Tetrapack+ (Students from METS Conservatory of Cuneo), based on an idea by Giuseppe Gavazza

“Tarots” is an electroacoustic composition created by five students from the METS (electronic music and sound engineering) department of the Cuneo Conservatory, each bringing with them a wealth of experience and different musical tastes. It was performed and presented as an interactive improvisation system built during a stay organised at the Château de Cerisy.

The experience came about as part of an electronic music composition course conducted by Giuseppe Gavazza with these five students and was inspired by Italo Calvino's book “The Castle of Crossed Destinies”. The week at the Castle of Cerisy, in the framework of the international seminar "How Does the World Sound" B-AIR Seminar in May 2023, created the opportunity to design and realise a collaborative project open to all seminar participants: some 50 people from different countries, languages, cultures and experiences crossed their destinies in this magnificent castle.

The tarot cards, which are at the narrative heart of this book, were taken as the core of the performance. In the novel, the use of tarot cards is made necessary in order to communicate in the castle between travellers who are inexplicably unable to speak: given the theme of the seminar and the skills involved, for all of us participants who deal with sounds, voices, radio broadcasts, listeners (Walter Benjamin's “Dear Invisibles” radio listeners) of the preverbal age of language and vulnerability, it has been an inspiring challenge.

The system resembles a game piece but is inspired more by tarot card reading, through a work of associating sounds to the cards of the Major Arcana and elaborating improvised and performative sound events. It also seeks to move away from the frontal realisation of a concert, surrounding the audience like an island and involving spectators who can interact with the musicians through the tarot cards gameplay.

The Practice

On the first day of the seminar, we presented the project in more detail. In the meantime, we had prepared a series of 50 short sounds (lasting between 5 and 10 seconds) to be proposed in listening sessions (via headphones or portable loudspeakers) open to anyone and during which:

- we selected 22 sounds,

- we associated them with the 22 Major Arcana cards (taking as reference the Tarot de Marseille, the same used by Calvin),

- we associated with the same Tarot (inverted) processes of musical composition and performance,

- we have established operational procedures to achieve a performance that we have conceived and rehearsed daily. This performance was concluded on the last evening with the tarot cards which were chosen and proposed by the audience to the musicians who performed in the centre of the hall.

See also: Cerisy Days