In Another Sound Dimension

    In Another Sound Dimension

    Refavela
    By Brazzil Magazine

    Since the mid-seventies Uakti (wak-chi),[1] a group of orchestral players
    from Minas Gerais state, has been teasing the sublime from silence and
    breaking down the doors of Western European notation and instrumentation.
    A laboratory for expanding musical parameters, Uakti has added a special
    magic to the work of Mílton Nascimento, Marlui Miranda, and Paul
    Simon. At the same time, by playing specially constructed instruments and
    embracing elements of Balinese gamelan, minimalism, jazz, and aleatory
    music, they have defied marketing categories.

    With the release of their eighth disc, Trilobyte, Uakti has moved
    even farther into the uncharted realms of musical consciousness. The group’s
    recent U.S. tour took them from Stanford, California, to Boston’s World
    Music Festival. While Uakti was in Los Angeles I spoke with Artur Andrés
    Ribeiro, Uakti’s flautist and spokesperson, for what turned out to be a
    meeting with a remarkable man.

    Artur, at the show last night you said, "Villa-Lobos is a river
    that Brazilian musicians are always returning to and drinking from."

    Yes, I feel that Villa-Lobos is a celestial person, like a comet that
    doesn’t pass very often. I feel that there is a mission behind his incarnation.
    But there are other musicians that create this influence, that have this
    mission. Sometimes when you hear the works of Bach, there is something
    so profound, so um… a resonance that continues centuries after him. And
    Mozart too. You feel that all the notes he has written are… how do you
    say that? Clean. Everything is in the right place. There are pieces of
    Villa-Lobos that I don’t like. Seriously. I listen, and I think, `This
    is strange; I don’t like it.’ But he has so many creative solutions orchestrally
    and in the melody and the harmony, in the rhythm, that it’s incredible.
    The Bachianas are something very special. They are a review of Bach, have
    the influence of Bach, but they are also very, very Brazilian. They are
    very, very Villa-Lobos. It’s incredible how he could keep this balance.

    On Mapa Uakti recorded Ravel’s Bolero.

    The Bolero was a very interesting experience. Marco had this
    very simple idea. Always, he has simple and fantastic ideas. This Bolero,
    heard live is even more interesting because you can see the instruments.
    It’s percussive and uses gourds submerged in water. You have principally
    three kinds of sounds: a low frequency, and as you bring part of a gourd
    out of the water, you have a medium and then a high frequency (imitates
    the sound). With these three kinds of sounds we suggest the melody. Yea?
    As everybody knows the Bolero, we suggest the melody by the rhythm and
    by the difference of frequencies. It’s not temperate, of course. You use
    the memory of the people who are listening.

    Are there other composers Uakti plans to record?

    We have the possibility of releasing a very interesting work for our
    next album on the Point label. It’s a work that we recorded for a ballet
    group in Brazil called Grupo Corpo. They are the most important ballet
    group in Brazil. We worked with them on 21, which is the CD we just
    released in Brazil. This next work is a composition like 21 that
    uses geometric figures as a score.

    I understood the notational technique for the I Ching [2],
    but how do geometric figures work as a system of notation?

    Well, very simply, a triangle is 3/4, the square is 4/4, a pentagon
    is 5/4, the hexagon is 6/4, and so on. It’s really interesting. The ballet
    21 was a great success in Brazil and in Europe too. Marco worked
    closely with the choreographer. He knew the music that Marco had composed
    so well that he easily transposed it into dance. It’s very, very together.
    You know? Really nice.

    There is an overture where we use a counting cycle of 21 bars. The accents
    start on 21, then move to 20, then 19, 18, 17, until you come to 1. Then
    the cycle reverses until 21. You feel the measures accelerando. Yea? You’ve
    got to listen to that. This idea of measures accelerando and measures rallentando
    appears throughout the piece in different combinations. It’s very, very
    interesting. This concept is the foundation of the work, measures accelerando
    and measures ritardando. In the end you can listen to a very interesting
    combination, which is the 6, plus 5, plus 4, plus 3, plus 2, plus 1, that
    adds up to 21. After we recorded it we felt the plurality coming to the
    unity. This idea of returning to the unity and then moving to the plurality
    again is a really harmonious idea.

    And the dancers had no problem with the odd meters?

    No, none at all. They could feel the meter because the geometric figures
    provide a very simple score to follow. It’s very easy. We have worked with
    these kinds of scores all over the world in workshops with children and
    with old people, with adults. It’s incredible because people who have not
    played music, that know nothing about rhythm and who say that they can’t
    play any rhythm, can play very, very complicated combinations of rhythms
    by using geometric figures. Working with Marco is fantastic because we
    learn a lot about composition. There are many kinds of possibilities, and
    we are always trying to approach something new.

    Harry Partch created instruments because the sound he wanted, that
    he heard in his head, couldn’t be realized with traditional Western European
    instruments. Is it the same for Marco Antônio?

    Yes, I think so. Marco has this quality for researching different things
    all the time. He is always looking for something new, and in this way the
    old things are not so important for him. He is not attached to his past
    work or his compositions.

    Has Marco Antônio ever toured with Uakti?

    Yes, until ’93, I think. After that, he decided not to. He’s probably
    going to start traveling again, but not playing. He does not like to. He
    plays very well. He is one of the best instrumentalists I have known, so
    conscious. Everything he plays conveys his total awareness. But he prefers
    work as a composer and in the studio. He has a special mind for these kinds
    of things.

    You need one lifetime to perform and another to compose.

    Yea, yea, to perform you always have to practice. It’s impossible to
    divide your energy between playing and writing.

    Can you tell me a little about Marco’s teacher, Walter Smetak?

    This was a very spiritual man. He was a Swiss-Brazilian, a cellist and
    a composer. In Bahia he started working with these new instruments. He
    had a different approach than Marco for constructing instruments. But sometimes
    Marco uses some of his mentor’s ideas. The musical work of Smetak was much
    more…microtonal. He was considered a crazy guy. All the instruments had
    a concept, a visual concept and a spiritual concept too. Marco has worked
    more with the musical. He is not so worried about the formal, visual, external
    appearance, but more the sound. And Marco composes more for the instruments.
    But Smetak had a very strong influence on Marco’s career. I think that
    it changed his way of approaching music. He went to Bahia to study conducting
    and cello and came back an instrument designer and composer.

    Artur, we started to talk about a new project. Can you tell me more
    about it?

    Yes, after 21, the Grupo Corpo was interested in another special
    work for dance. They have a nice sponsor, Shell Oil, and always have completely
    new music. Milton wrote "Maria Maria" especially for them; it
    was the first ballet they danced many years ago. So, they had this idea
    of asking Philip Glass to write the music and for Uakti to adapt Philip’s
    music for our instruments. He wrote around 12 themes. Marco selected the
    seven he wanted to work with, the themes that would sound best with our
    instruments. The title of this work is "Seven or Eight Pieces for
    a Ballet."

    The overture, which Marco wrote, will be performed with the curtain
    closed. This overture is built on a sequence that Marco has often used.
    It’s very simple. You start with the notes FACE, and then the upper thirds,
    the sharp 7th and the 5th, go down a step; so you have FABD. Then the other
    thirds, the fundamental and the 3rd go down to make EGBD. And then this
    one goes and this one goes…You can experiment. It’s very simple. Marco
    has used this sequence in many places on Coletânea. After the overture,
    the Philip Glass music begins. It really is a very special work. I like
    this. I think it could be the best work of Uakti. Very, very interesting
    because you have this minimalistic way that Philip composes combined with
    the characteristic sound of our instruments and our many improvisations.
    So it’s a more free, more fresh Philip Glass.

    I was talking to our record director yesterday and was about to suggest
    that we include some arrangements of Villa-Lobos when he asked what I thought
    we should record to complete the CD. I said, "We have some beautiful
    arrangements of the Bachianas Brasileiras." He screamed, "Oh!
    I’m crazy about this music." I said, "Everybody is crazy about
    this music. We ought to record this." We’re going to record "Trem
    Caipira" and "Ária" (Cantiga) from Bachianas Brasileiras
    No. 4. It’s a very interesting arrangement that uses the pan (PVC pipes).
    It is very difficult to play. I don’t know how Paulo can play it on that
    instrument. It’s extremely fast. Milton once recorded an arrangement of
    the "Ária" (sings).

    Will the disc be released this year?

    Well, we are interested in releasing it by the end of ’97 or the beginning
    of ’98. We don’t want to wait too long between releases like with the I
    Ching . Three years is too much time

    Philip Glass has been the executive producer for two discs. How much
    input does he have on the music of Uakti?

    Nowadays you can say the best thing to do is, not do. Sometimes, yea?
    This is probably Philip’s strongest quality. He keeps you completely free
    to do what you want. This is very hard for people to do nowadays.

    Record producers always feel obligated to tamper a little.

    "Let’s just take something…(laughs). What do you think if you
    do that?" But Philip is the best executive producer we’ve had because
    he doesn’t say anything, and he only smiles. He smiles much more than most
    of the people I know. He always has a smile on his face. And it’s very
    sincere. He’s a very special man. You can believe that. I always feel so
    good when I’m with him. I feel like he’s a child. His questions are always
    so pure, so simple. I don’t feel the ego. You know? You sit beside some
    people, you feel the ego. But with Philip, I cannot feel it. He works closely
    with the Dalai Lama. This is very special . Some executive producer!

    How have things been working with the Point label, the management,
    the support for new releases?

    Around five or six years ago, Philip Glass was invited by Polygram to
    create a label, inside Philips Classics, inside Polygram, for music that
    is not contemporary music or even jazz, something that is more like world
    music, but not New Age. We were the first artists invited to work with
    Point. Mapa was the first CD that Point released. Working with Point
    is a very nice experience because the people are very warm and musical.
    Point is Philip Glass’s label, and all the people that work with Philip
    like him very much and like what they are doing. I feel that.

    Uakti has recorded an entire work titled I Ching, and on the
    new disc you have recorded "Trilogy For Krishna." It seems like
    the group is searching musically and spiritually at the same time.

    In some ways, I feel that Uakti is transformed by the music. I always
    say that we are not instrumentalists; we are instruments for the instruments.
    We have to be open for them, and they want to say something. You have to
    be like a channel for them to express.

    Artur, are you a Buddhist?

    No, I follow a school that comes from Buddhism, the Gurdjieff school
    in Minas. In the United States there is also the Gurdjieff foundation.
    This man, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, was a remarkable man. He was born
    at the end of the last century and died in ’49. He journeyed for 20 years
    through the Middle East and Central Asia working in many monasteries in
    Tibet and with Sufis. His mission was to bring oriental knowledge to the
    occident by passing it through a language we could understand. Buddhism
    is wonderful, but for us it is really difficult to understand how to leave
    things, to rid ourselves of worldly attachments.

    I feel there is something we have to learn during our adult lives, mostly
    because our education is completely disconnected about these ideas. All
    our education, here in the West is to educate the mind. You see, in America
    all the people are big mushrooms; not only the United States, all America,
    South America, and Europe—the West. Reality cannot be seen because we have
    so many dreams, so many imaginations in the mind that we cannot connect
    with the real life that exists outside ourselves. Gurdjieff says that we
    have to learn how to work with two cerebrals at the same time. This is
    another level of being. To do that I have to learn to divide my attention,
    not in one center, but in two simultaneously. Gurdjieff embraced the idea
    of working with the body. Because the body is always here. The body, from
    the first second I am on this planet until the last second I am going to
    be here, is always with me, and it is heavenly. But we cannot learn this
    because all of our schools don’t have this to give us. We have to find
    a school.

    Gurdjieff used the idea of known identification. It’s interesting. You
    are here. This tape recorder is here, but you are not a tape recorder.
    But you are here. You have to practice this self-remembering. It’s like
    being aware that you are here inside this body all the time. Wherever you
    are, you can remember you, yourself. You know? When you are in a strange
    place and you feel, Oh, I am here, in this place. And you can feel that
    you are inside, feel your body, and feel you are alive in that place. Same
    as the Buddhists.

    The way that Gurdjieff works is very interesting because the best exercise
    we do is relaxing. We learn how to relax starting from the head, and move
    throughout the body. Not a passive relaxation, but a very active one. Close
    the eyes, and relax the whole body. And keep feeling, learning how to feel.
    Relaxing, but actively, very aware, awake inside. Yea? Not sleeping. And
    the movements, this dance, we always work with this. I have to learn how
    to move my body, relaxing, feeling my body. If I am feeling my left arm
    now, it means that part of my attention is in this part of my body. So
    as I’m talking with you, I have a connection with the sensation of my left
    arm. You know? So this is one possibility of being with two centers, not
    with one. It’s like an anchored boat. The sea wants to get your boat for
    this hour, but you are here. The sensation is something that is incredible
    for us who have to play on stage.

    I always do that in the presentations. I feel my right leg, and then
    I feel my left leg while I’m playing. In the beginning it is difficult,
    but if you understand that…And you have to practice. It’s like playing.
    You start with just the tenacity for playing, for moving. Yea? It’s very
    special. This is the second level. The third level is being with the three
    centers together. This is another thing. A very far thing, but it is the
    goal.

    The body, emotion, and mind?

    Principally the emotion. Relaxing this part takes years. Well, there
    are years of tension here. Yea? We have to try to get close to this emotional
    world, and then things change. Everything, all these truths, these schools,
    are truly different fingers pointing for the same moon.

    I feel a very nice sentiment for the Dalai Lama. He has delightful energy.
    But Gurdjieff has been a stronger influence for me. Working with his ideas
    and practicing his teachings has changed my life. It’s incredible. He is
    dead but the consciousness continues. You know he has music. He has very,
    very special music. You can find it. He worked with a disciple named Thomas
    de Hartmann. There is a film too of his life called Meeting With Remarkable
    Men directed by Peter Brook, an English director, very famous. I think
    you can buy this tape. It’s wonderful. It’s his life. Yea? His autobiography
    in different monasteries. He worked with dance, sacred dance. And he wrote
    hundreds of compositions for his movements. It’s really, really special
    music.

    You ought to listen to this. There is a recording of piano music that
    was made by Thomas de Hartmann. He died a few years after Gurdjieff in
    ’56, but they worked together with this music. There is, I think, a 3 CD
    set. Triangle Editions is the record company. All the works of Gurdjieff
    are good for meditation. His music is really, really special.

    Is there one ultimate concept that guides Uakti?

    For me it’s very difficult to say. It’s like I am in the rain. I cannot
    see from inside what’s happening outside. I have been in this rain for
    20 years. From inside it is difficult to compare. I think it is that people
    are always trying to feel comfortable wherever they are, even though the
    world is not like that. The real world has difficulties all the time. What
    I think is interesting is that at all times there are two sides of the
    energy. That’s clear. The third side is very difficult to find, this balance
    that the Dalai Lama always speaks of when he says "You have to be
    in the middle." Yea? It’s the third energy. The third energy only
    appears when the opposite sides are together, and never in our lives are
    both sides together. We are sad or we are happy, and then come to be sad
    again, then happy. We are never in the middle. That’s what Gurdjieff says
    all the time. We always connect, but 90% of the people are always connecting
    with the negative side. Yea?

    We learn this in our education, from our parents, and from all these
    people that are around, that everything is very bad. Everything is negative
    and becomes negative because we are planting negative thoughts, and we
    take this into the future. It’s clear Last night I was talking with Décio’s
    daughter. She’s at an age where everything she sees is not good. Not enough.
    She’s 18 years old. Everything is bad. The food’s not good. The Chinese
    food is too spicy. I told her, "You ought to connect with the positive
    things that are happening when you are in L.A.. All the people from Brazil
    who are your age would like to be in the United States, probably in L.A."
    Yea? "You are not with your boyfriend. You don’t have your own food
    to eat, but you have to be flexible." With the music of Uakti, I feel
    that the soul of this music is the way we are trying to approach something
    more positive. I think it is only that. And in such a way we are trying
    to find something positive for ourselves. The results are only a consequence
    of that. Each one of us in his own way is trying to become a little bit
    better.

    Artur, do you come from a musical family?

    No. My mother, Maria Ilelena Andrés, is a famous painter in Brazil.
    "Trilogy for Krishna" is dedicated to her. She lived in India
    for many years and still goes there often. She followed Krishnamurti for
    many years, and she came here too, to Ojai. She was the person who introduced
    me to Gurdjieff.

    "Trilogy for Krishna" is a gorgeous piece. How did it come
    about?

    The way this composition developed is interesting. It evolved from an
    improvisation I recorded four years ago. I had gone into the studio and
    said, "Turn on. I’m going to play." I started playing some ideas
    on the alto flute with some effects. Everything was done casually, but
    the results were so nice that I later transcribed everything I had played.

    On Trilobyte, the flute section that has three flutes is "Krishna
    One." I was really pleased it came out so close to my original ideas.
    There were some effects of reverb that I asked Michael Riesman to help
    me with. He’s the conductor of the Philip Glass Ensemble and a first-class
    sound engineer who came down to Brazil to work with us on Trilobyte.
    He used a very deep, cavern-like reverb, and it was exactly what I had
    in mind.

    "Trilogy" is a composition that works with the idea of three
    powers. There is a very old knowledge that says in the absolute there is
    no division; it is unity. In the world just beyond that first dimension,
    but very close to the unity, the second dimension is divided by three.
    That’s the trilogy that always appears like Father, Son, and Spirit; or
    Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; positive, negative, and neutral. Gurdjieff calls
    this knowledge Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, and Holy Reconciling.

    "Krishna One" is the affirmative, just flutes that are continuous
    (sings the part), like something affirmative. For "Krishna Two"
    we used the tower [3]. I wrote a canon [4], an eleven note sequence for
    the instrument. Everything happens over this sequence. There is a canon
    with this sequence and then with the marimbas. After that is established,
    the pans, the PVC pipes enter. Finally a melody appears that is a beautiful
    mantra for Krishna that a very good friend of mine, a flautist, chanted
    for me. It’s very simple but wonderful (sings). It’s in eleven and for
    Krishna. And I found out something that was really interesting. This mantra
    has been continuously sung in a monastery in India or Nepal since 1939.
    It is being sung now and has been sung uninterruptedly since 1939.

    Since 1939!

    Yes. A monk started to chant the mantra. Two or three hours after, another
    monk came to chant the mantra. The process has continued every day, all
    day, all night, since that time. It’s incredible. This is objective art.
    It is really objective. It’s incredible because it is something so simple,
    yet so powerful that it is bringing a little harmony to this crazy world.

    I was surprised to find Elomar’s "Arrumação"
    on Trilobyte.

    Well, this version of Elomar’s "Arrumação" is
    one Uakti was invited to make for a TV program organized by a Brazilian
    singer named Saulo Laranjeira. He has a program named "Arrumação"
    (Straightening Up) that always opens with Elomar’s music. It’s a program
    where guest artists present their music live. He uses our arrangement as
    an introduction to the show. Two years ago he asked us to make the arrangement.
    I was happy with this arrangement after I made it, so we decided to include
    it on Trilobyte.

    "The Secret of the 17 Nuts" is a puzzling title. What is
    its significance?

    Ah, this is a long story. In reality it’s a spiritual exercise that
    I have worked with in the past. It’s a very powerful exercise. Only few
    people have received this kind of…It changed my life…It’s a long story.

    Really? Tell me. What is the exercise?

    Well, it works with a very special energy. And it took many hours a
    day to practice. Every 17 minutes you have to do these exercises by eating
    fruit and nuts. The number 17 appears all the time. It’s difficult to describe
    exactly. It works with kundalini energy in order to open the channels more.
    I practiced four or five times in my life and had to prepare mentally to
    make it and to have the time because it takes six continuous days. It’s
    something I cannot talk about, but it’s something that changed my life.
    Really.

    Is this something that you just started practicing in the last two
    years?

    No, I started around 10 years ago. And after that, I left this. But
    I’ve felt the results of this practice each day. I feel exactly when my
    energy goes down and when my energy goes up. This is a long story. There
    is a man in Brazil who has a connection with some very friendly extraterrestrial
    beings.

    Not Paulo Coelho?

    No, It’s another guy from Brasília. We became friends. So this
    composition is dedicated to him and his method.

    You dedicated "Music For An Ancient Greek Temple" to Philip
    Glass.

    Yes. When we were composing 21, I was very involved working with
    the Gurdjieff group, but I was very influenced by this person from Brasília
    that I mentioned, this contacted person. We say contacted by aliens. And
    he could explain many things to me that were happening in my life that
    I couldn’t explain.

    We were just recording 21. Most of the composition was being
    done in the studio. It was January, and we were on a short vacation at
    my farm. It’s around 100 kilometers from Belo Horizonte. We had been building
    a number of structures there in order to receive Gurdjieff groups for weekend
    retreats. And it was one of the first nights that I was sleeping in my
    house, which had just been finished. I had this dream. But it wasn’t a
    dream because it was really different. It was something very special. I
    was out of body and completely conscious of what was happening.

    I was driving my car. And at a certain moment, on the road going to
    Belô, someone took me out of my body. But it was completely…I was
    dreaming and at the same time I was wide awake in the dream. And I went
    up, and the car stopped at that point in the road. It was exactly at the
    point I have to pass through when I go to my farm. I was going up, and
    up, and up, and then they let me down. Yea? I went down directly, 90 degrees.
    I don’t know how long I stayed in this place. It’s a place that exists
    in a very strange land where they mine minerals. There were many cuts in
    the mountains. It’s a very ugly place if you look with your normal eyes.
    But it was like I was inside a temple. All the buildings were like temples.
    And there were beings on a very high level of consciousness.

    Yea? It’s strange but they spoke with their minds. One word had such
    a deep message that you could not only comprehend it with the mind, but
    with the whole body. Immediately the body and the mind together received
    a feeling and understood. And there was one word I could remember in the
    dream. I kept it in my mind, but I couldn’t remember it when I woke up.
    But this word meant, among many other things, that I had completed one
    half of my mission musically and in regard to the big constructions I had
    made on my farm for people to have workshops.

    I was shown a dance movement. It was like a Gurdjieff work. We work
    with movement, line, and turns. You have to be always aware, counting silently,
    feeling some part of the body. At the same time you have to move exactly
    the legs and the arms and the head at the same time. It’s very complicated,
    but incredible. They showed me a movement that involved six lines of people.
    Six people. Then one of these people went behind another, so I only saw
    five. And then another person went behind someone, and I saw four. And
    three, and two, and one. And then everybody appeared again. I saw six.
    It was exactly the six, five, four, three, two, one of the 21.

    In this experience they showed me that. In the rhythm, it was exactly
    that. But it was strange because they did not explain it like I’m trying
    to explain it to you. It came so fast that you comprehend exactly what’s
    happening. That is the plurality coming to the unity and then moving to
    the plurality again. And it’s always this movement. Eternal movement. Yea?
    The rhythm was exactly that. It was fascinating to experience this. After
    that, it was very strange because I was in a very high level of consciousness.
    I’ve never been in such a highly conscious state.

    Then I passed into another dimension that exists in the same place,
    but it was like the first floor. I had been on the second floor, and I
    came down to the first floor. There were people. I could feel the people
    more individually. I could feel the egos more. On the other floor there
    was no ego. Everyone had been the same. You were connected with the same
    eternity. But on this first floor, I could feel.. I talked with other people
    there about the experience I had just had on the higher level, and one
    guy said, "Oh, of course, I have had this experience many times."

    I felt that. Yea? It’s not like where we are now. Here it’s worse. It
    was very nice being able to compare it to here. I tried to explain this
    to them. It was curious because they explained to me that Philip Glass
    worked in this temple too and had many recordings here. (I’ve never talked
    with anybody about this. You’re the first guy I’ve ever talked to about
    this.) Philip worked at this temple, and he had many compositions that
    he had dedicated to them. This was a Greek temple that existed in Greece
    a thousand years ago and has moved to South America now. I don’t know why.
    They are there. It’s like a school. You know when people are sleeping the
    more conscious part of the self…There are many people that work there.

    Probably you have your own temple, and you don’t know about it. They
    showed me Philip’s records, the covers of the records, but I can’t remember.
    I can’t remember what the lettering on the records said (laughs). So, I
    wrote "Music for an Ancient Greek Temple" and dedicated it to
    Philip. He doesn’t know about this. I think you don’t have to write this.
    Only if you want.

    The music has a mysterious quality about it.

    It starts with the big water instrument called the aqualung that uses
    water falling into two PVC pipes, one just a little bit thinner, which
    fits inside the other and slides up or down to vary pitch. It sounds like
    a stream trickling over rocks that sirens up and down like a soft trombone.
    Conceptually it’s a little like the borel that Décio plays.

    The new disc is called Trilobyte and contains a composition
    called "Trilobita Two." Uakti has designed an instrument called
    Trilobita. And on Mapa there is a tune titled "Trilobita."

    Yea, it’s always in our lives. This instrument is a virtuoso’s instrument.
    It’s normally played with four hands, Paulo and Décio. "Trilobita
    Two" is one of Paulo’s compositions, and it’s very interesting. There
    is a counting cycle of one hundred beats.

    Groups of ten, ten, ten…?

    No, no, it’s more complicated than that. Paulo has to explain it to
    you because I cannot explain it well. But it’s an interesting arrangement
    to complete the one hundred count cycle. He knows better. I cannot explain
    exactly. It’s a superimposing of different bars and at one hundred they
    connect again then start another parallel cycle.

    In a tune like "Onze" are you concentrating on geometric
    patterns?

    Sometimes, but sometimes I’m just feeling. "Onze" (Eleven)
    is in eleven and like 21 uses a score of geometric figures. The
    idea is that the traditional way of writing music is very difficult for
    improvising because if I write a chart using 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 5/8 (Artur
    writes out the meter and bars on a piece of scrap paper), and you are supposed
    to improvise over that…OK? Complicated, yea? But if I write like this
    (draws geometrical shapes) 6/8 could be a little six pointed star, 5/8
    a little pentagon. Yea? Or instead of 6/8 you could have 6/4 and 5/4.

    It could be like this and the beat would always be the same. It’s very
    easy to read. Yea? You don’t have to think about it. You can always…It’s
    objective. You know? You use another side of the brain. We’re going to
    play "Onze" tonight, and it’s just incredible because the improvisation
    is always together in this language that Marco has created using geometric
    figures. It’s incredible because you can improvise easily over the three,
    four, six, five. You are feeling the beats, so it can be a much more free
    improvisation and still be together. You know? It’s incredible. You’ll
    have to try it.

    Does Uakti ever plan to use a vocalist?

    We have thought about that, and we thought about Marlui Miranda. We
    had a project recently to perform at a festival. The promoters wanted us
    to invite another artist, but they were interested more in the name than
    in the results. So we invited Mílton, Lô Borges, and Flávio
    Venturini, Mineiro (from Minas Gerais state) singers, composers.
    But we have had a very nice connection with Marlui from recording with
    her and have always been very fond of her work.

    We’re probably going to do something else together. A vocalist with
    Uakti would have to be someone like Bobby McFerrin or Marlui. You know?
    More to function like another instrument. We have this feeling that we
    ought to work one day with McFerrin. This would be great. His latest recording
    with a group of singers is incredible, incredible. Eight circles.

    Circular songs?

    Yes, vocal ostinatos. Do you know this recording? It’s the most important
    recording of his life. He’s a very spiritual musician. I feel that when
    he sings. Now he’s conducting. I believe he is working with the Minneapolis
    Symphony. He has been studying conducting and is now the assistant conductor
    for the Minneapolis Symphony.

    The tune "Parque das Emas" sounds like a circle song.

    Yes. It’s like a circular melody. You never feel where it starts. It
    repeats again at the octave and goes up. "Parque das Emas" is
    a very nice melody Marco wrote many years ago, and we fought with him to
    include it in this recording. It’s very simple (sings).

    It’s 4/4!

    (Sings and conducts) Yea. How unusual for Uakti (both laugh). If you
    listen to the I Ching it’s all in six.

    Artur, what are your plans for the future?

    Continue existing (laughs). It’s enough.

    1. Uakti was a legendary creature from the Amazon rain forest whose
    body was perforated with holes. The wind passing through his body created
    beautiful sounds that attracted the women of the Tucano Indian tribe whom
    Uakti seduced. The men of the tribe killed and buried Uakti. Time passed
    and palm tress grew on Uakti’s burial site. Wind instruments made from
    this palm wood produced melodies identical to Uakti’s. These instruments
    were only played in secret ceremonies away from the women of the tribe.

    2. The I Ching (Book of Changes) contains 64 hexagrams
    each made up of six solid or broken lines. In Uakti’s notation each solid
    line represents a quarter note, each broken line two eighth notes.

    3. The tower is a Uakti string instrument that is played by two members
    of the ensemble. The large cylindrical instrument, which stands on a cello
    end pin, is rotated by one player by means of a hand drill mechanism at
    the top of the instrument while the other player creates the tower’s eerie
    sound by contacting the strings at various angles with a loose horse-hair
    bow.

    4. Canon is the strictest form of musical imitation, in which two or
    more parts take up, in succession, the given subject note for note.

    5. Tudo e Todas as Coisas (All and Everything) is the name of
    ten books in three series written by G.I. Gurdjieff. The title was chosen
    by Marco Antônio Guimarães as an homage to Gurdjieff.

    *Special thanks to the Brazilian Culture Ministry

    Bruce Gilman, music editor for Brazzil, received
    his Masters degree in music from California Institute of the Arts. He leads
    the Brazilian jazz ensemble Axé and plays cuíca for escola
    de samba MILA. You can reach him through his E-mail: cuica@interworld.net

    Uakti’s Discography:

    21 DB-Open 1997 (recorded 92)

    Trilobyte Point Music/Philips Classics 1996

    I Ching Point Music/Philips Classics 1993

    Mapa Point Music/Philips Classics 1992

    Coletânea Verve/Polygram 1987

    Tudo e Todas as Coisas[5] Polygram 1984

    Uakti 2 Polygram 1982

    Uakti Oficina Instrumental Polygram 1981

    Uakti with other artists:

    Marlui Miranda Todos Os Sons Blue Jackel 5005-2 1995

    Milton Nascimento Encontros e Despedidas Polydor 827 638-2 1985

    Milton Nascimento Anima Verve 813296 1982

    Paul Simon The Rhythm of the Saints WB 26098 1990

    Recommended Discography:

    Philip Glass Songs from the Trilogy CBS MK45580 1989

    Thomas De Hartmann The Music of Gurdjieff/De Hartmann

    Triangle Editions TCD 1001-1003 1989

    Bobby McFerrin Circlesongs Sony SK62734 1997

    Michael Tilson Thomas Alma Brasileira New World Symphony

    Music of Villa-Lobos RCA 09026-68538-2 1996

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