Rome, Sept. 25th 2009
Roberto Deiana’s house
We gathered at Roberto’s at different times: Adriano Clera, Roberto Duse, Michele Agazzi and Alessandro Papa, arrived late last night;
R. Deiana: “Shopping in different places, the usual doubts: shall I take this? Or that? Will it be too much? Not enough? Then after dinner they begin to arrive, it feels like a long time since we met last, I collect them in 2 times; meeting with Crafties has its own flavour…”
I got there around 11:00 a.m., then Filippo Guerini and Massimo Di Giacomo arrived just in time for lunch.
After a while Silence visits: I experience it as a gift, this is clearer to me than in many other occasions…
We had our inaugural meeting, as planned, at 15:00; we stated our aim for the weekend;
Alessandro Papa: “As soon as I declared my aim (to keep a constant and qualitative attention during the performance) I realize that quite some time has gone since the last time I had an aim within a GC context and that this is something concrete and really measurable. I reckon this is a little evolutional step in terms of decision making.”
My aim is to allow Circle Work, the way we know it and understand it, to take place (this mainly inspired by the injunction “Circulating must be our second nature”), despite the natural tendency to get completely catalyzed/polarized into repertoire and performance preparation; then I shared with them my take of what is happening at GCHQ level, the need for us to get in tune with it, and so on.
15:30 – We encircle with guitars
Adriano: “As Al asks to bring part of our attention to the left hand, I can’t punctually describe what happens, it just feels like coming back home.”
I assign a note each; 8 people in the Circle so we could play a complete octave in C Maj. With those notes we practiced various forms of Circulations:
Basic form – to the right – left – with return – to the right plus 1 – minus 1
Variegated form – to the right 4 minus 1
Adriano: “As I’m preparing coffee for tea break I can hear the team practicing a rhythmic circulation, and in a moment I realize that what we can learn through circulations is limitless.”
Filippo: “It seems like the technique of Circulation lights up a spot on our personal weaknesses: to me, for instance, when we go into variations like minus one, skip one, it gets really hard, while with other forms, easier for me, I can see others having troubles…”
After that I briefly introduce the C whole tone scale and the free form circulation; we begin; Music walks in…
R. Duse: “The free circulation has been for me a key point for the whole project as it brings new possibilities, of which the main one resides in listening with attention.”
Michele: “That was a very useful exercise to find the connection with the other members of the group; it is strong as it takes you inevitably to stop thinking and so therefore to perceive the surroundings at a different level, the people, the notes, the execution…”
After a break for tea time we’re back with guitars.
17:30 – Massimo won’t be part of the performance team so I go with him in another room to guide
him through the exercises posted on the AAD board while Adriano leads the rehearsals for the performance on Sunday;
Massimo: “Individual work with elements of the Circle is good for me to have a look back to my hands position and the way I hold the guitar, it’s great work. Going through the AAD material it’s another opportunity, looking at my real capacity; I notice I’m treated with patience and no judgement, I become aware that it’s going to be a very long way, but still it is possible.”
Once I’m sure that Massimo has enough material to practice, I join the others. Adriano takes us through the list to see where we are: quite few pieces are dropped as they’re not even close to an acceptable standard. The process goes on until 19:30 when dinner was served.
19:30 – Dinner (rice with peppers prepared by Massimo).
21:00 – We’re back with guitars to play once through the pieces which were left from the list.
22:00 – Meeting without guitars:
That was formally called to discuss and plan the next future, including the possible foundation of a “no profit association”. We sit around the table, I introduce the subject, very soon we get to look at individual aims and wishes, and to the actual need of such an Association to be brought to existence. After a while we get polarized in 2 groups: the enthusiasts finding arguments to convince the sceptical…
At midnight I leave and drive home.
Rome, Sept. 26th 2009
Roberto Deiana’s house
I get to the door and ring the bell at 07:25, everything and everybody is ready.
07:30 – Sitting
08:15 – Breakfast:
Muesli is not there, just cornflakes, but there are very nice cookies and good coffee.
09:00 – Warm up.
Right hand – A string (open) – quarter notes – eight notes – then we play 3 note on the A string followed by 3 on the E string – then 3 on D, 3 on A, and 3 on E – then 2 notes each string. We repeat the whole thing, firstly in eight triplets, and then in sixteen notes.
Left hand (led by Filippo): 2 fingers combinations on 2 strings in endurance fashion.
After that I present an introductory exercise for Fracture which Leo showed to me in S.C. last July.
10:00 – Break
10:15 – As we all applied to the AAD course, we dedicate this session to the AAD material.
Displacements with retrogrades in G-seven-note-scale, to make sure the exercise is clear in principle to everybody. Then the beginnings of the 3 Bach suites.
11:00 – Break
11:15 – Massimo leave the Circle to do personal practice on the Bach pieces.
In the meanwhile we look at the 3 pieces arranged with circulations: “Are You Abel?”, after quite few attempts is dropped; “Fireplace” and “Hope” can potentially work.
12:00 – Break
12:15 – Lunch preparation (by R. Duse & Massimo) – personal practice and small group work.
The Quails (Al, Adriano, Filippo) have a first look at their material and decide to perform “Airs à faire fuir I” by Satie, for lunch.
13:00 – Lunch.
Performance by The Quails – the piece is not yet there.
Pasta with zucchini and salad are served.
Alessandro Papa: “I notice a certain degree of superficiality in dealing with kitchen work (necessary talking only, first of all), roles are not enough defined, as well as aspects like completion, who’s doing what and why. Nevertheless the food is good and in time. Maybe as KC I could do something about it…”
I ask for comments and observations; as I pronounce the words I notice a resistance in my emotional sphere, I think it’s a pattern, an automatic reaction to escape the risk of playing my role (the guy in charge) in a fixed and stiff way by repeating R.’s words just like a parrot.
I know it was a reaction because I didn’t know exactly why I was asking for comments and observations; it only became clear after few minutes when I could see people talking more intentionally and about a specific matter: my request saved us from the kind of energy dispersion due to unfocused chatting which we were about to go for…
14:30 – Adriano in charge again for this section dedicated to the repertoire.
15:15 – Circle work continues.
I suggest to take the intro of Calliope, set the metronome to a slow tempo (63 bpm), and going around the Circle playing in turn our part, solo: it’s a shocking experience, at least for me, almost nobody can actually play his part all the way through. I suggest to find some time in the next 18 hours to look at it in our personal practice…
I call again the free-form-circulation in C whole tone: it might be that this particular form has more power of attracting music, although I experience a kind of resistance to accept the only rule/limitation of this form of circulation: “if two or more people strike a note simultaneously, the circulation begins again”, I wonder why…
16:00 – Tea time
I feel very dizzy and tired: the Middle is killing me…
17:00 – We return to the Circle with guitars, Massimo joins us.
A Harmonic minor – circulating in basic form to the right; we stop quite soon as a look at the notes of the scale is needed. In order to observe the act of circulating as free as possible from the limitations brought in by the lack of familiarity with a given scale, I turn the instruction to “any note of your choice”. After few rounds the flow gets troubled again; I feel that’s the bone, that’s what and who we are.
Massimo: “Playing in the Circle has always an impact on my motion centre, I mean the fingers of my right hand, they begin shaking, out of control; I bring my attention to them, something changes, the fingers stop shaking, all this comes with a sense of inner calm. I can circulate keeping my head and eyes up, not having to look at the fretboard…”
I decide to go back to C Maj. given note to practice circulating with a pulse, eight notes to begin with; being 8 players I asked player number 1,3,5,7 to play their note on the down beat at the right time, then the up-beat-players come in one at a time; we did the same but in sixteen note where only 2 players (1 and 5) are on the metronome beat.
After a while, switching players on and off, Music takes over again.
Adriano: “Again a rhythmic circulation, this time it naturally goes into a rhythmic improvisation: I have fun, in a new way…”
18:00 – Break
18:15 – Dinner preparation – Personal/small groups practice
The Quails decide to stay with just 2 pieces they feel more comfortable with, for tomorrow’s performance.
19:30 – Dinner
R. Deiana & A. Papa prepared mushrooms & cheese omelettes.
21:30 – Run through.
Despite the fact that we had to drop several pieces from our original list, we still have more than 45 minutes of material, which is more than enough for tomorrow.
22:30 – Meeting without guitars to continue the last night discussion about our next steps.
I feel we must be careful not to fall into those kind of endless discussions which, while demanding quite some energy and time, normally take nowhere…
I leave at about midnight, to meet them again tomorrow morning at 10:00 directly at the theatre
Rome, Sept. 27th 2009
Teatro S. Genesio
10:00 – I get to the theatre.
I had my sitting & breakfast by myself at home; I was referred later that during breakfast they had some more “ideas-exchanging” and that they got to some kind of agreement about the association, our identity as a group and our aim for the next future.
I’m the first to get there, I find there the guy in charge of the place plus 2 assistants; they are setting up the stage as our performance in the afternoon is an extra, for a company is doing their play on that stage every evening.
The whole thing about this performance was to respond to an Antonio’s call to let our world and the world of “physical/mental/social/troubled people aid” (to which he belongs and works for), to meet. He invited people (including families and therapists) from all different “cooperatives” acting in different ways in that field. R. Deiana found and got the place for a good deal so here we are: offering a free performance for invited people but in a pretty formal situation with stage, P.A., monitors, lighting…
I saw this process happening during the last weeks, and allowed it to happen; now in this very moment, I acknowledge it was a mistake, therefore something to learn from: the right thing for us, at least at the moment, would be giving acoustic and informal performances; having to deal with amplification, lighting and so on, brings quite some extra and unnecessary stress to the whole team, while we should use our available resources for our work, providing also a more direct contact with the audience.
Now I should set an alarm just before the next project and read back these notes as I might forget…”
10:30 – Everybody is here, we set up cables, D.I.s etc.
The plan is that Massimo will take Papa’s place in the horseshoe playing his guitar, while he’s behind the mixer doing line & sound check; then, when everything is set, Massimo will be behind the desk; being his first time, we hope all he’ll have to do will be lines on-lines off, lights on-lights off. I stick “The 6 Principle Of the Performance Event” on the door of the green room…
13:00 – We’re off for lunch.
Considering the help with the kitchen and the house during the past two days, Massimo will very likely win the “hero contest” for this project, as he’s the only one of us who’s performance will be off stage, but at least as demanding as it’ll be for us…
We have a pizza at a diner near the theatre; during the meal we have our final words about practicalities, agenda and so on; so to make our final meeting back stage after the performance, as brief as possible.
14:30 – Back to the theatre, Antonio is there waiting for us, we hug each other.
We then move to the green room to change clothes, tune, collect ourselves, encircle, go through the set list, asking for help…
15:30 – We walk on stage.
The snake is slightly too lose. My fault, for when we went for the more practical way to walk in letting Filippo leading us, I forgot to warn him to be most aware of people walking behind him, so probably he went a bit too fast.
Massimo Di Giacomo on: sound, lights, security.
The house is completely dark and, although we did our best to arrange the lights according to our needs (they were already set for the night show and we couldn’t really move them), are not helping; I can’t see Massimo either… Then, from far away, the profile of a waving arm tells me that Massimo is there; relief, confidence, I play the first note with intention…
The performance unfolds itself with ups and downs; the (invisible) audience was supportive and attentive, maybe with a tendency of beginning the applause slightly too soon, but all in all a very good one, specially if we consider that, with no announcement, not even a single flash light went off during the whole show: miraculous! Maybe Antonio or Massimo warned people before? I don’t know.
The set list:
Circulation (any note of your choice)
Starving Moon (quintet)
Persian Waltz (trio)
Se Solo Sapessi (quartet)
Free Circulation in C whole tone
The Construktion Of Light (trio)
Circulation A Harmonic minor (with thumb)
The Eye Of The Needle
Massimo has been impeccable, mistakes were made by the players (including me, of course) of different category and quality; but the overall sense is that we did a honourable job, and that was mainly because we received a lot of help.
Alessandro Papa: The swap between the role of soundman during the sound check and the one of performer always takes me out of balance, but this time it reveals something deeper connected with my professional life. Despite of this I can say my aim has been accomplished.”
R. Deiana: “It’s obvious that I like to perform: hands ok, feeling the pulse… Everything fine. For the first time my mediocrity pushes me and clarify what I need to do to improve, instead of undermine my wish to play.”
R. Duse: “The warmth of the audience is forgiveness for our many mistakes.”
Filippo: “During the performance I turned my eyes on Massimo: it was just great to see him totally present, more than I was, as I caught myself distracted by silly thoughts probably driven by egocentrism…”
After the anchors we walk off stage, encircle, stay with it for a while, wait for a while for Massimo to join us, then I declare the project completed.
Massimo Di Giacomo: “As I get instructed about what to do during the performance, I get convinced that I can do it, but I didn’t take into account the overwhelming power the performance itself might have had on me: the feeling of too much energy coming from the stage stayed with me all the way through, being at time uncomfortable as it was beyond my control while I had to keep my attention focused on what I had to do. In the end I managed, but I’m still filled with energy as I pack up and walk outside the theatre…”
We’ll have the time to digest the experience, meanwhile, the idea of forming a formal Association is postponed to when and if we’ll all recognize the necessity for it; on the other hand we set two more weekends before the course in Sassoferrato next March, and we do have a clearer sense of direction about our activities.
Everybody, except R. Deiana and me, will catch a train soon…