Monday, March 20, 2006

Paying the rent in Arezzo - Save the Waves

Trying to find a possibility to perform in Italy can be rather annoying. Programmers answer. "yes nice, fully booked, contact us again when you're around," and never answer again once you're around. It's a kind of natural selection. Those who answered offered me a warm welcome.

Alessandro in Arezzo belongs to the association Fromscratch. He used to organise concerts in the centre of Arezzo. But then he couldn't afford the rent anymore ( 300 euro a month) and had to move to another place. Though this new concert hall is a cozy 16 square meters in a bookshop, it suffers from a psychological beyond-the-border complex: it is at the other side of the train station, where the new town is built.

Arezzo is one of those towns in Tuscany that offer the architectural wonders of the humanist era. It is well worth visiting. The marvelous view on Tuscan countryside, and the immaculate main square, that looks like a postcard on real life scale offer all the touristic cliche's you can wish for.
In summer it attracts thousands of music fans, who come to visit the Arezzo Wave - festival, one of the most important festivals of alternative mainstream music.

My concert attracted a bit of rain and eight people. One of them had driven 60 kilometers from Florence. I played and after the concert I had a long talk, because my sounds had provoked some curiosity.

But one little question kept singing in my mind. What if fromScratch had the 300 euro to pay the rent. Would a central place offer more possibility to attract people. And could an organisation that organizes concerts with musicians that are so marginalised that they hardly can be defined as musicians, do something to improve the situation if they received a little support?

I decided to write to the town council and to Arezzowave as well:

"Dear Ms Fabrini, Dear Mr. Valenti,

The importance of Arezzowave to music is indisputable. I appreciate very much that Arezzowave recognizes its responsibility, and, as the statutes say, is willing to support other projects.

I would like to present the association fromScratch to you. They organise concerts from the very marginality of experimental music in Arezzo. It is music that you won't hear in the radio, nor read about in the newspaper. Maybe it is no music at all, but a kind of research towards new kinds of expression that uses sound as its main material.

People who come to such concerts are soundicians themselves, or know of it by word of mouth. I wonder if a support from the council and/or Arezzowave can improve the situation. One can think of fringe events during the Arezzowave-days. But I am sure Alessandro of fromscratch can come up with more ideas.

Maybe it is an idea to visit one of the concerts that he organizes at the libreria leggere, viale Cittadini, 21. If you do, the 5 euro entrance will help the performer to cover his travel expenses. From a financial point of view, we are on that level.

Thanks for your attention,

This letter will also be published on my blog,
If you feel like it you can react,
and I will add your words to this letter,
no matter what the content will be like,

yours sincerely,

Rinus van Alebeek"

Association fromScratch:


Friday, March 17, 2006

Help from Above (five) - Help is on its Way / broadcast your podcast

Another month and I will be in Amsterdam. A month is a misleading unity. In this century the biggest revolution will abolish time. Einsteinian notion will become common knowledge: there is only space. Instead of a calendar we will read coordinates. These coordinates will tell us the exact position in the galaxies. These coordinates will change all the time: Everyone on earth will live in the notion that the planet is moving like a giant spaceship.

Anticipating I can state that my kitchen was a control room. The daily messages arrived from a studio in Amsterdam. They communicated that the city was moving into my orbit. Or maybe the other way round.

So far science-fiction, back to radio. On Wednesday Vpro-radio transmits Café Sonore at 23.00. Café Sonore commissions sound artists to compose a radiophonic work. Then they play it life in the studio in what they call a world premiere. Good! One hour of some kind of music out of 168 hours that go into a week. Translate this to night life and start walking.

At the beginning of this month a great friend of mine called from Amsterdam. He tries to find some concerts for me over there. Among a novel full of other stories he also offered me the one that send my bird's eye to the inner city of Amsterdam, in search of that 1 venue in 168 with an untraceable name, where I might end up performing.

A week later, in the same month, a mail by Patrick Murmer reached me. Patrick does sounds, but he also presents Framework on ResonanceFM, the local London radio. He got offered extra time by the Resonance people, and asked his friends and colleagues to help him out. Within a week he got positive reactions. Each one will contribute with 57 minutes of field recording based compositions. The schedule of the framework friends shows reaches way into next year, 2007.

Curiosity is growing. And communication techniques are improving. What Patrick Murmer can do on a local scale, an organisation can do on a larger scale. Which makes me wonder.

EBU stands for European Broadcasting Union. They exist since 1950, go to their website and learn that the main focus is on collaboration. A department of the EBU is the Ars acustica. Radio makers from diverse countries unite and organise events. There doesn't exists something like EBU 1, EBU 2 EBU 3 etcetera. You won't find EBU programmes on your FM- radio.
(This is not a critic to EBU. It is just that with a name like that, one can almost expect that it's only a matter of time and europewide radio will be a fact)

Which makes me wonder. The European Community (E.C) is called Europe, to make thing easier. Europe, though, is a piece of land that stretches from Ireland to Cecenia and from Finland to Portugal.

Radio Europe on your radio. Imagine a call like that one of Patrick that goes out to all the countries of Europe. Radio Europe on your radio. Imagine thousands of contributors a year who submit one hour of 'some kind of music, presented in their language; the kind of music that ars acustica programmes broadcast. Imagine all those programmes on your pocket radio, wherever you are in Europe, no matter what time of day.

Maybe it is not possible technically spoken. Maybe some team is already working on this idea:to be able to listen to the same radio in Sofia or Stockholm, in Tallinn or Porto, in Tbilisi or on Creta, a radio with my kind of music, that now is presented like a sermon on some obscure hour of the day.I send this question out to ars acustica: Do they know if some organisation is already working on this idea. Or, does it already exist, and I missed something?

Let's write something statesman like. In a period of international tensions, curiosity could lead to the understanding of cultures and other people's habits. And such understanding is a first step - but an important one - to peace and maybe it will lead also to getting a bit more then 12 euro after a concert.

A few weeks later I found this mail in my mailbox: it was not send to me in person, but to the mailinglist I'm subscribed to.


"BYP offers podcasters the chance to transmit their podcasts on FM. BYP
units are handmade FM transmitters made by BYP following the circuit
design of micro radio pioneer Tetsuo Kogawa. By connecting a BYP unit
to your computer or mp3 player podcasts can be transmitted on FM to
your neighbourhood.BYP is an idea and a technology. The idea is to
allow people to hear podcasts without the need for expensive equipment
or fast internet connections. The technology is the BYP transmitter. By
using a BYP transmitter podcasts can be broadcast on FM for anyone to
hear using a simple radio tuner. BYPs strategy is to distribute these
units for free to podcasters so they can extend their practice,
reaching beyond the net and into local radio space.

To enable this BYP has designed several self contained transmitting
units that are capable of broadcasting in a radius of about 100 meters.
Transmitting on FM with these is as easy as plugging them into an audio
out of a computer or MP3 player. The units are designed by Amsterdam
artist Lotte Meijer to be robust and portable. Fitting easily in your
pocket and powered by standard batteries BYP can be used at home or as
a mobile broadcast unit"

a project by Lotte Meijer

Ars Acustica:

Café Sonore:

Patrick Murmer and Radio Framework:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Help from above (four) - The Sound of Central Heating

My father listens to the same radio for more then forty years now; I mean the object, not the programme. The radio is a lampenradio. the Dutch gave it this name, not because 'lampen' means 'bulbs', but because of the short sausage shaped light bulbs in the body of the radio. The frequency scale is a piece of glass with the names of cities printed on it. There were quite a lot, of which I remember only one.

Not very long ago I saw the name Beromünster again. It was written on a blue shield, that stood next to the road. I was in a car, drove past it very fast, and had the strange sensation, that I didn't really see what I saw. And then it was gone.

My father worked in the coalmines. From 1954 onwards my parents house was heated by carbon. It is a becoming warmth with a comforting smell. Last year my parents changed to central heating. The radio is still there, alone now.

In far away Italy where I have chosen to lead a temporarily life as an arms smuggler - I sell to the Ethiopians - comfort comes from friends, phone calls and clothes, but, to my amazement, also from Dutch radio. My existence gets shaped into that of an exile, but that's okay by me. My sonic world is far away from what I hear between seven PM. and zero.I guess the programmes from Dutch radio are broadcasted one hundred years ago. The voices finally return to earth thanks to a dead satellite that has come to life again.

Maybe everything that reaches us via mail, radio or television is sent off very long ago, before I, you or our parents were even born. One day I will go to Beromünster to find out.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Help from above (three) - Local Radio

In the seventies and eighties some parts of Europe were flooded by illegal radio stations, so called pirates, that operated on a very local scale, and soon became very popular. In Germany the anti - culture became a sub - culture thanks to a decision on governmental level. Bürger radio was founded, citizen's radio.
Bürger radio makers have little obligations and a lot of freedom. they are obliged to transmit 'news' and give information about the region. they are free on an editorial level.

Das Programm - The Programme - of Radio flora looks like a translation of demographic facts. There are transmissions in fourteen different languages, programmes on local, national and international items; there are interviews, portraits and music from every angle.
Radio Flora in Hannover looks also like an ongoing discussion on the exact meaning of democracy. Maybe one of their best features is the 'offene Sendeplatz' - the space that is open to contributions from listeners. somebody who feels like making a programme can send it in.

Now that the podcasts start to drip from the computer screen, it can't be but a matter of time and (local) radio will undergo a change. The forum of radio Resonancefm in London gives an indication of this change, though they restrict entries to their own programmes, as far as I have understood from their webinformation.

To the soundicians and the no-budgeteers a local radio turned into a beehive offers an excellent opportunity to introduce their works. The local radio people are only one step away from the street.

In Bologna I did a concert in a record shop. Vanni had a spare room, empty, divided from the side-walk by a wall-to-wall window and a mimetic door. The door was left open, so that my sounds could roll outside. People were walking by; it was the happy hour. Some got in, some stayed, some just passed, some bought a bottle of beer at the falafel shop next door and remained outside, involved in some chitchatterings.

Vanni organizes unexisting radio shows every week.

Radio Flora:

Resonancefm :


Monday, March 06, 2006

Lab 12 , Vigevano - € 2,60 West of Milan

First there is Milan and the entrance hall of the railway station. 30-feet flags hang down on you, reminiscent of black&white pictures of the fifties that show narrow streets with full washing lines above the passing scooter.

Then there is a short glimpse outside, a wide stretch of asphalt, trees on it, and high office blocks at the other end greying away in dusty sunlight.

The underground entrance sucks you in - roars and echos, tapping feet and the shaking, rattling and rolling wagons that move through the invisible city.

Porta Genova - here the silence of Saturday's awaits me, few passengers step on the train, an old one, hardly comfortable.

Then outskirts dissolve in wasteland, turn into a village in the front line of commercial progress, make way for some nature: minutes of curiosity eat time : here's Vigevano, on the platform a brass band starts playing.

The morning after a sunny day awaits me - it's cold, but it's golden, and it's early - Pati, my host is still asleep. I have earned 24 euro with my concert, plus another 22 euro from CD-'s I have sold - I am rich. I offer myself a cappuccino and a brioche, and it will be had in one of the bars on the main square.

I enter the square through a little tunnel. People live over my head. The sound changes; suddenly it's cupped. Furs and perfumes stand in a group of fifty in the far corner - the source of the myriad voices that hop over me, trip on me, swirl around me - the voices play with each other like leaves that are taken by wind.

Everything is gold and glass in the bar. It's small and cosy. There's cakes and women's morning gazes as far as I can see. I am rich, o yeah, and it's a beautiful day, and I am sure it will take an hour before I finish my coffee. The sports paper in front of me is my excuse.

The main square of Vigevano is one of architectural splendor, unity in design of the houses that surround it, galleries, an army of pillars. An egg yolk colored baroque church holds out its ceremoniously sleeved arms to the believers. The tower of the castle is immediately behind the roofs. It rises up like a fist, reshaping the square to maquette proportion.

Tourist steps can lead one further to the horse stables designed by Da Vinci, and further to tales of history and further to Italy's golden age. Then city's and palaces were build to send the visitor back home with a great book full of stories. In the age of airplanes and mobile phones, palaces are build to make you gaze at the sky, as if one day a voice will be heard from there.

I returned to Vigevano a few weeks later as if it was a natural thing to do. I was invited to play together with Vri-il. I hope I didn't draw awkward sound lines in their dreamscaped music. The next day I saw Mondocane and Justice Yeldham with his glass-solo - raw and exciting - which made me wonder how raw and exciting John Coltrane's solo's must have been, because Lukas (Justice Y.) made me jump up and down from my seat.

Vigevano is just a small town. But Pati is not a small town girl. Every week she organises concerts at her house - an ex shoe factory, small factory, big house. Every week there is performers - those passing through Italy, like Lukas from Australia, or those on a little tour, like Luca and Gio' from Mondocane.
I am sure every concert is the same for its unpredictability; every concert could be expected in Berlin, Moscow or Tokyo; every concert transmits energy; every concert attracts twelve visitors.

Pati thinks of moving.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Help from above (two) - Visitors from Home

When the radio bla bla turns Dutch, I open my ears. The three hour programme is called 'De Avonden' - The Evenings, after a novel by one of The Netherlands greatest writers Jerry Revvis. Its content is highly cultural: interviews - discussions - reports - visits - poems. Sometimes it results in radio at its best, when a reporter sends in his travelogue, or a phone call offers visions from another side of the world. Transmission is five days a week, following traditional ethics: on Saturday and Sunday all the churches, mosques, synagogues and temples of Holland take over.

Fifteen minutes every week are dedicated to the 'Ars Acustica' by Armeno Alberts. He digs up one sonic treasure after another. Last time it were radiophonic productions from Finnish radio. I couldn't help hearing a faint undertone of despair in his voice. There he is, seated at his desk, papers and Cd'-s before him, wondering how to cram all this material into a fifteen minutes broadcast. No wonder that he inserted a well excused lament into his introduction: " There is less and less time available for this kind of music."

Still those programmes shine like the lights of ships that pass in the night.

do be do be do

On one of its last days my pocket radio was caught by a radiophonic symphony that was about to dissolve itself into a cosmic storm. On top of this Kunstradio from Vienna forced itself through; they were connected to five or six other radio stations. Some mix was at hand. I think. I resisted fifteen minutes. Then I thought I had heard the violin of Zsolt Sores, transmitted from Budapest. I felt happy with this audio postcard from Zsolt who i have met on a short trip to Hungary spring 2005.

A sub culture exists thanks to its intercommunication with main stream culture. When this communication is blocked by main stream culture, or put to restrictions, an anti culture will come into existence.

No panic! There is loads of people who organise soiree's, even in your home town.

Keep on listening, and help the performing artist and the one man labels by buying a Cd or cassette every now and then. It won't cost you more then a beer and a falafel.

De Avonden (book) :

De Avonden (radio):

Armeno's Music:

Kunstradio from Vienna:

Friday, March 03, 2006

Help from above (one) - Listening to the Radio

It's a few months now, since my pocket radio died. She had been my loyal travel companion for years, speaking silent words when I had breakfast. The last program I listened to was from Austrian radio. I put the volume so low that the voices were hardly audible; the sound transmitted the image of a Kaffeehaus in Vienna and the murmuring of its guests.

Now that I'm in Italy, I hardly listen to FM radio. It is a saddening experience - presenters are either hysteric, too loud, too unbearably funny or talking in their sleep without giving the slightest hope that they'll ever wake up. In Germany I listened to Funkhaus Europa until too much ethnic music and information about recently discovered minorities made my head as heavy as an anchor sinking to the bottom of the sea.

I don't carry a laptop with me, nor some radio connected to satellite. Maybe this is a blessing. The temptation to find exotic sounds from Sudanese wedding bands or Pygmies chatting and splashing in the jungle would take too much time away.

A recent discovery is a program on AM 747, to be received in western Europe. Between 7.00 and 8.00 P.M. Wim Bloemendaal, a veteran of Dutch radio, presents music from all over the world. He doesn't play world music, it's radio music. Sometimes from the very beginnings of recording, sometimes from the deep south of the U.S., always informative and with unexpected sequence. Since it is a transmission on AM other radio stations come to visit - the German chancellor, Spanish medieval songs, a melody from the voice of Russia put on 'repeat'.

Then, what often happens when you recommend something to a friend, dear old Wim seemed to shy off. He played extremely boring music from Israel and South -Africa. It remembered me of a routine visit to a girlfriend's uncle in Amsterdam. I entered a house that smelled of a life that was not mine.

Yesterday it was great again - five different versions of Sloop John B in a row.

Wim Bloemendaal:

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Report from Bologna (four) - An idea for a no-master class ( a letter)

Dear Mrs Lembi, dear Mr Guglielmi,

Over the last fifteen years I have visited Bologna several times, without ever getting the complete picture. Last February I was there again, did four concerts in four days, of which three were found on the day of my arrival. The encounters I made in the house where I was hosted and on several locations, gave me some insight in the lives of the numerous young people who came and still come to Bologna. They are from different national as well as international background, willing to sacrifice a great deal of their private life to live together with four or five previously unknown in an apartment that is designed for a family.

Bologna is a kind of cultural laboratory, where ideas get exchanged, developed and brought into existence. It is from this information that I got the idea of a no-master class, that I would like to present to you.

Contrarily to a master class in which a master leads its student step-by-step to perfection, a no-master class is characterised by the absence of a master or a leading figure. In the no-master class the master is visible in his non-presence, which is an expression of his faith in the qualities of the students. The main expressions of this faith are a little budget and a place to work and perform.

The qualities of the students are diverse. Thanks to his or her background he or she is a messenger. Thanks to her or his creativity and curiosity she or he is a guide and an explorer. Thanks to their willingness to collaborate, they are also communicators.

My starting point for such a no-master class is the art of sound. It is a form of art that jumps over traditional structures; new structures are still to be found. the sound artist is in an extremely intuitive and therefore adventurous period. Every concert or release is completely unpredictable.

This new kind of music and its spontaneous compositions are hard to describe or to define. If you look at the musicians (or the non-musicians like myself) you see that they come form different disciplines. One could state that sound is at the heart of all matter. The common nominator is that each one is a composer. Thanks to intuition also the piece itself wants to to be composed; it doesn't hesitate to welcome sound parts previously not thought of.

And here's the main aspect of the no-master class: the welcoming part.

And here's the dogmatic aspect of a no-master class:

The participants should come from different backgrounds.

The students of the no-master class should research sound and communication. They should also organise performances to present the results, be it as a conference, a book, an exhibition of newly invented instruments or a concert, preferably every two weeks. The students should not hesitate to welcome passing sound-artists or invite them from other parts of Italy or from outside Italy in order to gain refreshing thoughts and new stimulus.

The students should also work on communication; how to reach as many people as possible and how to build an international network, where the experiences can be repeated in a different socio-cultural context. The students should work on finding funds; try to convince companies to adopt a work-in progress and give its participants the means and complete freedom.

The no-master class should last a period of three months. The aim is to stimulate curiosity and interdisciplinary collaboration, and to help participants to set up an independent organisation.

I expect both authorities and participants to have better ideas that those proposed in this letter.

Dear Mrs Lembi, dear Mr Guglielmi, I hope you consider some of my thoughts when reflecting on the dynamic character of the youthful inhabitants Bologna.

This letter will be published on my no-budgetfoundations blog.

If you have any comment, I will gladly offer you space on my blog.

Thanks for your precious time,

un caro saluto,

Rinus van Alebeek

Simona Lembi is responsable for culture in the province of Bologna:

Angelo Guglielmi is responsable for culture in the city of Bologna:

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Report from Bologna (three) - ex mercato 24

The funeral that leaves all of us without too much suffering is the one of domestic objects. Still it is one of those activities that bring about a feeling of new life. In a solemn ritual the almost dead object is judged for its last functional or decorative value. Ghosts step out of the cupboards and voices are heard behind non - existing doors. Then a force awakens within, the spirit of the ancestors straightens shoulders and the piece gets ripped of of its last resistance. In a short one-man procession it is brought to the sidewalk and left there until morning light comes sweeping the streets.

These objects provoke the same hunger to gather as pieces washed upon a shore. The story of a shipwreck can take you back centuries. What's the story behind all those domestic refusals? At night the streets are full of shadows. She steps into a tipi of light, picks up an old suitcase and an umbrella and walks away.

I have an old catalogue in my possession, a gift. It's the kind of booklet that should end up in a box and left on the sidewalk. I can't throw things away; they are storytellers and I'm still listening. It's the catalogue of the seventh edition of Angelica, held on six to eleven may 1997. That year's them was plunder phonics, the art of sampling - it is the art of giving new life to sounds that were buried. Nowadays, Angelica is one of the lighthouses in the world of sound.

Link has left the building. In some stage of their existence they must have moved to another part of town. Their space was taken over by ex-mercato 24. Mercato means market. It's run down, because of the lack of money, and vivid, because of the coming and going. The backyard is full of pieces of wood. At some time they can be converted into tables, a stage, whatever. there is some wasteland around. The building itself, a line of cubic rectangular spaces, is used for political, social and cultural activities - a small theatre without seats, a bar, a computer room. On the evening of my concert, Bengali or Indian or Pakistani immigrants were attending Italian lessons.

Ricky was helped by two friends - forgot their names - guys from the north-east of Italy, where winters are fierce and grappa shows mercy. They had a magic bottle of good wine that never got empty.
At nine o'clock the room was a mess; at ten o'clock we were eating homemade pasta at a big table; at eleven o'clock Luca and Giovanni from Mondocane had changed one side of the room into a radio room of a cargo ship. at midnight Lukas was curing a cut in his foot. At one o'clock - during my set - I saw how the last pasta was handed out to the guests and at three o'clock on e of Ricky's Friuli friends filled six cups with rum and six cups with pear juice and that was the good night ritual of the evening.

Fifty people were there to see the concerts. the door money covered our travel expenses. The bar had a good night, good enough for the ex-mercatoneers to survive some days.


Link :