: Gruppo d'Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza :
member of the group from 1965-73
Rome, August 1964, Franco Evangelisti, Aldo Clementi (Nuova Consonanza)
and John Heineman (American Academy) met the composer Larry Austin, a temporary
guest of the Academy and member of N.M.E. (New Music Ensemble) of Davis
University in California. Austin played them a recording of the improvisations
of his group. Struck by the possibilities inherent in this new way of music-making,
they decided to found a similar group formed by composer-performers: so
the first European group of collective improvisation was born which, according
to the wish of Franco Evangelisti, took the name of the Nuova Consonanza
As well as Evangelisti and Clementi (piano) and Heineman (trombone, cello), the group in this initial phase included also William O. Smith, American composer and clarinetist at that time a guest of the Academy; shortly afterwards, Ennio Morricone (trumpet) and Walter Branchi (double bass) also joined the group.
The following year, Evangelisti managed to overcome the initial doubts and hesitations of Mario Bertoncini and include the then young composer and pianist as a permanent member of the instrumental ensemble. The young musician brought the group the results of his research on percussion instruments and the piano (continuous sounds obtained with the bow and by means of long lines attached to the piano wires and to the suspended cymbals, etc.) and took on the role of percussionist in the recently formed instrumental team.
The characteristics which contributed to emphasizing the substantial difference between the Nuova Consonanza Improvisation Group (G.I.N.C.) and other contemporary groups subsequently formed, including the so-called "free jazz" of those very same years, can be synthesized as follows:
- first of all, the definite wish on the part of all the members of the GINC. to take part in collective extemporaneous composition, excluding inflexibly any traditional form of soloist participation;
- secondly, the total independence from any pattern or scheme.
The group makes free use of a post-serial vocabulary stylistically referable to the aesthetics of the "Informal": clearly identifiable melodic and rhythmic cells are intentionally disguised and fragmented by the combined action of the various instrumental "gestures" which in this way lose, in the general context, any separate significance, any individual meaning. Each member of the group has a clear idea of the role of his participation in the whole: the single "gesture" consists in adding to the overall picture a colour, a tessera; the dialectics based on the contrast of one voice, which dominates, and others, which accompany, has lost for these musicians as much significance as the concept of form understood as a predetermined opposition of contrasting elements arranged arbitrarily in time and not compatible with the vocabulary chosen - or if we prefer - dictated by the musical grammar of the time.
By unanimous decision on the part of the whole group, exercises at rehearsal in no way assumed the value and role of schematic formulae, but rather constituted a consecutive study of the various behaviours (action/reaction, appraisal of a particular sound "gesture" as a signal, etc.) relative to the collective musical dynamics.
It is not possible here to give a detailed exposition of the preparatory techniques which animated the sessions of the GINC; it is sufficient to recall the fact that the music produced then, in the form of records or of broadcasts, now meets (more than thirty years later) with an always increasing favourable response on the part of a public which is also young and for that reason not motivated by any nostalgic or historically questionable considerations.