Hey there! It’s Naomi coming to you with her latest experiences in Madrid! As many of you know, I have been staying with a host family during this spring semester. My host parents are preparing for a semana del sonido (week of sound) in March, and are fascinated with music and the natural sounds people experience daily. Today I was invited to attend an event with them at la Casa de Velázquez in Moncloa. The event was a combination of artistic showcases as well as performances, but there are two musical works I want to share.
Number one: We entered through a black curtain into a semi dark lit room with two pianos. There was a projection on the wall of a man walking on snow and doing different movements. A woman was playing the piano but it wasn’t in the traditional sense. It was more like scratching, plucking and hitting the strings with various objects, and a little bit of playing the keys. I looked under the propped cover and noticed a small metal bowl on some of the strings to produce a tinny type sound. Other strings had duct tape on them, hindering their ability to resonate and ultimately producing a sharper percussive noise. She also had a mallet and would use the end to scratch the strings slowly. At first I did not enjoy the experience because I could not make sense of the video nor the untraditional use of the piano, but after my curiosity was ignited I became more interested in how these sounds were produced.
Number two: When I entered the room a man told me where to stand. There were pictures on the wall and people in costumes were scattered throughout the audience. The performers had headpieces on which held their phone and offered a mirror for them to see their music. Earbuds were connected to their phones and worn in both ears. While they were singing, they moved around the space and acted in accordance with the directional cues they were given like to be “cute” or stand still. They all sang different parts, each performer with a beautiful voice. On top of the singing, artificial sounds were made by a man who wore what looked to be virtual reality goggles with controls in his hands. When he would wave his hands in the air it would produce different noises. Overall it was an interesting experience. I probably would not do it again but I was not put off by it.
In the end, I am happy I went. It was really nice to share an activity with my host parents that was in the field of what they study. I was challenged in that I was raised listening to classical music, but I appreciated learning more about modern compositions. Music means so many different things to different people and it was neat seeing how the evolution of sound and performance is interpreted within this community in Spain. Tu Amiga, Naomi
Naomi Fun Fact: I used to play cello for 8 years.
Naomi Roter, student blogger primavera 2020