Filipa Magalhães

“Rewriting” Constança Capdeville’s works through documentation production

Constança Capdeville (1937-1992) is one of the most relevant composers in contemporary Portuguese music, having had an extensive production in the scope of music-theatre. Her main works were performed between the 1970s and 1980s, making use of magnetic tape and other components such as light, dance, theatre and cinema. The magnetic tape is so crucial to Capdeville’s music-theatre performances as the other elements, however it is perceived as an “amalgam” that connects all these elements. However, this kind of work raises some problems for musicologists. As Alain Bonardi stated, the musicologist is simultaneously a listener and a composer, since studying a musical piece implies “rewriting” it (Bonardi, 2000: 13). Rewriting a musical piece is particularly difficult in the context of contemporary music, since this kind of music no longer relies solely on the score. Contemporary music may involve several components such as scores, scripts (containing scenic elements or other specific indications), audio, slides, texts or additional documentation. Capdeville’s collection is stored at the Portuguese National Library, and currently there are no defined strategies for documenting this type of works without the help of musicologists, as these works require a more comprehensive preservation action. These needs go beyond the act of active listening (as proposed by Bonardi, based on a set of interactions between listeners and musical documents), or the acts of closed listening or multimodal listening (as advocated by Barthet & Dixon when they were discussing the creation of software for musicologists), which should facilitate switching between closed and multimodal listening modes, interaction with scores and lyrics, and analysis and annotation of speech and music performance, using content-based Music Information Retrieval (MIR) techniques. They refer to a study in which ethnographic observations of musicologists studying historical recordings of classical music were conducted at the British Library (Barthet & Dixon, 2011: 353). In the case of Capdeville’s music-theatre works, however, such an idea is interesting but not enough, since the composer produced specific materials for each perfomer and they also took their own notes, which are now dispersed and are essential for the work to be understood. Accordingly, the software should also enable the production of documentation, including interviews with people involved in the performances, and its application in the representation of the work, as a means to articulate the elements of the work so that it can be recreated, since we can no longer count on the composer’s testimony in order to create an overview of the work. In this paper it will be addressed the importance of producing additional documentation to recreate the creative process, since the documents that exist are not enough to understand it as a whole. Concrete examples of works that demonstrate this need will be presented here, such as in Double and Federico.

Keywords: Constança Capdeville, Contemporary Portuguese Music, Production of Documentation, Music-Theatre, Recreation



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GIMC — CESEM, FCSH, Nova University, Portugal

Is a PhD Candidate at CESEM / NOVA FCSH, in Lisbon, attending a Doctoral Program in Musicology – Music as culture and cognition, funded by FCT – Fundac”a#o para a Cie$ncia e a Tecnologia. In her PhD research, she is particularly interested in developing methodologies and tools for the musicological study of music-theatre works, which includes electroacoustics. In 2013, she completed a Master Degree in Musical Arts: Music and Technology, under the theme “Survey on magnetic tape collections: evaluation of their state of preserva- tion”, also during that period of research, she attended an internship in the Phonogrammarchiv – Austrian Academy of Sciences, conducted by Nadja Wallaszkovits. She is currently a member of the GIMC (Research Group onContemporary Music).