Page  00000001 The First Retrospective of Mexican Electroacustic Music Manuel Rocha Iturbide National School of Music, UNAM Abstract The first retrospective of Mexican electroacustic music was held in March 2003. I undertook the organization of this event, as well as an important research work that hadn't been done before. I rescued old works that were lost, and reconstructed the difficult beginning of the history of this field in Mexico. This paper goes through the origins and development of music related to technology in my country, trying to make a global recount for the first time, and making use of a critical analysis in order to make up with the past, understand our present and foreseen the future. 1 Introduction In 2002 the director of the contemporary music festival Radar in Mexico asked me if I would do a retrospective of Mexican electroacustic music for his venue in 2003. This idea seemed to me very valuable because such an event had never been organized in my country. I started then to do a research and to take it further away, trying to gather more information in order to search for a continuity in the history of Mexican electroacustic music. Also, I aimed to provide a critical personal view of what happened here on the foundation days of this domain and explain the problems and difficulties of its development. This research resulted quite difficult because there was little bibliography and allot of fieldwork needed to be done. It was specially hard to find information about the works produced in the 60's and 70's, because there wasn't a center for the experimentation, production, diffusion and conservation of electronic works, functioning in an appropriate and continuos way through the four and a half decades of history of this music specialty in our nation. 2 The origins Carlos Chavez is perhaps the first Mexican composer that became interested in the possibilities of technology in relation to music. In 1932 he travels to the RCA Victor and the Bell Telephone studios in the USA, and writes two articles that will become part of the book "Toward a new music; music and electricity" published later in 1937. Here, Chavez foresees the institutional obstacles that composers and artists interested in the new audio media1 confront everyday. He considered that the day when these artists 1These new media were for Chavez: electric photography, sound photography, and electric instruments that hadn't been invented yet. Proceedings ICMC 2004

Page  00000002 would be able to get involved with these media without the help of technical intermediaries, a new path would be open for the creation of new forms of art. However, Chavez did not maintain this early interest and left the good intentions to the new generations. It wasn't until the decade of the 60's that there was a significant development of contemporary music in Mexico, owing to the creation of the "Taller de composici6n" directed by this same composer. From this workshop, composers like Mario Lavista, Francisco Nuiez, Hector Quintanar and Julio Estrada emerged, who assimilated the newest serial techniques imported from Europe, the aleatory music techniques, and who acquired increasing interest to the new sonorous languages emerging from technical development (Moreno, 1994). Some of them, and elder generations of composers like Carlos Jimenez Mabarak, Manuel Enrfquez, Manuel de Elias and Alicia Urreta, tried their hands on the electronic and concrete music fields, thanks to their contact in and out of Mexico with some of the pioneers of this genre (Europeans and North Americans)2. Yet, it was until the end of the sixties when the engineer Raul Pav6n (b. 1927)3 together with the composer Hector Quintanar (b. 1936) created the first laboratory of electronic music in Mexico, at the grounds of the National Conservatory of Mexico City (and with the support of Carlos Chavez). Moreover, this project did not experience a fruitful life. 2 Particularly with Jean Etienne Marie in Paris, and with the composers members of the electronic music studio at Columbia-Princeton University (Milton Babbit and Vladimir Ussachevsky). 3 An electronic engineer passionate for music and technology since 1958, inventor of various synthesizers and writer of a book on electronic music and multimedia in 1980. New musical technologies (like synthesizers and the tape machine) and their possibilities to create music through new ideas and ways to work with sounds, attracted the generation of Mabarak4 Enriquez and Urreta, as well as younger composers like Mario Lavista (b. 1942) who later wrote various articles about how the composer could work directly with sound matter, and about the necessity to create new types of musical representation for electronic music, (Lavista, 1974) and to regard new conceptions starting from the sound-noise paradigm5 (Lavista, 1984). 3 Development of the first epoch The seventies saw the emergence of the experimental group Quanta6, which incorporated in some of their music live electroacustic manipulations. Furthermore, Hector Quintanar was interested in composing by way of performing and manipulating synthesizers alive (Pulido, 1971). He also organized a seminar centered in electronic music with the participation of national and international composers at the University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1974. That same year, composer Julio Estrada (b. 1942) in collaboration with the mathematician Jorge Gil researched around computer assisted 4 Composer from an elder generation (1916 -1994) who wrote the first electroacustic piece in Mexico ("Paradise of the drowned", for tape and ballet, 1957), and also creator of the first concrete music concert in our country that same year. Seems paradoxical that this composer and pioneer, who produced concerts regarding this musical language, only wrote 2 pieces for tape. * Lavista presented this paper in a symposium called "The identity of Latin American music" in Casa de las Americas Havana Cuba in 1977. 6 Created by Mario Lavista and integrated by Antero Chavez, Victor Medeles, Juan Cuahutemoc Herrejdn and Fernando Nicolas Echeverria. Proceedings ICMC 2004

Page  00000003 compositions7. At the same time, Raul Pav6n imparts the class of electronic music at the National Conservatory of Mexico City, and thanks to this, new composers like Juan Cuahutemoc Herrej6n start experimenting in this area. Also, the young composer and electrical engineer Antonio Russek (b. 1955) creates the first private Laboratory for the production and broadcasting of electronic music at his home (1975). Nevertheless, regardless of these positive factors that contributed to the development of electronic music, the fact is that there was little continuity, a lack of research, forums, concerts and conferences. Also, there were hardly forty pieces of electroacustic music created through the first two decades of production in our country (many of them that have been lost or not recovered). We will have to wait until the beginning of the 80's when a new generation of composers, bearers of mayor passion for this language will emerge. I think that besides the bureaucratic problems that made difficult the lack of development of the electroacustic field in Mexico8, the main problem was the little interest that those generations showed for this genre. The reason is that many of them thought synthesizers were simply new instruments with fresh sound colors that became supplementary to the ones already existing in the orchestra. This is why these composers were unable to go deeper into the technical-esthetical specificity's of this new language. On the other side, the creation of elecrtoacustic music demanded a through full study of the acoustic sciences, and this factor prevented many composers from investing the time and effort involved in having 7 Julio Estrada is the pioneer in Mexico in using a computer and producing information set-aside for the creation of an instrumental composition. 8 Due to the lack of support from the cultural public institutions in Mexico to renovate the equipment of the laboratory and keep it working. successful results9. Finally, there was also an obstacle created from traditional academia that was not interested in the specialization of electronic music in the music schools, and in fact this is still up to this date a problem we have in our country. We should try to analyze why in a Latin American country analogous to Mexico like Argentina there was an electronic music laboratory since 195810, which is still working up to this date, while in Mexico this situation never became possible. 4 The true pioneers My personal view is that the real origin of electroacustic music in Mexico happens in the eighties, particularly outside the cultural institutions of the government, and thanks to composers like Antonio Russek, Vicente Rojo (b. 1960), Arturo Marquez (b. 1960) and Roberto Morales (b. 1955), who gave it an important impulse through the creation of works and interdisciplinary concerts". Also, 9 At those times only the engineer Raul Pav6n understood the true possibilities of this new musical language. Its too bad that he was never considered by his colleges as a "serious" composer (he doesn't appear in any of the dictionaries of Mexican composers, although Julio Estrada speaks of him benevolently in the book "La musica en Mexico"). Pavon developed an important research and composed multi media electroacustic works in the early eighties and then he suddenly disappeared from our country in the early nineties. On the other hand, from these generations only Manuel Enriquez and Francisco Nu~ez maintained an interest in electroacustic music and created new forums and spaces for its production and diffusion. 10 Founded by Francisco Kripfl. This laboratory is located now in the "Centro Cultural Recoleta" in Buenos Aires. " In the eighties there were various interdisciplinary collectives that presented electroacustic works such as Atentamente a la direccibn, MOsica de Camara, La Sonora Industrial, El Alacran del Cantaro, etc. Proceedings ICMC 2004

Page  00000004 Russek created the Independent center of musical research and multimedia (CIIM), studio in which there were courses and where composers like Eduardo Soto Millan, Semir Menaceri, etc, produced various compositions. Nevertheless, we cant deny that the interest of the elder composer Manuel Enriquez (1926-1994) for electroacustic music as well as the creation of a new festival of contemporary music by him - Foro de Musica Nueva, a festival supported by the INBA government institute that lasted from 1979 until 1994 - were also important factors for the diffusion of this music at those times. 5 The first composers with specialization degrees. Other composers that decided to escape the academic stasis in Mexico by way of undertaking electroacustic music studies in foreign countries soon joined the indisputable pioneers of electroacustic music in Mexico. This is the case of Javier Alvarez (b. 1955)12, and a couple years later Manuel Rocha Iturbide (b. 1963), Antonio Fernandez Ros (b. 1961), Guillermo Galindo (b. 1960) and others that are part of the first generations that received an academic education in the field of computer music3. Notwithstanding the efforts made by the composers brought up at this stage in 12 Who since 1982 starts his studies on electroacustic music in England, and by the middle eighties wins international prizes and awards for his works. 13 Like the realization of masters and doctors in computer music, although there were also other composers that undertook less specialized studies in foreign countries like Salvador Torre (in the middle eighties) and Gonzalo Macias (in the early nineties) both who studied electroacustic music in the conservatory of Boulogne in Paris for example. order to generate new spaces and to teach and spread this music, at present times we still don't have a bachelor or specialization course of electroacustic music in our country, making difficult then a further development. It is then understandable that the new generations of composers born in the seventies and eighties are still immigrating to foreign countries in order to develop better in this area14. Nevertheless, some of them have been able to evolve in our country thanks to the isolated courses taught by some composers. Roberto Morales tried to found a computer music bachelor in the University of Guanajuato, and during five years or more, he collaborated to bring a new generation of young composers15. Unhappily, the conservative and bureaucratic character of this institution has prevented the creation of this program. On the other hand, Javier Alvarez (A Mexican composer living in England) has come to Mexico almost every year to teach courses of electroacustic music at the National Center for the Arts in Mexico City, and from these courses new composers have come up front in the Mexican scene. Finally, I undertook a few years ago a young group of composers and created a workshop that is working up to this date16. 14 This is the case of Rodrigo Sigal and Pablo Garcia Valenzuela that undertook doctoral studies in computer music in City University in London England, or the case of Rogelio Sosa that studied a year at IRCAM and who is currently doing his doctor in the University of Paris VIII in France. 15 From these young composers, Victor Manuel Davalos and Mauricio Valdez stand out. 16 This workshop generated the collective Machintosco integrated by Miguel Hernandez Montero, Guillermo Acevedo, Victor Romero, Jose Manuel Mondragdn and Salvador Rodriguez. They received the first prize in the Bourges festival in France in the category of electroacustic music with video in 2001. Proceedings ICMC 2004

Page  00000005 6 New generations, spaces and forums. There are today in Mexico many composers interested in the electroacustic music field, and even though many of them haven't still specialized in this discipline, they have yet produced some interesting works.17 On the other side, in the last decade new forums and spaces have appeared and have helped the difficult development of this music. Also, this last decade has seen the appearance of numerous spaces and forums that support the expression and diffusion of this music, thanks to festivals like "The international Radio Biennial"18, "Festival del callej6n del ruido"19, "The International Sound Art Festival"20 and recently "Radar". Other factors that have helped increase the interest for this music in Mexico are the technological developments of computer programming in recent years. Through the nineties, the emerging cultural institutions played an important role in the promotion of electronic art like the Multimedia center, the Centro de la Imagen, the Ex-Teresa Arte Actual museum, the Laboratorio arte alameda museum, and so 17 This is the case of composers like Ignacio Baca Lobera, Carlos Sandoval, Gabriela Ortiz, etc. 18 Biennial organized by Radio Educacidn whose first edition was in 1996. Thanks to the enterprise of the director of this institution (Lidia Camacho), in this forum they have encouraged the development of the Radio Art genre that belongs to the electroacustic art field. 19 Founded by Roberto Morales Manzanares in 1994 in Guanajuato. 20 Founded by Guillermo Santamarina and Manuel Rocha Iturbide in 1999. This festival has contributed with the expansion of sound art in Mexico, under its wing an important number of Mexican sound artists have emerged. Apart from staging countless electroacoustic music concerts for tape, live electronics and with instruments, it has also opened a space for experimental electronic music. on. Nevertheless it's a pity that as for today we can't count on a computer music center, a project similar to the Multimedia Center where advanced courses on music and technology can be imparted, as well as postgraduate studies. Unfortunately, the academic musical scene remains in a halt. As for now, we have been unable to launch postgraduate musical studies in Mexico, except for the University of Jalapa Veracruz, where they impart the only masters on musicology and instrumental composition in the country. However, the University of Mexico will start soon a series of master degrees in music (after ten years of a stagnant bureaucratic hold), one of them related with music and technology. In spite of the academic delay our country is undergoing, it has profited from the incredible development of Pop electronic music, which is danceable all around the globe. This boom has helped the popularity of DJ's and collectives of experimental groups21, as well as sound artists that are producing alternative music, without necessarilY owing it to an academic musical background 2 21 Its obvious that the most part of POP electronic music in Mexico is commercial and is centered in repetitive beats that evolve into styles like the "Drum and Base", "Trance", "House", etc. But Alvaro Ruiz, DJ Linga and some other young composers like Mario de Vega, have been exploring other areas of experimental electronic music. On the other hand, we have collectives like Nortec in Tijuana, and Nopal Beat in Guadalajara that have done interesting proposals that kind of move away from the commercial scene. 22 An example is the artist from Monterrey Daniel Lara, or the sound artist Luz Maria Sanchez from Guadalajara. Proceedings ICMC 2004

Page  00000006 7 Conclusions. Electroacustic music is a language as serious and sophisticated as contemporary instrumental music. I believe that this retrospective has emphasized the fact that Mexico today has a vast spectrum of composers, those with relevant trajectories in the field, younger composers who have already made a name for themselves, and newer talented rising generations with needs of development. Finally, it was impossible to reflect objectively the most relevant aspects of the history of electroacustic music in Mexico in only two concerts, so I felt obliged to implement four hearing posts that presented the composers by decades23. On the other hand, it was difficult to include all of the composers who have done something relevant in the field, because some of their pieces (mostly the ones who have already died) have been lost or not recovered, and the effort to trace them with their descendants will need a lot of work. It is important to mention that not all of the composers that I contacted sent me their pieces, even though the most prolific did. This investigation came into being thanks to the original idea of Jose Wolfer, to the enormous interest of all the composers of the trade who kindly sent me their works, and to the valuable help of the CENIDIM musical research center in regard to the discoveries of pioneer works (as Tlalocan of Jimenez Mabarak, Prehistoric Mass by Enriquez, and the Electronic Studies by Juan Cuahutemoc Herrej6n). Essential was the support received from the composer Antonio Russek, because he zealously saved and recovered many pieces of the sixties that we had thought lost (like Contrapunto by Mario Lavista, and Non Nova Sed Novo by Manuel de Elfas). Antonio 23 Composers born in thelO's, 20's, 30's y 40's, the ones born on the 50's, the ones born on the 60's and the ones born on the 70's. helped me to reconstruct the primordial facts of the early history of electroacoustic music in our country. I am also obliged to Alejandra Odgers for having executed an extensive documentation of electroacustic Mexican works for her bachelor degree thesis (Odgers, 2000). This register helped me set the basis to carry out my inquiry24, and to Gonzalo Macias for his interest in the retrospective, since he is currently investigating the development of the Mexican electroacustic music with instruments for his PhD thesis in France. If the creation of a new laboratory of computer music is not possible, where pieces could be produced and advanced workshops and programs be imparted (at graduate and postgraduate levels), it would be at least desirable the existence of a small Media Center who's tasks would include the accumulation of information and the harboring of electroacoustic pieces produced in Mexico. This place could also host the quarters of a Mexican electroacoustic music association in charge of the dissemination of our music nationally and internationally25, As for now, the efforts have been individual and many times have remained diluted. I hope that the interested composers of the musical trade become receptive to these ideas in order to carry out this task. 24 1 hope Alejandra will review this valuable work, so she can include the composers born in the seventies, many of them who have already shined out internationally. On the other hand it would be useful if she indicates which pieces have been awarded, and in which studios they where carried out in order to understand what are the more relevant works in our history. 25 As well as publishing records of Mexican Electroacoustic music (like CD's and books) with the support of government institutions, because this area hasn't been exposed. Proceedings ICMC 2004

Page  00000007 References Alcaraz Jose Antonio. "Musica Electr6nica". In Heterofonia, Revista Musical. Year II Number 9. November 1969. Mexico D.F. Alvarez Javier. "La musica electroacustica en Mexico". In the magazine Pauta, cuadernos de teoria y critica musical. CENIDIM, 1996 (57-58, January-June 1996). Mexico DF. Chavez Carlos. "Toward a new music: Music and electricity. New York. Norton. 1937. De Elias Manuel. "Sobre Musica Electr6nica". In Heterofonia, bi monthly music magazine. Year I Number 2, September 1968. Mexico D.F. De Elias Manuel. "La creaci6n musical en Mexico durante el siglo XX". In Pauta, Vol. XI, April. May, June 1992. CENIDIM. Mexico DF. De Quevedo Lourdes. "La emancipaci6n artistica de la radio". Universidad pedag6jica nacional. Mexico DF. 2001. Garcia Morillo Roberto. "Carlos Chavez. Vida y Obra". Fondo de Cultura Econ6mica, Mexico, 1960. Gonzales Jorge R. "Breve resena del primer seminario de musica electr6nica". In Heterofonia, musical magazine. March April 1974. Volume VII no 2. Mexico DF. Gonzales M.A. & Saavedra L. "Musica mexicana contemporanea". Fondo de Cultura Econ6mica, Mexico, 1982. Kahn Douglas. "Noise Water Meat. A history of sound in the arts" The MIT Press. 1999. Lavista Mario. "Creaci6n e interpretaci6n en la musica electr6nica". In Dialogos, bi monthly magazine, volume 10, number 5, September October 1974. Mexico DF. Lavista Mario. "En el ambiente de la renovaci6n creadora de los lenguajes artisticos". In "Musicologfa en Latinoamerica". Arte y Literatura Editors, Havana city, 1984. Malmstrom Dan. "lntroducci6n a la musica mexicana del siglo XX". Breviarios del Fondo de Cultura Econ6mica. First edition, 1977. Marquez Arturo. "La musica en la interdisciplina en Mexico. Tendencias Actuales". In Variaciones, cuadernos de musica contemporanea. Musica Americana hoy. Number 2. November 1993. Area de musica del IVACEM. Valencia. Moreno Rivas Yolanda. "La composici6n en mexico en el siglo XX". Conaculta. Mexico DF. 1994. Odgers Alejandra. "La mUsica electroacustica en Mexico". Thesis to obtain the title of bachelor in composition at the ENM of UNAM. Mexico DF. 2000. Pav6n Raul. "La electr6nica en la musica...y en el arte". INBA-SEP-CENIDIM, Mexico, 1981. Pulido Esperanza. "Conversaci6n con Hector Quintanar. Director del laboratorio de musica electr6nica del conservatorio". In Heterofonia, musical magazine. Year IV Number 18. May June 1971. Mexico D.F. Rocha Iturbide Manuel. "Santo, Blue Demon and Co, true pioneers of electroacoustic in Mexico?. Presented in the symposium "El futuro Mas Aca. The history of Mexican science fiction films". Mexico, 2003. Rojo Vicente. "Nuevas perspectivas latinoamericanas". In Pauta, volume XII, January, February, March 1993. CENIDIM. Mexico DF. Soto Millan Eduardo. "Dicccionario de compositores mexicanos de musica de concierto. SACM and Fondo de cultura econ6mica editors. Mexico DF. Two volumes. 1996. Tello Aurelio. "I1 encuentro mexicano cubano de musica electroacustica". In Pauta, Vol. III, No. 11, July, August, September 1984. Proceedings ICMC 2004