Compositions by Felipe Otondo    

Night Study No. 1 (2013)

'Our bike is the colour of the night.
Our bike is a black donkey dawning
Through lands of Curiosity.'

                        (Roberto Bolaño)

The idea behind this work stems from a poem by Roberto Bolaño describing a night motorcycle journey across the Mexican desert. The piece explores the nocturnal sonic landscape of urban and rural locations and is structured as a sonic journey exploring real and imaginary soundscapes related to various stages of the trip. The work was composed mostly using field recordings captured in rural public roads in the North West of England and synthesized rhythmic sequences generated using gamelan samples. This piece was composed at the Visby Centre for Composers in Gotland, Sweden.

 

 

Irama (2012)

In Javanese gamelan music 'irama' has the general meaning of time interval between two successive sounds or actions. The term can also be used to refer to temporal relationships between any of the subdividing parts in gamelan performance as well as tempo in general. This piece explores notions of pulse and microrhythmic developments using as timbral framework a set of recordings of a Javanese gamelan orchestra done at the University of York in England. The work is inspired on various temporal and timbral relationships between subdividing parts of gamelan music and structured as an aural journey through a rich palette of timbres that contribute to the unique overall sound quality of the gamelan.

listen to a sample of this piece

 

Teocalli (2011)

This piece is roughly inspired by the short story The night face up by Julio Cortázar in which a man driving a motorbike is involved in an accident and ends up in the hospital. In the middle of his hazy fever, he dreams he is a fugitive trying to hide from the Aztec Indians, who are active in their annual man hunt for the ritual human sacrifice. The short story alternates between the hazy environment of the hospital and the intense environment of the jungle and the sacrifice temple 'Teocalli'. The composition borrows from the story the idea of parallel narrative structures using as source material various percussion rhythms recorded in the streets of Mexico City, field recordings and interviews with Zapoteco Indians in various locations in Mexico. This work was conceived and composed while working as a composer in residence at the Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden. The piece is dedicated to Xicotencatl Martinez-Ruiz and all the Mexican friends that helped me to collect the field recordings and interviews for this piece.

listen to a sample of this piece

 

Sarnath (2010)

This piece was created as part of the project The Buddha’s Footprint using field recordings from Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. The field recordings, made by Francis Booth, include bells, drums and chants from the places where the Buddha lived and taught. The composition explores the use of textures and rhythmic passages to create different types of sonic environments linked to intense and subtle states of mind experienced through meditation practice.

 

 

 

Pacífico (2009-10)

This piece was developed as a collaboration with the Chilean poet Raúl Zurita who provided me with a poem that he regularly reads in poetry recitals. I then re-arranged parts of the text and asked the Chilean singer Cecilia García-Gracia to record it using different types of intonations and reading styles. The piece aims to capture the musicality of the Spanish spoken in Chile by concentrating on particular aspects of the text like the use of open vowels and specific consonant letters. The piece is structured based on rhythmic and phonetic aspects of the poem that are translated into percussive and tonal textures using a dreamlike background of natural and synthesised sea sounds.

This work is dedicated to the composer Roger Marsh.

 

 

 

Ciguri (2008)

This composition was developed from part of the music of the dance theatre piece To have done with the judgment of Artaud by Base Theatre for the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The composition is inspired in the writings of Antonin Artaud among the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico and is structured as different states of intensity stemming from the ritual of the peyote. The piece explores the inharmonic timbral character of different types of bell sounds blended and contrasted in an expanding and contracting time framework that varies from rhythms to textures of irregular sounds.

listen to a sample of this piece

 

 

Showtime! (2007)

This piece, inspired in and composed using excerpts from the book Three trapped tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante , is an attempt to develop the idea of an imaginary show in the Tropicana cabaret with a bilingual master of ceremonies presenting a rather unusual act. The sections in the piece are related to different rhythms of salsa, mambo, jazz, and chachachá, which are developed using mostly three instruments (trumpet, double-bass and trombone) as a basis for timbral and rhythmic developments.

This piece was composed in the Electronic studios of the Music Department of the University of York with the help of the members of the University Jazz Orchestra.

 

 

Clangor (2006)


This piece, made entirely with sounds originated from recordings of the gamelan, has been an attempt to capture some of the body and clarity of the sound of the gamelan orchestra in its soft and loud ensemble. The idea has been to explore the tonal and percussive character of the gamelan using changes in tempi to create a transition from long sounds heard as timbral tonal textures into rhythms and vice-versa. Inspired by some ideas borrowed from Javanese music, the piece evolves in an expanding cycle. This piece was composed for the 25th anniversary of gamelan Sekar Petak at the University of York and is dedicated to its enthusiastic founder Neil Sorrell.

 

 

 

Plastiches (2005) 5.1 surround


This piece started as a study of different strategies for approaching space. The piece is inspired in a comical evolution of some spatial pastiches with a point of departure in transformations of plastic objects to create timbral and spatial allusions. The whole piece is composed using plastic sounds and foams recorded in an anechoic chamber (no reverberation). The structure of the piece consists of two parts, always maintaining a spatial and a timbral counterpoint between the sounds of plastics and foams. The first part of the piece is a naked exposition of extreme dry impulsive plastic sounds in a constant counterpoint with grainy sounds of foams, while the second part is a metaphor of the first where space and time are expanded with transformations and recounts from the first part.

 

 

Zapping Zappa (2004)
 
This piece was conceived as humoristic tribute to the composer and musician Frank Zappa. Using different types of samples from the music of Frank Zappa I built an imaginary zapping through different musical states inspired in Zappa’s electronic, instrumental, theatre and rock music. Parallel to the evolution of the zapping in the piece there is an evolution in terms of timbral rhythmic layers that evolve gradually changing in sonorities from one section to another following a characteristic  percussive pattern.

listen to this piece

 

Found objects (2003)
 
This piece has been a first attempt to explore the possibilities of sounds produced by metal objects. By using electronic transformations of different continuous and impulsive sounds recorded anechoically the aim was to create transitions from impulsive to continuous, and from continuous to impulsive sounds, with timbre and spatialisation as agents of integration. The role of mobility of sound in space was studied in connection with the type of sounds used, assuming movement as an extension of the intrinsic qualities of continuous and impulsive sounds.

 

 
Constellations (2003)
 
This piece is a study of the timbre of different brass instruments and the blending of musical sounds. The musical structure is constructed based on 4 small timbre constellations of brass instruments: (1) trumpet, tenor and alto sax, (2) French horn, (3) bass and tenor trombone, and  (4) piccolo trumpet and tuba. The original sounds of the instruments  have been combined with the use of the digital convolution in order to  preserve their dynamic articulation and transform their sound colour in  different combinations. The timbre has been used in the piece as and  agent of integration and structural continuum.
 
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