Workshop, Lectures and Concert
Sponsored and hosted by the Goethe Institut Brasilia, Brazil
Artistic Direction: Hildegard Westerkamp
Technical Production and Consultation:
Michael Fahres and Piet Hein van da Poel
November 5-11, 1993 and April 20 - May 22, 1994
This workshop's emphasis was high-tech and production oriented. The aim was to produce a number of compositions about Brasilia's soundscape, composed by a group of people from Brasilia. It was an ambitious project and would not have been possible to realize without Michael Fahres and Piet Hein van de Poel from Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation who were the co-producers of the project and brought the necessary technology and skills. They were instrumental in assisting with the successful completion of seven soundscape compositions, which then were presented in an outdoor concert and later compiled on a CD.
Soundscape Brasilia was unusual in the sense that we had more time than in any other context for the whole process. It ranged from a first week-long meeting in which concepts of soundscape and acoustic ecology were introduced, and participants were led through listening and sound recording experiences; to 5 months of gathering and cataloguing of sound materials by participants, as well as preliminary planning for the pieces; to 4 weeks of composing, all of it culminating in a weekend seminar with
lectures, soundwalks and a concert presenting the participants' compositions.
Most participants had some musical background, but it varied from rock to classical to folk. A few had experience with the radio medium and thus were familiar with sound production to a certain extent. Two were architect students and had no background in music or radio at all. None of the participants had ever composed with environmental sounds and some had never composed at all. This made the compositional part of the process particularly interesting as we addressed the main questions of the project: "How do we speak about this city through its own sounds?" "What is there to say that is relevant and how do I say it?" At every stage, discussions about the content of the work and its structures were part of the ongoing process.
Some pieces were produced collaboratively by two or three people, some were composed by one person alone. Each of them reflect in some way the composers' particular and characteristic perspective and speak about that which interests or fascinates them most in this city, using the sounds that assist in this expression. All of them reveal clearly a relationship between composer and place - the place of Brasilia.