- Rondà da Passeggio
Rondò da Passeggio ("Rondo to go" is an approximate translation into English) is a curious outdoor installation that took place on a single day, 18 May 2008, in Padua, Italy—a rainy day, unfortunately. But Padua is used to frequent rains, and its streets are almost completely accompanied by beautiful porticos, whose function is precisely to keep passers-by dry (see Figure 1).
And Rondò da Passeggio was, accordingly, an installation to sonify the entire 366-yard-long portico of Via Roma, one of the main pedestrian boulevards of the city. So, in fact, the rain had the effect of concentrating the passage of intentional listeners and casual strollers under the porticos, contributing to the widespread success of the event.
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Commissioned by Sergio Durante, professor in the Department of Visual Art and Music at the University of Padua, and supported by the city's administration, the Giornata dell'Ascolto [Day of Listening] is an initiative that takes place in downtown Padua on a single day each year. According to Mr. Durante:
Its theoretical background (here drastically summarized) is that modern culture provides a superabundance of objects (musical objects in our case) but fewer and fewer opportunities for appropriate listening conditions. During the day a number of "different ways of listening" are offered to the citizens (and visitors) of the city to help them retrieve the very sense (and sensibility) of the act of listening. The musical "repertoire" becomes a function of the psychoacoustic and social processes under way rather than an object of fetishism. In order to reach the goal, a relatively broad range of listening experiences are selected, from Persian poetry of the 13th century sung in the 13th-century City Hall building—the Salone della Ragione, to historical Western repertoire, to newly composed music. This was the case for Rondò da Passeggio, which was especially conceived for the listening conditions of a Paduan portico (electronic mail communication).
Mr. Durante continues:
The idea to produce a multiple linear installation over a stretch of 350 meters is in itself original, but despite that the event reached the national media in the simplified representation of a curiosum, originality per se was not the goal: more important was the choice of collective composition, one that de-emphasized the centrality of ego in the compositional processes of the West (a centrality which significantly runs across both "high" and "low" musical cultures). On the other hand the project faced and focused some characteristic problems of post-avant-garde music: the listener "walked through" music rather than joining the crowd at the concert hall or standing in front of one single installation. In this way the listener defined (or rather interacted with) the form of music according to one's walking speed and/or to the special interest for each individual installation, slowing down, speeding up or stopping. At the same time, the installation compelled the casual passerby to come to terms with sonorities that did not (probably) belong to his or her daily experience. This represents, in itself, a statement within an urban culture (in Padua as anywhere else) that exposes individuals to the daily violence of sounds "not chosen." Not least, the project posed compositional problems of interrelationship (formal, stylistic, textural) between different parts of the installation. These problems may have been successfully solved (or possibly less than successfully solved); but beyond this point, most important was that the new problems generated new reflections. Hence, the intention to repeat the experience at the next Giornata dell'Ascolto in 2009 (ibid).
All in all, the Rondò da Passeggio was nothing short of a colossal effort realized with cheap technologies [End Page 68] and high-quality passion. Rondò da Passeggio was conceived by Nicola Bernardini (coordinator of the installation, and professor of Electronic Music at the Conservatory of Padua) as a meta-composition of seven different installations distributed over seven different spots along the portico (see Figure 2).
The compositions were disposed so as to create the sense of recurring...