conform the monotonous universe we identify as silence. In my eyes, this substrate greatly influences and partially determines the uniqueness of a performance and its reception. I almost never think about silence in absolute terms (unless it is from a strictly metaphorical perspective). I very much prefer the idea of an undefined fluid, continuous and changing frame in which sound takes place.

How do you work with the relation between sound and context in your artistic practice - or with the particular artwork/ composition you are bringing to SPOR 2013?

In this particular composition, I explore two different angles of the relation between sound and the surrounding context. On one hand I use sound as an architectural or environmental mechanism in order to extend, enrich or reformulate the actual performing space. In my piece, I intend to create a virtual redistribution of the stage by the use of duplications and sound replicas. The piano is multiplied by the use of recordings which are in turn played by different phonographs. These recordings may differ slightly from each other but still show an unmistakeable link to the original source, working as focal points, as slightly distorted mirrors that reflect the same materials. Hopefully, this set of sound analogies will enhance the delineation of a new geography whose ultimate logic is only to be materialized in our ears. On the other hand, and on an metaphorical and poetic level I regard sound as the creator of a nostalgic context that may trigger an association with our inner, personal archaeology. The vinyls and the phonographs display a particular sonic universe, they work as individualized “filters” defining a particular realm of residual noises and different acoustic identities. I am particularly fascinated by this aspect of technological vintage, the mechanical nature and the poetic inexactitudes of yesterday's means of audio reproduction. In my eyes, the unique sonic identity generated by these devices has the effect of a symbolic time machine. It takes us back to a tangential past which is combined, contrasted and perhaps alienated by the immediateness of the musical discourse.

> Wolfgang Heiniger
> Covered, Uncovered