Supplement
actueel programma-overzicht

onderwerp
Robert Iolini: Malta: In-Land
uitzending
10 februari 2002 - Radio 4 - 22.00-01.00 uur


A sonic journey into world of Maltese ghana.

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Robert Iolini began composing works specifically for the radio medium in 1994 when he was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s audio arts program The Listening Room to compose and produce the radiophonic opera Vanunu. A large scale work that focuses on the events that lead to the imprisonment of Israeli Mordechai Vanunu who revealed to the world Israel’s secret nuclear weapons manufacturing facility at Dimona.

Robert’s many works for radio continue to deal with socio-political and ethical issues. His prize winning Hong Kong –City in between musicalizes interviews and soundscapes to document the dislocation and uncertainty of the people of Hong Kong at the time of the handover. Marking Time casts a critical and humorous eye at western society’s obsession with manifesting apocalyptic scenarios.

Malta: In-Land is Robert’s most recent radiophonic composition, commissioned by the Dutch broadcaster NPS for their program Supplement. The work is Robert’s personal response to ghana (pronounced ‘ahnna’) - the living folkmusic practice of the Maltese. For this project Robert travelled from Australia to his mother’s homeland – the island of Malta – to record ghana practitioners, aficionados, commentators and environments.

While in Malta he encountered a rich multilayered society with ‘deep historical roots that possibly go back to Neolithic times’.  Robert observed that “where-ever I looked contradictory elements seem to pervade many aspects of Maltese society and culture. Malta is an island yet most towns are situated inland away for the coast; rabbit is the national dish as opposed to fish; in every town the simple, unpainted, unadorned flat topped Arabic influenced buildings are dwarfed by huge domed Christian churches with richly ornate interiors; the Arabic influenced Maltese language is written in Roman script. Contrary elements can also be found in ghana. Arabic modal and European tonal musical elements intermix freely as do diatonic and chromatic elements. In fact in spirtu pront the most popular and developed form of ghana, an essential part of the form is that the singers contradict and argue with one another”.

Robert’s initial brief for this project was to create a composition that explored ghana’s relationship to Maltese society, past, present and future. He travelled extensively in Malta and with the help and guidance of anthropologist George Misfud-Chircop he was able to record interviews and performances by some of the most highly regarded practitioners of ghana. These recordings are the basis of Malta: In-Land. He explains some of the challenges of composing a ‘piece of music’ from such source material.

“After my inspiring experiences of ghana I was left with a sense of responsibility, to the people who generously shared their music and knowledge with me, to spread the word about this unique music practice. Fulfilling such a brief necessitated a compositional process whereby you take on a multidisciplinary role as composer, journalist, sound ecologist, writer and producer. I used field recordings, soundscapes, commentaries and my own original music/sounds for raw materials with which I began composing. The composition is structured in sections, each one focussing on a particular area of ghana. The musical sections, which I composed, are all derived from traditional ghana motives and melodies. A characteristic of ghana and most folk music is ‘modularity’. Generic musical phrases, motifs etc are interpreted, performed and repeated over successive generations. In the case of ghana these ‘modules’ have remained almost unchanged. Throughout Malta: In-Land I explore this phenomenon by juxtaposing and layering autonomous performances to create new, sometimes fragile musical and textual relationships.

Creating a work that is both informative and musical yet not pure documentary obviously poses complex problems regarding content, structure and form. Balancing musical structures with actual documentary material and soundscapes is a challenging task”.

Spirtu Pront

Transcript

Credits

Playlist

Australia Council for the ArtsThis project has been assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Deze Supplement wordt gemaakt door Michael Fahres.