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Music Without Musicians: Pietro Grossi’s Experience in Electronic and Computer Music

Parolini, Giuditta (2016) Music Without Musicians: Pietro Grossi’s Experience in Electronic and Computer Music. University of Leeds. [Dataset] https://doi.org/10.5518/160/27

This item is part of the Alternative Histories of Electronic Music collection.

Dataset description

Pietro Grossi (1917-2002) and the S 2F M, the electronic music studio he created in Florence, are one of the Italian experiences in electronic music listed in Hugh Davies’ International Electronic Music Catalogue. Fascinated by the new opportunities offered by technologies, Grossi, a cellist and composer, left his successful career of thirty years in the orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for an uncertain venture in electronic and computer music, and later also in visual art. Grossi’s choice was inspired by a radical project: to make music without musicians, to free the intellectual act of composition from the labour of the musical performance. Grossi’s interest in electronic music began with a visit to the electronic music studio set up by the Italian public broadcasting corporation (RAI) in Milan. There he created his first composition in electronic music, Progetto 2-3 (1961), based on combinatorics. Enthusiastic about this experience, in 1963 Grossi assembled in his house in Florence some basic equipment for making electronic music. The “Studio di Fonologia Musicale di Firenze” (S 2F M) was born. In 1965 the equipment moved from Grossi’s house to the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini, the Florentine music school, where Grossi had been teaching cello for many years, and where he began to teach also a class in electronic music. The equipment became available to the composers and the students of the school interested in experimenting with the opportunities offered by electronics, but also engineers and visual artists curious about electronic music took part in Grossi’s work. Throughout the 1960s the S 2F M produced compositions, either by Grossi or by his co-workers. Many of these compositions circulated under the name of the studio, not of the single composer, because Grossi conceived electronic music as an open-ended enterprise in which the tapes produced by others could be dismembered and pieces borrowed and reassembled to create a new musical experience. In the second half of the 1960s Grossi began to experiment with computers. In the following decades computer music became the main interest of Grossi and his S 2F M. Establishing collaborations with producers of mainframes based in Italy (Olivetti-General Electric and IBM) and scientific institutions involved in computational research (in particular the Italian University Computing Centre (CNUCE) based in Pisa), Grossi had the opportunity to promote the development of both hardware and software tools for computer music. More appreciated by computer scientists and high-tech entrepreneurs than by musicians, Grossi’s work eventually turned in the 1980s to the production of visual art displays with the personal computer (Homeart). My talk will analyse Grossi’s career path from electronic to computer music. I will investigate the role that technologies – at first oscillators, filters and synthesizers, and later digital computers – played in this process and the alliances that Grossi established with technicians, scientists and hardware developers to pursue his projects. I will argue that in Grossi’s vision electronic music was the first, but incomplete step, towards the full automation of the musical performance that computers made possible. The talk will also consider Grossi’s connections with national and international experiences in electronic and computer music, and his activities for the dissemination of electronic and computer music in collaboration with the Italian public broadcasting corporation.

Subjects: W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music
W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music > W310 - Musicianship/performance studies > W316 - Electronic/electro-acoustic music performance
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures > School of Music
Related resources:
LocationType
https://doi.org/10.1017/S135577181700005XPublication
http://hughdaviesproject.wordpress.comWebsite
Date deposited: 27 Jul 2017 19:29
URI: https://archive.researchdata.leeds.ac.uk/id/eprint/209

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