Interview with Matteo Tundo (April 2016)

When did you start to play guitar and why? What did you study and what’s your musical background? With that guitar do you play and with what you played?

I started playing the guitar at age 14. I listened to rock and metal and electric guitar was the emblem of these genres; I started like most players, I think. I was initially a self-taught then, little by little, I started to feel the need to know more. At 17, I started attending a private school in Potenza to prepare for the entrance’s exam at the Conservatory for the classical guitar’s corse.
Parallel to these classical studies at the conservatory I continued to attend private lessons and I was introduced to the world of jazz. In the course of a year, my interest has shifted in that direction, so I decided to go to Florence and to subscribe to the three years of jazz guitar at the Conservatory, I graduated in this discipline last year and now I am attending the biennium Music and New Technologies.
The guitar that I use the most is a Dean Palomino, a semi-acoustic truly amazing, which in my opinion has nothing to envy to the most famous guitars from much higher price. I used an Ibanez Joe Satriani, a Taylor acoustic, classical Ramirez and many others; My first guitar was an Eko Stratocaster model which, thanks to the help of my father, years later I removed all the keys to make it a fretless … it didn’t work.

How was born the idea for your latest CD “Zero Brane”?
Why did you choose not to bet on a “guitar” production, but on a more .. “chambered” one?

The idea of Zero Brane stems mostly from my purely amateur passion for physics. I’m interested above all to string theory and its derivations, which I consider the absolute elegance. Moreover, I found the connections between the music and the theory, since a key part of that is the different mode of vibration of the strings. I started to think, therefore, set to music parts of this theory and propose sound abstraction of some of his concepts; I really enjoyed myself there. Going on with this musical studies I realized also that I don’t care about the virtuoso aspect of the instrument and hate records where the leader should stand at any cost. I am only interested in the sound aspect, work on sound and sound. This is only possible by focusing more compositional appearance. With a formation of six elements I wanted to obtain a sound chamber able to move between more raw sound to other more ethereal one.

Tell us about your traveling companions: Emanuele Parrini (violin, viola), Piero Bittolo Bon (alto sax, clarinet), Simone Graziano (Fender Rhodes), Matthew Giglioni (drums), Alessio Riccio (electronics) .. how did start your collaboration?

Simultaneously at the Conservatory I also attended one year at Siena Jazz where I met Simone, who was my teacher in complementary piano. When I decided to leave Siena Jazz I wanted to continue his studies with Simon because I felt that he could give me so much, especially for the compositional aspect, so we started a journey. He introduced me to many musicians, including those who play on my record. They are all great players and I’m really glad to have the opportunity to work with them. I think it has a lot of importance also the human aspect, and with them I always found it very well; you can laugh, joke around, but also be serious.

What were and are your main musical influences? How do you express your “musical form”
is under execution that improvisation, whether you’re playing “solo” both with other musicians? Draw up a “form” default making adjustments when necessary, or you let the “form” itself to emerge in different situations, or exploit both creative approaches

Zero Brane had a long period of gestation, nearly three years. The musical influences that have characterized the tracks are many and different. For some there is a clear reference to a kind of avant-jazz I listened to a lot a few years ago, in particular Tim Berne and Steve Lehman’s records. The most abstract pieces were designed later, during periods when I started listening to a lot of electroacoustic and contemporary music.
“Form” is one of the most serious problems in the composition; I have worked before in the field of micro-shaped, and the care of the stamps and the interaction between the instruments. Then in the macro-form, which also includes the order of tracks on the disc. For tracks that have a very defined structure I try to let the forms emerge alone in improvised parts; while in the more abstract songs and that are based on free improvisation I want them to create the structure from conceptual ideas or geometric shapes.

How much important is improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking of improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?

The book by Derek Bailey Improvisation analyzes good many cases of improvisation in different music with really interesting interviews. Improvisation has always been present in the music, folk music is imbued with improvisation, see the Indian and flamenco, but also baroque music. Improvisation exists in every field of music, even the interpretation of a classic song can be considered a form of improvisation.
What interests me is mostly the non-idiomatic improvisation, and one that does not refer to any existing genre, and using it in a musical or conceptual framework. Also with regard to the scope of improvisation, I believe that more importance should be given to the “sound” as such.

How does your music methodology is influence from the community of people (musicians or not) you work with? Do you change your approach in relation to the one who directly or indirectly receive from them? If you listen to a different interpretation of a song you already played and you want to perform it do you take care of this listening or do you prefer to proceed in complete independence?

Inevitable and essential is that the music that is produced is influenced by human relationships, and I think it’s a wonderful thing. It is precisely what underlies the
concept of improvisation in my opinion: to be a transistor, a repeater of all the acquired information, and that each meeting or small change mute your way of thinking, playing and composing. Hearing many versions of the same track definitely helps to create their own personal version; more information is obtained from other more you are able to give of their own.

I sometimes feel that in our time the history of the music flow with no particular interest in its chronological course, in our disco-music library before and after,
the past and the future become interchangeable elements, could be this the risk for an interpreter and a composer of a uniform vision? A music “globalization”?

I believe that making music is absolutely necessary to have a very strong historical
consciousness, understand that the era we are living, and above all why. To understand and experience the contemporary, forward-looking, you need a study of the past, not only from a musical point of view, but also historical and social. Regarding this issue I really admire the idea of Luigi Nono that his reading concluded “historical presence in the music of today” in Darmstadt in 1959 with these words: “Music will always be a historical presence, a witness of the men who consciously face the historical process, and that in every moment of the process decided in full clarity of their intuition and logic of their conscience and act to open new opportunities vital to the need for new facilities. Art lives and will continue to do its job. And there is still much work to be done and wonderful. “

Can you tell us five discs essential tips for you, you always have with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island …?

Probably I prefer to bring books on a desert island, but in any case …

Autechre – Exai
Morton Feldman – For
Bunita Marcus
Bernard Parmegiani – La creation du Monde
Sorey – Alloy
Anna Thorvaldsdottir – Aerial

And if I can add one more …
Luigi Nono – Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima

Who would you like to play and with who would you like to play? What music do you listen to usually?

I would love to play with Tyshawn Sorey, an amazing drummer, but also a brilliant composer; I think is one of the few who really has found the right chemistry between improvisation and composition. Also last year I started to study by Luciano Berio Sequenza XI for guitar and I’d like to finish it; same goes for Algo Franco Donatoni.
I usually listen to contemporary music, electroacoustic and non-idiomatic improvisation.


What are your next projects? What are you working on?

I want to focus on the composition and research in acoustic / musical field. Lately I’m
working on a piece for oboe, piano and electronics, but it will still take a long time to carry it out. Also I hope to conclude this year an electroacoustic music I’m working hard for several months. They
are completely turned towards the continuous search for possibilities. I am convinced that the research is even more important than the finding.