Post-prae-ludium n.1 per Donau -
Luigi Nono

Premiered in Donaueschingen in 1987, this work is the effect of the close cooperation between the composer and tubist Giancarlo Schiaffni, who, along with flutist Roberto Fabbriciani and clarinettist Ciro Scarponi, was one of the musicians regularly collaborating with Nono in his last period, which began with the quartet Fragmente­Stille, an Diotima. Their performance techniques stimulated the composer's imagination, suggested new types of sound, and in uenced his creative process. During his work on Prometeo, Nono took the following note: "Fabbriciani in flute register c3-f3, Scarponi in clarinet register D♭2-A♭2, Schiaffni in tuba register f2-f3 produce sounds like sinusoid waves without the upper tones (all this was analysed in Freiburg with a sonoscope)." Nono's decisive and inevitable encounter with the possibilities of Freiburg's live electronics studio and with the technique of live real-time transformations of sounds produced by instrumentalists and singers changed the composer's way of working, but also made the notation of its acoustic results problematic.

In the composer's note written for the world premiere and later printed in the score, we read: "The structure of the composition has been mapped out in detail, though the whole is conceived as a sketch for the performer. The new technical possibilities of a tuba with six valves give the musician freedom to go beyond that sketch and create new unplanned sound events. Electronic sound transformations have been applied in this piece in various ways. The tubist ought to respond to processes of sound expansion, take them over and develop them. With the notation at our disposal, the new performance technique and live electronics combine to replace the results of my own interpretation."

The score thus becomes a sketch, the map of a process that the performer ought to reconstruct. Notation is not a prescription (Vorschri ), but simply a transcription (Nachschri ): sound precedes notation, not vice versa. For Nono, composition is on the one hand the result of a complex series of operations and long collaboration with technicians and performers, and on the other, a form of activity that is pushed into the background during the concert or any other public performance context, so that space should not be disturbed. In this way, the audience is invited to follow the movement of sound in space and the dialogue between sound and silence.

The kind of listening that Nono had in mind while working on compositions such as Post­prae­ludium n. 1 per Donau can be de ned as initial listening: not one that can grasp the ultimate sense of the work, but one turning each time anew, with interest and wonder, toward sound, without the possibility of predicting its results, in a state of suspension in time.

Paolo Pinamonti. Reprinted from the catalogue Con Luigi Nono. Festival internazionale di musica contemporanea, La Biennale di Venezia, 1992-93 (Milano: Ricordi, 1993).