Sonic Soundtrack

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Artist creates symphony from fragments

What’s it like to collaborate with the world? 

That’s what Italian artist Marinella Senatore has been doing over the past few months. Under the auspices of Magazzino Italian Art in Philipstown, Senatore put out an open call for sounds that reflected the “current moment” for the submitter. People could phone a designated voicemail line or send their contributions as audio files by text or email.

The world responded. In what was a surprise to all, the project, which had been envisioned as a local work much like Senatore’s previous collaboration with the museum, a 2019 processional on the streets of Cold Spring, went global.

Each of the more than 130 sonic fragments Senatore collected between Sept. 9 and Nov. 7 was incorporated into a larger composition she called “Cold Spring Soundtrack” that was released online on Dec. 22 at Senatore determined the order and emphasis of the fragments and her creative partner, composer Emiliano Branda, wrote a score and recorded the 25-minute “symphonic soundscape” in his studio in Rome. 

“They went through everything together, listening and deciding,” said Juliet Vincente, a Magazzino representative, who added that she had “listened to every single contribution and wondered how they were going to do this. There was such diverse talent, including some trained opera singers, others giving spoken segments of their day. Weaving them together as a whole gave beauty to each of the contributions.”

Marinella Senatore

Marinella Senatore (Queens Museum)

Senatore and Branda managed to fashion a narrative out of disparate elements that included bird song, protest chanting, church bells, spoken and sung words and a donkey braying — and many sounds that are harder to decipher.

Vincente said one of Magazzino’s goals, besides to advocate Italian artists, is to “showcase their connection to their community. We thought this would be a perfect fit for the Cold Spring community — and we were surprised how it extended naturally beyond that, demonstrating again that people want to make art together, it’s a natural desire.”

She said the museum hopes to share the symphony with a live audience once the pandemic is over. 

What I Heard

I listened to “Cold Spring Soundtrack” twice, jotting notes about how I felt while listening to the stream of sound. Here is an (abridged) excerpt:

Rooster crowing, propulsion, action sequence, a harbinger, exciting danger, piano, Fellini, uplift, birdsong, swirl, slowing, arriving, breathing, motif, bicycling, cymbals, crescendo, pieces of me, pieces of you, cello, mournful, building, Angel from Montgomery, liberty, justice, surging musical chant of Black Lives Matter, Buddhist chant, “I pledge allegiance,” one nation, getting under the covers at the end of a long day, beats like an old typewriter, “Try to Remember the kind of September,” church bells overlaid with piano, a piazza, all I’ll be is a prisoner of my mind.

Drum kit, symphonic, donkey braying, a baby’s gurgle. Spoken: thankful, be strong, be well. Foreboding, broken by sweet strings, bow-work, fade-out, bittersweet romance. Calling out your name in the rhythm of your heart. Don’t let your spirit… We are free, we are light, we are love. The trumpet again, or trombone? Competing stories. Too many leaders, no one to follow, too many words and promises too hard to swallow. A heralding. 

Flutes, an army march, enter the bigger horns, heavier. Dystopian sounds, dissonant, “that’s amore.” Drift by my window, the falling leaves of red and gold. It’s Sept. 22, 2020, either today or yesterday, the first day of fall. Cloudbreak, pierced sky, some light. Defeated cello, invincible percussion, strings, many instruments together, la dolce vita, a seaside promenade, hope, stirring hope. 

Progression, repetition, progression. Soaring, all joining together, trying for victory, energy, and again, the swirling, bombast, percussion, and ending — an actual ending to it. Finito!

What do you hear? Email me at [email protected] or post to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  ~A.R. 

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