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PERFORMANCE FOR PLURAL LARYNX: A SONG FOR TRUE
In addition to the opera “A Vaia Viva”, which will be premiered at the biennial, BoCA is organising a series of activities with MAAT and the Marvila Library around the musician Pedro Sousa.
Jerry True was a – virtually unknown – saxophonist in orchestras and big bands in Hastings, Nevada. Towards the end of his life he had throat cancer which prevented him from continuing to play the saxophone. With determination, he got a small portable air compressor and attached the hose to his mouth so that he could have the sound pressure to continue playing his instrument. This story created the basis for “Performance for plural larynx: A song for True” by musician Pedro Sousa, presented for the first time in New York as part of the Ernesto de Sousa Fellowship, which he won in 2013. Pedro Alves Sousa developed this performance during his residency at Phil Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia.
Throughout history, musical instruments have been mostly considered inert, as they lack human intervention. In a historical period when wind harps were in vogue, and at the advent of the golden age of mechanical music, the saxophone, created in the first half of the 19th century, was an exponent of humanistic and technological creation. While advances in automation through computers, MIDI protocols, and various machines have allowed for varying degrees of ambiguity in the concept of what a musician or instrumentalist consists of, the saxophone transcends this idea: more than manipulation, it also requires physical effort, with very clear restrictions.
In this piece, Pedro Alves Sousa seeks to take the instrument to the limit of its capabilities, bypassing the human factor: our lungs have limits both in air volume capacity – how long can a saxophone play a single note without stopping – and in how many decibels we are able to produce. By exploding these confinements, the instrument takes on an industrial dimension, but sound perception becomes subjective as it vibrates and processes more through the body than through the use of the ears.
In honour of Jerry True’s memory, the performance was presented to the public for the first time in New York in 2014, shortly after his death.