Dario Palermo | Difference Engines | Amirani Records


Difference Engines

Arditti String Quartet, Catherine Carter, Milo Tamez , Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg

Post Production Manager, Mixing and Mastering Engineer: Nikolay Georgiev. Liner Notes: Paolo Valore. Graphics: Nicola Guazzaloca. Production: Gianni Mimmo


(excerpt) 1. RO – Premiére danse de la Lune (2012) 17:54 for amplified Drum-set Percussion and real time electronics

Milo Tamez, Drum-set Percussion

Recorded at Arbol Sonoro Studio, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México, 10th February 2014
Juan de Dios Lastra – Recording Engineer. Nikolay Georgiev – Mixing and Mastering Engineer

(excerpt) 2. The Difference Engine (2010-2011) 27:56 for amplified String Quartet, Mezzo-Soprano and real time electronics

Arditti String Quartet: Irvine Arditti, Ashot Sarkissyan – Violin | Ralf Ehlers – Viola | Lucas Fels – Violoncello | Catherine Carter – Mezzo-Soprano

Recorded at All Saints’ Church, London, UK, 26th July 2011 and at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama, London, UK, 9th November 2011

Nikolay Georgiev – Recording Engineer. Peter Zed – Assistant Recording Engineer. Kit Venables – Assistant Recording Engineer. Nikolay Georgiev – Mixing and Mastering Engineer

(excerpt) 3. TRANCE – Five abstract stations (2009) 12:37 for male voice and real time electronics

Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Tenor

Recorded at Studio Odeon – Brussels, Belgium, 24th February 2010. Michaël W. Huon – Recording Engineer. Nikolay Georgiev – Mixing and Mastering Engineer

Dario Palermo | Photo by Giovanni Cafagna

Photo by Giovanni Cafagna

Dario Palermo

The way Dario Palermo deals with formal structures and different expressive grounds, complexity and a peculiar taste for a refined primitive touch is really remarkable. All three compositions here have been conceived as a multi-perspective field of artistic investigation:

Dario PalermoRO-Premiére danse de la Lune, featuring a superb interpretation by percussionist Milo Tamez, is an astounding journey through the hybridization process of single percussive voices with electroacoustic treatments, emphasized frequencies, polyrhythmic mazes, generating a sonic organism in which ancestral and future sounds dance a beautiful interaction.

Performed by the world-wide prized Arditti String Quartet and by brilliant mezzo-soprano Catherine Carter, the composition Difference Engine delivers a single movement in which several areas fluidly melt in a complex process of metamorphosis. Tasty subtleness, extremely accurate attention to detail, together with a skilled overall compositional vision, build up a macro-object that clearly reveal Palermo’s attitude to complexity and generative compositional method. A great piece.

In TRANCE, biological and physical vocal characteristics, and pure singing vocal aspects, are subject-objects (material) of the work, paired in a constant fluctuant correspondence, which structure the shape and form of the work . The central role is played here by vocalist Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg whose journey in phonemes, polysyllables and physical vocal flexibilities find a perfect partner in real time electronic treatment.

Dario Palermo

Dario Palermo

Born in Milan in 1970, Dario Palermo studied with Giorgio Colombo Taccani, and Giovanni Verrando, and attending classes and lectures, with Pierre Boulez, Franco Donatoni, Emmanuel Nunes, and particularly with Gerard Grisey. During the early years of his career as performer, he played all over Europe in several ensembles, chamber groups and orchestras with, amongst others, Vaclav Neumann, Christa Ludwig, Thomas Allen, and Claudio Abbado. In 2003, he was selected by the Reading Panel of IRCAM, Institut de Recherché et Coordination Acoustique/Musique of Paris, Composition and Music Computer Technologies.

Between 1993 and 1999 he collaborated with Agon, centre for research and production via the use of electronic and computer technologies, with Luca Francesconi as Artistic Director. In Agon, he was involved in the programming and realization of concerts, installations, music-theatre works, and festivals.

Dario Palermo has composed works for forces varying from solo instruments to orchestra, largely involving the use of electroacoustic devices and new technologies. His compositions have been performed throughout Europe, Americas and Asia. He has received commissions from many organization, festival, ensembles and chamber groups. His most recent works have been premiered at Kings Place, London; Mediarte Festival, Monterrey; Sonorities festival, Belfast; Dance Umbrella Festival at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, London; Centro Nacional de las Aries, Mexico City; Gare du Nord, Basel; Visiones Sonoras Festival, Morelia; Venice Biennale.

Since 1995, he has taught composition, theory and analysis, electro acoustic composition and new technologies; between 1999 and 2002, he joined the Centro Tempo Reale, Florence, Italy, to work and accomplish Luciano Berio project for Basic Musical Literacy for children via the use of New Technologies. He has been invited to lecture in special courses, advanced seminars, and master classes in several conservatoires and universities worldwide.



On 26in May 2008, at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino presented for the very first time his 4 Adagi for flute and orchestra, played amid the Violin Concert ‘To the Memory of an Angel’ by Alban Berg and the Symphony no. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven, directed by Daniel Harding. The performance irritated part of the audience; their complaint was “that thing was not music”. Please note that the complaint wasn’t about taste, such as, “I didn’t like it” but rather a declaration about the very nature of the thing they were experiencing.

Without taking a stand in this dispute, what seems actually undeniable is that, with no mention of any personal taste, something is music and something else is not. I assume that the same irritated people in Milan were ready to concede that the Seventh Symphony was music, while, let’s say, the coughing coming from the audience at a certain point or the shout “ora basta!” to express their irritation was not.

Whenever we try to decide if a set of sounds, or noises, is music, we implicitly tend to assume that there is a domain of (sequences of) sounds that “count as” music, identifying a specific category of entities which is the “ontological region” of music, a section of things that exist in a certain way (even in the case that we, as a society or a community, consider them in a certain way). And whenever we apply this strategy, we divide the world in things and properties, guided by some intuition as to the essence that things must exhibit in order to be acknowledged as entities of a certain kinds. We draw an inventory of the universe, at least partially: when we use the concept ‘music’ we cut out a portion of reality, we point at a certain kind of thing and not another. It may be or may not be the case that the sounds, or better the sequences of sounds, that we are considering belong to the region “music”, but it seems prima facie non-controversial that what is to be recognized is the property (essence) of “being musical” that some sets of (sequences of) sounds possess and some others don’t. We arrange things in categories.

A less naive approach, that is more popular among recent philosophy of music, assume that what is to be unveiled or acknowledged is not the property of being musical of certain series of sounds but rather the presence of a certain structure that is relatively independent from the material that implements the structure itself. Rather than arranging things in categories, we discover abstract entities that are exhibited by means of a formal framework. A sort of artificial language that has its own morphosyntactic system, which is independent from the material sounds or signs used to physically represent the language itself. In principle, any sound or sequence of sounds could be used to express a certain structure and that seems the case of contemporary music that does not abstain from using any sound or noise, giving away the presumption that there are sounds or series of sounds that are as such musical. Such is the case of an amplified drum-set percussion or real-time electronics. And perhaps, TRANCE – Five Abstract Stations show this point in the best possible way.

Nonetheless, that might, still, be too easy. Dario Palermo requires the listener, especially in the case of The Difference Engine or RO – Premiere danse de la Lune, to give up this last comfort, challenging the rigidity of formal structures and even the visibility of such structures, at least in a first listening. But, and this is the paradoxical virtue of these compositions, he challenges the structures without rejecting them and, what is even more remarkable, without turning from rhythm. It is the rhythm that gives these compositions the taste of primitive, that merge with the rarefied abstraction that renders the conceptual formality of this artificial language.

So let’s reaffirm the metaphor of the artificial language. What is the special nature that makes this new thing we face ‘a language’ instead of a sequence of noises or signs on a piece of paper? And, without metaphors, what is the special nature, the particular essence or the specific structure, that makes this new thing we face ‘music’? Or maybe we might reverse the perspective. And, as for any language, instead of requiring that the objects we face satisfy our own expectations, in terms of essences or structures, in order to put it in the correct category, we could try to learn its grammar, in order to understand it. — Paolo Valore


RO – Premiere danse de la Lune

for amplified Drum-set percussion and real time electronics (2012)

The main considerations involved during the preparation and composition of RO concerned with the historical, and cultural background belonging to percussion instruments in general, both from acoustic and compositional perspectives. The sonic, choreographic, and conventional ritualistic role, routinely assigned to percussion instruments, is in the work removed in favour of a re-integration of the instruments to their own subjectivity, historical belongings, inheritance, traditions, and transcultural relations. An acoustical and compositional re-territorialisation and emancipation of percussion instruments, which focuses entirely on each single instrument involved in the composition, and its electroacoustic treatment. In RO, the instruments of the set are formally approached as different voices, connected to each other through different playing techniques, and compositionally organized as an ensemble, in which voices have their own specificity, and specific sonic results. As in most of my compositions, the electroacoustic treatment is structural to the work, defining its own evolution and overall compositional form. The prominent characteristic of such treatment is the hybridization process of single voices, of each instrument, emphasizing frequencies, polyrhythms, and timbre combinations and modifications. Instrument’s timbre becomes compositional entity, unfolding the work’s structure throughout a constant diversified treatment of voices, and generating at same instant its own form. In the work, the performer directly interacts with the timbral hybridization electroacoustic proceeding, controlling most of the process and interaction, carving and merging the acoustic and electroacoustic organisms.


The Difference Engine

for amplified String Quartet, Mezzo-Soprano and real time electronics (2010/2011)

The Difference Engine is a work composed in a single movement, one unique breath without breaks. It is distinctly divided into several zones, fluidly connected to each other in a process which intend to degrade its own progression and mutation, in favour of a -formal and sonic – perception metamorphosis of its own beginning and becoming. The formal and harmonic overall structure of the work is organized as a whole macro object, which integrates aesthetical and technical propositions within its same progression. This compositional method, and process, is intended to consider and interrelate any aspect of the work at the same quantitative and qualitative level, where each characteristic evolves in its relation to others, in a circular and vertical modality. The predominant topic of the work is a generative compositional method, which organises form, timbre and harmonic interrelations from the instrument’s physical and sonic properties. A compositional formal linearity, which aims to progressively juxtapose extremes of saturation, distortion, and liquescence, elements that become structural to the composition, delineating the whole sonic perception of the work.



Five abstract stations

for Male Voice and real time electronics (2009)

The conception and preparation of TRANCE has been integral part of the research towards different timbral interrelationships, and hybridisation processes develop during the last few years. The compositional specificity of this work resides, in fact, in those characteristics, focusing upon distinct peculiarities of human voice and the interpreter’s subjectivity. In TRANCE, biological and physical vocal characteristics, and pure singing vocal aspects, are subject-objects (material) of the work, paired in a constant fluctuant correspondence, which structure the shape and form of the work. This approach was intended to observe and consider vocal peculiarities and qualities as a whole, at a same level, to be then utilized as formant qualities of the work. In this perspective, the pure singing aspect is considered and treated qualitatively equal to others (similar and different) elements of the voice. The utilisation of phonemes, polysyllables, and physical vocal characteristics are preferred to the utilisation of specific text or lyrics. A mode which emphasizes the strong central role of the interpreter, who needs his creative capacities to contextualise and construct his own verbal, textual, and sonic territory.

Arditti String Quartet

Photo by Philippe Gontier


Irvine Arditti, Ashot Sarkissyan – Violin Ralf Ehlers – Viola Lucas Fels — Violoncello

The Arditti Quartet enjoys a worldwide reputation for their spirited and technically refined interpretations of contemporary and earlier 20th century music. Many hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble since its foundation by first violinist Irvine Arditti in 1974. Many of these works have left a permanent mark on 20th century repertoire and have given the Arditti Quartet a firm place in music history. World premieres of quartets by composers such as Ades, Andriessen, Aperghis, Birtwistle, Britten, Cage, Carter, Denisov, Dillon, Dufourt, Dusapin, Fedele, Ferneyhough, Francesconi, Gubaidulina, Guerrero, Harvey, Hosokawa, Kagel, Kurtag, Lachenmann, Ligeti, Maderna, Manoury, Nancarrow, Reynolds, Rihm, Scelsi, Sciarrino, Stockhausen and Xenakis and hundreds more show the wide range of music in the Arditti Quartet’s repertoire.

The ensemble believes that close collaboration with composers is vital to the process of interpreting modern music and therefore attempts to work with every composer it plays. The players’ commitment to educational work is indicated by their masterclasses and workshops for young performers and composers all over the world.

The Arditti Quartet’s extensive discography now features over 190 CDs, released as part of the ensemble’s series on Naive Montaigne, and has also recorded for more than 20 other CD labels, and together this CD collection is the most extensive available of quartet literature in the last 40 years, To name just a few, Berio, Cage, Carter, Lachenmann, Ligeti, Nono, Rihm, the complete chamber music of Xenakis and Stockhausen’s infamous Helicopter Quartet. Some of the most recent releases are with the French company Aeon, including for 2014, Ferneyhough’s complete quartets and trios.

Over the past 30 years, the ensemble has received many prizes for its work. They have won the Deutsche Schallplatten Preis several times and the Gramophone Award for the best recording of contemporary music in 1999 and 2002. In 2004, they were awarded the ‘Coup de Coeur’ prize by the Academie Charles Cros in France for their exceptional contribution to the dissemination of contemporary music. The prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize was awarded to them in 1999 for ‘lifetime achievement’ in music. They remain to this day, the only ensemble ever to receive it. The complete archive of the Arditti quartet is housed in the Sacher Foundation in Basel, Switzerland.

Catherine Carter


Mezzo Soprano Catherine Carter’s experience includes solo and chorus in the world premier of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht for Birmingham Opera Company; mezzo soloist in John Cage’s Aria with Merce Cunningham Dance Company at Theatre de la Ville in Paris; mezzo soloist in Dario Palermo’s Still Life IV at Sonorities Festival, Kings Place, London; mezzo soloist in John Cage MusiCircus at English National Opera and an on-going collaboration with the Langham Research Centre for performances at The Barbican; Kettle’s Yard New Music Series; Cafe Oto and The Borealis Festival in London. She has made recordings for Sub Rosa record label and the Stockhausen Foundation. Catherine is a founding member of TROUPE concerts as well as Opera Erratica’s core company, an ensemble that trains, creates and performs together, pioneering innovative opera presentation and creation techniques. She appeared with them in the new opera Triptych at Spitalfields Festival 2014.


Photo by Irene Cuesta Mayor


Milo Tamez work has been evolved towards an ongoing research on percussiveness as a means of the kinestesic-eukinetic human experience. Born in an artistic family in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, his early experiencing of the Western 20th Century Arts created a profound impression and imprint deeply on his sensibility. At thirteen years old he began on classical orchestral percussion studies, and since his early 20’s he became a self-taught drummer . deeply oriented and influenced by the Afro-American avant-garde jazz percussionists, an art form that he promptly became to integrate on his own with his studies of major solo percussion works by 20th Century composers.

In 2001 he begun to develop his solo project SchlagArt- Arte Percusivo Integral Libre, as a platform for exploring percussive art in a particular open multidirectional way, and his major concentration and focus has been towards the exploration and development of a new percussive poetics as an ongoing creative process, presenting new original works for solo extended-prepared drum set as well as his extensive collaborations with composers who prepare new works especially for him. In 2010, a national calling for new works was opened under the name of Transicion-Transmision: Nuevas Dimensiones de la Bateria del Siglo XXI, in collaboration with CMMAS in Morelia, Mexico.

After five years living among the woods in Los Altos de Chiapas, close to nature, his observation and study of the present moment in which the human being function as an interfering-connective factor in a given time-space continuity-discontinuity, natural events and phenomena on which evolving socio-cultural net is transforming itself, has taken him to the conception of his last two original compositions Oxyoquet, piezas en cadencia i-xii and Noemas. The first consisting of twelve naturalistic factual probability pieces of “music devoted for self reflection on our specie and Nature species on Earth”, for solo extended-prepared drum set, live electronics, fixed elcectroacustic sound score and video art. And the second consisting of seven works which evolves from the idea of external-internal forces of movement and activity of sound gesture, and the treatment of micro timbre and sub-harmonics potentialities occurring silently as an organic-inorganic percussive response in resonating bodies.

Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg

Photo by Rolf Schöllkopf


Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg has developed, as autodidact, vocal improvisation and voice extended techniques, while practically exploring improvised music and focusing on his voice, since 1996. He coined the word phonoetry (phonesie in French), which describes the poesie sonore (sonic poetry) particularly of his solo voice performance ORYNX, released in the CD Orynx — Phonesie (Inaudible 003).

Jean-Michel solo performances and recitals have been presented in London, Lille, Nitra, Liege, Madrid, Brno, Ghent, Budapest, Rotterdam, Paris, Provence, Milan, Bologna, Bah and Brussels, as well as in Hungary, Czekia, Slovakia. With his almost three octaves, falsettos, harmonics, deep throat singing, yodels, fast articulation, mouth noises, invented languages and bodily expression, Jean Michel performances encompass a wide range music languages, extending to interactive free improvisation.

His most recognized collaborations include the trio Sureau, with Jean Demey and Kris Vanderstraeten, Mouth Wind with Lawrence Casserley and legendary violinist Phil Wachsmann. Jean-Michel has toured extensively with musicians such as John Russell, Gianni Mimmo, Paul Dunmall and in duos with Lawrence Casserley, Sabu Toyozumi, Audrey Lauro and Adam Bohman. With Katalin Ladik, Nils Gerold, Mano Kinze, Ove Volquartz, Pascal Marzan, Mick Beck, Jacques Foschia, Guy Strale, Marjolaine Charbin, Ute Wassermann, Yvon Bayer, Phil Minton. He has performed in Hungary with / Belong to the Band (Zsolt SOres, Oli Mayne, Adam Bohman) in 2010 and 2013. In 2012, he acted as his own singer persona in the awarded cult movie Berberian Sound Studio, directed by Peter Strickland.

Jean-Michel has an ample discography of more than fifteen CDs releases, in solo recordings, and collaborating with several international musicians: Sureau, The Mercelis Concert, Quelles bouches voleront en eclats, No Room For Doubt, A Glottal Allowance, amongst others. Since 1984, Jean-Michel has also collaborated with Inaudible association in Brussels, organizing workshops and more than 170 concerts, and writing essays and articles about singing and improvising.


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