I don’t know if Lucretius was the first to notice it, but I find wonderful the passage by De rerum natura in which the poet describes the wonder that appears when the air of a room in shadow, apparently empty, crossed by a ray of sunshine reveals suddenly a fine dust, an infinity of very small suspended bodies that animate it, fluctuating. There are no other direct references between the present work and that of Lucretius, if not perhaps the memory of this amazement, of the infantile thrill of witnessing an unexpected magic that reveals a universe. And this is also one of the highest possibilities, and challenges, connected with the activity of a poet: explaining science, or at least helping to reveal it, like a litmus test. And can music do it? The sound is actually another magic, which is not seen as well, but there is. And that comes from another fine dust, from the infinity of vibrations that the materials from which the instruments are made can generate. Waves that spread, hover in the air, make environments and minds vibrate.
The percussion is a world in the world: made of wood, metal, leather and many other materials, noble or very poor but all indirectly there to tell of attempts, discoveries, small-big inventions: press here, beat there, to stretch, to shake, to rub here, to crawl a little further … But to the usual De rerum natura also tries to add something else, other materials, other objects: very long steel cables, springs of disparate shape, large elastic bands, resonant papers …
The amplification and electronics do not play the usual role of ‘bringing the sound of the instruments from the stage to every corner of the room’, but they try the exact opposite: capturing the subtle changes that those same angles – and the whole environment – bring to the sound generated by traditional instruments and thus reveal another “dust” still, not directly perceptible by our ear, if not illuminated by the light of technology.
De rerum natura was written in 2019 for ZAUM_percussion, commissioned by the Milano Musica Festival with the support of SIAE – Classici di Oggi, and is dedicated to Ivan Fedele.