Ascención

Fixed Composition for quadraphonic system

2017

Ascención is a short sound collage that explores the concept of upwards movement, its sonic perception, and its different meanings. The piece is inspired by the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes, located in the neighborhood of Chapinero in Bogotá, Colombia, a gothic-style cathedral that has become a symbol of one of the most traditional districts of the city, which transformed into a developing melting pot of business, culture, and progress. Since my house was located just across the street, this cathedral’s plaza evokes images that I strongly associate with memories of my process of growing up both physically and personally.

Hence the first sample of the piece is taken from Mercedes Sosa’s “Como un pájaro libre,” a song that my mom loved the most and used to sing to me as a child. A symbol of resistance against the authoritarian Argentinean government of Jorge Rafael Varela between 1976 and 1981, Sosa sings about the growing up process of her son and her longing to find him, since he has been a victim (a “desaparecido”) of the regime. The second sample is the rhythmical and harmonic outline of “La gata golosa,” by Fulgencio Garcia, favorite of my mom as well and arguably the most iconic bambuco of the Bogota region, denoting the history and tradition of the plaza and its surroundings (i.e. my house.)

The last two samples are field recordings. The first on the outdoor plaza, full of city noise, cars, people, and shouts; the second one, inside the church at the beginning of a mass, suggesting contemplation and retreat. Both samples are processed through frequency changes so their pitches to go higher into the spectrum. Beyond sound processing, the piece explores height through the spatial localization of the four samples, emulating the perception of sound elevation that reverberant churches provide.

On the background of all these samples lays a distorted group of tones that change frequency periodically. The tones are taken from the RGB information of the picture of the cathedral. Each row of each of the R, G and B planes is averaged and scaled to an audible frequency. The lecture of the rows is made upwards, symbolizing to the ascension of the sounds’ frequency.

The collaging of the four audio samples into one background also emulates Colombian culture itself on a structural basis, presenting blending processes of cultures and religions, and the adaptation and reinterpretation of Western European symbols to Latin American identity, like the cathedral itself. By intertwining this cultural characteristic with the basis of my own personality (i.e. memories of my childhood and youth), the piece serves as a personal reconciliation of myself with the Colombian (and more specifically, Bogotanean) identity, particularly after living now for and more than four years abroad and spending more than two years without visiting Bogotá.

As it happens, the day the field recordings were made, turned out to be the day my mother passed away, making this piece a sort of Requiem to her, by associating the ascension of the sound with the ascension of the soul and the mind to ethereal places (mediated by the cathedral), setting a starting and ending point of the road of life next to each other and blending into one entity.

Nico Daleman · Ascencion