The Music of Luiz Vaz 73

Jorge Peixinho, Luiz Vaz 73 [booklet], Lisbon, Galeria Nacional de Arte Moderna

1573 – Luiz Vaz de Camões presents his poem The Lusiads in Lisbon.

As we know, the episodes comprising the description of the voyage of Vasco da Gama have characteristics which vary greatly: historical evocation (lyrical, dramatic or of patriotic exaltation) and mythological fiction (moral or symbolic in character). The mythological allegories act as a counterpoint to the "real" action (historical), setting up a perfect dialectical balance.

1973 – 400 years later, during my stay in Ghent, Belgium, I began composing a piece of electronic music inspired and based on the poem, which was completed in 1974.From the formal viewpoint I was particularly interested in the permanent interaction between the past, present and future and, on the other hand, the opposition between the historical and mythological levels. From an ideological point of view, I tried to project the progressive values emanating from the poem upon contemporary life and society.

As basic material for the work I used elements of varying complexity which I classified according to their typological character (coloured noises: sinusoidal, triangular and square waves, groups and constellations; and melodic figures; impulses; percussion; progressions and harmonic expansions; etc. On the basis of this material and its transformation, I worked out a new series of fragments, by means of superposition.

The composition as a whole arose from the final assembly of a selection of differentiated fragments (original fragments and manipulations), according to a subjective identification of the musical fragments with the more relevant episodes of the poem. This operation was carried out by means of principles of psychological and symbolic "correspondence" between the basic sound structures and the more specific elements of the poem (historical, legendary or mythological). To this primary "correspondence" I added combinatory rules based on the behaviour of each structure towards the others and to external circumstances.