“Conservation-Restoration-Publication of the Works of Luigi Nono” is the title of a study day to take place on 27th May at the Fondazione Archivio Luigi Nono in Venice. The event has been organised on the occasion of the completion of the conservation work on the magnetic tapes for La fabbrica illuminata and Como una ola de fuerza y luz – carried out for the trust by the University of Udine Music Department’s Laboratorio MIRAGE – and of the critical edition of La fabbrica illuminata, edited by Luca Cossettini (Ricordi, Milan, 2010).
In the early nineties Casa Ricordi set itself the task of publishing an edition of the scores of Luigi Nono containing live electronics. The object of the project was to reconstruct the composer’s technical, performance and stylistic guidelines so as to facilitate the realisation of the pieces both from the vocal and instrumental point of view and in terms of the electronic elaboration of the sound. As an integral part of the project Casa Ricordi commissioned the audio laboratories of the University of Udine’s Creative Arts Faculty music department to conserve and restore the magnetic tapes that Nono had made. In collaboration with the RAI studios in Milan the original audio documents were transformed into digital form and subsequently work was begun on the restitution of the works: the critical analysis of the sources, the actual material edition – suitable for concert use – and the restoration of the audio conceived as a constituent part of the critical edition. The new critical edition of La fabbrica illuminata, for soprano and magnetic tape raised a series of methodological problems in relation to the condition of the audio document and its relationship with traditional forms of musical notation. What proved inevitable then was a multidisciplinary approach: for the manuscript notation recourse was made to the instruments of the philology of musical texts; for the electronic component, on the other hand, the study of the texture of the recorded sound was conducted along phonological lines, reconstructing the interaction between composer, sound technician and the apparatuses for recording/production/playback as well as the transmission and distribution of the audio documents (copies for live concerts, record industry recordings, recordings for radio). Once the history of the transmission of the various documents was reconstructed and after all the authoritative witnesses had been consulted, it was essential to study the relationship between the texture of the sound and the musical text in each “evolutionary stage” that the sources passed through. The essence of the challenge was to understand, in the texts and between the texts, the relationship between those two dimensions, or, in other words, the essential constitutive element of the composition.