A History of Electroacoustic Music in Portugal
From Unearthing The Music
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The following article from the MIC.PT Archive, “A History of Electroacoustic Music in Portugal” by the Portuguese composer António Ferreira, has been republished here with the kind permission of the Portuguese Music Research & Information Centre – wwww.mic.pt. You can read the original article by clicking here.
A History of Electroacoustic Music in Portugal
Electroacoustic music and musical digital technology scope and implications for the musical scene are well documented. A historic perspective usually starts with the aftermath of World War II, when electronics started to become a viable means for music composition. In electroacoustic music analogical and now digital tools are at the centre of the composer’s attention. In aesthetic terms, electroacoustic music has become a highly diverse field – described as electronic, concrete, acousmatic, computer music, ambient, soundscape, electronica or even as a kind of rebellious noise-art – but the tools and its use are largely shared between the genres. The diversity between styles is huge and the terms many. The music is mixed and produced for performance by loudspeakers either from a recording in digital/analogic format or with the use of portable electronics and computers. Having a big component of technology used in its creation and performance, it was dependent, at least until the latest technological advances, from the existence of institutions such as national radio/TV stations and universities, who gave the necessary technical and financial support for the composer’s activities.
Countries such as Portugal have always been peripheral to the dynamics of European culture: especially in music Portugal relied in no more than one man, personal links to musical centres of Europe and America. With very little institutional support, the organization of cultural activity has been radically dispersed and isolated. That meant for many composers a trek to other countries in Europe and North America in order to get information, contacts and further formal training – more so in such specific field as is electroacoustic music. As for Portugal the situation improved after the Revolution of 25 of April 1974. If we accept the idea that a musical culture arises because people associate in order to make and listen to music, the free flow of information, goods and people made possible by the regime change allowed the establishment of numerous individuals and heterogeneous organizations who created various artistic networks. We can find now in Portugal the observed co-habitation as in other countries of institutionally and state backed (albeit in a very erratic way) practice of electroaocustic music with low/hi-tech, entrepreneurial and performance-backed individuals and organizations – a very small but rich diverse field embracing many influences. So the history of electroacoustic music in Portugal will be told as the voice of a few individual pioneers and a little more numerous actual composers – but with no “centres” or “national” aesthetic currents.
2. The elusive quest for an electroacoustic music studio in Portugal
The availability and affordability of recent technology allowed for the creation of numerous private studios. Indeed, many recent and old compositions were created outside traditional institutions, whose tackling of electroacoustic composition, either by the creation or modernization of dedicated studios is relatively recent. Most Portuguese composers either with institutional or private funds established the first contacts and produced their first compositions in foreign institutions and centres. Pioneers like Jorge Peixinho - who worked in the Electronic Studio of Bilthoven, the Netherlands (1960) and in the IPEM studio in Ghent, Belgium (1972) – produced one of his compositions in the Electronic Studio of GMEB-Bourges, France in 1977. Others like Cândido Lima worked and produced pieces on the UPIC system at the CEMAMu in Vincennes, France (1977-1981). Both Filipe Pires and Álvaro Salazar worked in the GRM studios in Paris, France during 1971-1972.
In more recent times the trend continued. Composers like João Pedro Oliveira, Amílcar Vasques-Dias, Isabel Soveral, Tomás Henriques, António Ferreira worked in several international institutions ranging from the Institute of Sonology, Den Haag, Holland to American Universities with connections to the composition of what American composers called “electronic tape music” – Columbia University, University of New York-Stony Brook, Buffalo University, etc. Others like António de Sousa Dias, João Rafael, Virgílio de Melo and Miguel Azguime either worked and maintained contacts with music centers in France, Belgium, Germany or - like Pedro Rebelo at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland - established themselves in other countries. Even composers connected to the improvisation scene like Rafael Toral became notorious after their stay and performances in the USA. Because of chronic lack of institutional support or interest the notion of the traditional electroacoustic studio based on the idea of providing composers with idiosyncratic technology with assistance from technicians and musical assistants was never a reality in Portugal, in contrast with other countries (Germany, Italy, France) in the 1950s and 1960s.
While there were departments dedicated to acoustics in the Technical Universities of Lisbon and Porto, sometimes with substantial technical and computing facilities, no links were made either with conservatories, composers or music schools. Likewise, the national radio organization ENRDP (Emissora Nacional - Rádio Difusão Portuguesa) had a symphonic orchestra since 1943 but the intention to establish an autonomous electroacoustic music studio using whatever technical facilities available never went beyond the phase of intention. Still, composers like Cândido Lima, who managed to use the technical facilities of the radio studios of RDP/Porto for mixing the sound sources of some of his compositions, like Autómatos de Areia/Galets (1979-84), A-mér-es (1978-1979), even tough the main compositional work was always made in France. Of course, funds permitting, nothing precluded the use of commercial studios for final mastering of compositions, like João Pedro Oliveira's modification of his piece Tríptico (1991) accomplished in the AuraStudio.
Only since the beginning of the 1990s dedicated electroacoustic music studios were established in the National Conservatory – later ESML (Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa) – in Lisbon, at the Escola Superior de Música do Porto - later ESMAE - in Porto and in the University of Aveiro (in the Arts & Communication Department), through the dedication of composers such as João Pedro Oliveira (Aveiro), António de Sousa Dias (Lisbon), Cândido Lima (Porto) and Álvaro Salazar (Porto). These enabled a young generation of composers to get familiar and experience with the tools of electroacoustic music composition. Nevertheless, mainly for lack of financial support, these institutions were unable to commission works from composers outside the academic world. Still, technical means available were not substantial and also had to be used for tuition.
All this reflects the fact that for most composers, regardless of their formal qualifications, composing with electroacoustic means and techniques meant building a personal studio, mostly through private funding. Still, the actual state of technology for music creation, its portable nature, affordability and facility of access to means and information makes the existence of the personal studio and electronic instruments a real possibility. Enabling the creation of a personalized set of tools for music composition and performance, this fact is the main responsible for the increase of activity in the field of electroacoustic music in Portugal in the last few years.
3. Composers: past and present
In accordance with the scope of this article, only composers / performers with activity in electroacustic music composition were considered. Although many composers mentioned here are active both in instrumental / score composition and elctroacoustic composition, there was a restriction to pieces made exclusively to be presented through loudspeakers both from an analogical or digital storage media and from electronic/digital sound devices. The scope is also broadened to composers not affiliated with institutions or related to classical music, but who are nevertheless responsible for some stimulating music and contributed to an international Portuguese presence.
3.1 Archetypal mavericks
Composer Jorge Peixinho (1940-1995) represents the archetypal maverick, being one of the most important Portuguese composers since the 1960s. Striving for existence in an indifferent and sometimes hostile environment, Peixinho had the support of the Gulbenkian Foundation and managed to study with G. Petrassi, P. Boulez, L. Nono and Stockhausen in Rome, Venice and Basel between 1961 and 1968 – along with several Darmstadt summer courses. His presence has been vital to the establishment of experimental music in Portugal. After some work in the Electronic Studio of Bilthoven, Holland (1960) and in the IPEM studio in Gant, Belgium (1972) he created Elegia a Amílcar Cabral for tape in 1973, homage to the murdered leader of the PAIGC. This composition was released in LP in 1974. Peixinho also created several compositions in the Electronic Studio of GMEB-Bourges, France in 1979, 1989 and 1992 but until now these pieces still have not been released nor edited.
Filipe Pires (1934) has obtained several grants that enabled him to study in Berlin, Hamburg and Darmstadt. From 1970 to 1972, with the support of the Gulbenkian Foundation, he studied electroacoustic music with Pierre Schaeffer at the GRM in Paris. Through the 1970s Filipe Pires created his electroacoustic compositions: Litania (1972), Homo Sapiens (1972), Reportagem (1974), Canto Ecuménico (1979), these being later released in a LP edition. He afterwards included electroacoustic elements in several of his compositions for multimedia (Tordesyalta, 1982-1983). Composer Cândido Lima (1939) also got a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation between 1963 and 1972 and in 1973 he started collaboration with Iannis Xenakis. He was one of the first Portuguese composers to use the computer both in composition and teaching. In 1977-1978 he worked and researched at the CEMAMu at Vincennes, France and also at IRCAM, Paris, producing several of his electroacoustic compositions using the UPIC system.
From his vast catalogue of compositions several were made with electroacoustic and computer techniques: Oceanos (1978-1979), Oceanos (1978-1980), Toiles II (1978-1980), Toiles IV (1978-1980), Toiles III (1978-1981), A-mér-es (1978-1979), Músicas da Terra (1982), Autómatos da Areia (1978-1984), Galets (1982-1983), Lendas de Neptuno (1987) and Música dos objectos e do acaso (1991) for multimedia. One has to mention composer Álvaro Salazar (1938) who with the help of the Gulbenkian Foundation, studied with Pierre Schaeffer at the GRM in Paris in 1970 and was a teacher of electroacoustic composition at the Escola Superior de Música do Porto – later called ESMAE. And composer José Lopes e Silva (1937) who studied with F. Pires, J. Peixinho, G. Ligeti and I. Xennakis, among others and produced some electroacoustic compositions: Fragmentos (1974) and Tentações for dancers and tape (1990).
3.2 Creating possibilities
Since the beginning of 1980s the Portuguese musical scene (at least some parts of it) got a breath of fresh ideas and attitudes both in the field of music teaching and information availability while there was an increase of the international circulation of people and ideas. But as for electroacustic composition, composers still needed to make an international trek to foreign centres in order to get information, contacts and specific technical training. On the other hand, this partial renovation of the Portuguese musical scene allowed for the development of a generation of composers with improved technical competences, especially in the restricted area of electroacoustic music. In addition, electronic instruments (synthesizers and MIDI controllers), personal computers and music related software, both commercial and noncommercial (Csound in 1986, Max in 1988), were all starting to become available at an affordable price. This enabled some composers to build electroacoustic music studios in educational institutions as well as private studios. Three composers stand out especially for their relevant work teaching electroacoustic music composition to the present generation of Portuguese composers. Amílcar Vasques Dias (1945), following a grant to study in the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Netherlands in 1982, established himself in this country for 14 years. Following studies in the Columbia University, USA and Simon Fraser University, Canada he came back to Portugal to teach firstly at the Aveiro University and lately at the Évora University. During his stay in Holland he studied with L. Andriessen, P. Schat and I. Van Bergej with whom he learned electroacoustic techniques. He created electroacoustic compositions: Dia d’ira (1979-1980), Ave (1983), Galexpo (1984) and Energiate (1993) for multimedia.
Both João Pedro Oliveira (1959) and António de Sousa Dias (1959) are active in the field of electroacoustic music composition, teaching and application of new technologies to music. António de Sousa Dias, presently researching at the University of Paris VIII, combines formal musical training with an engineering background, being also a composer and sound designer for cinema. His interest in jazz – like Amílcar Vasques Dias – led him to write several compositions exploring interactive music composition using computer controlled MIDI synthesizers with Max software. At the Lisbon Superior School of Music (ESML) he created one of the first dedicated electroacoustic music studios. Some of his electroacoustic/electronic compositions are: Estudos para decoração de interiores (1987), Objectos no espaço peturbados por corpos estranhos (1989), Mise en page (1990), Gamanço I (1997), Natureza-morta com ruídos de sala, efeitos especiais e claquete (1997), Estranho movimento, para um dia como o de hoje (2000). As for João Pedro Oliveira, an accomplished organist, following a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation got a PhD in music at the University of New York – Stony Brook between 1985 and 1990. Back in Portugal he was invited to the University of Aveiro, where he became the director of the electronic and electroacoustic music studios located in the Department of Communication & Arts (1990). He teaches composition, XXth century music analysis and electroacoustic music and works at the CIME (Centro de Investigação em Música Electrónica). Having managed to build a personal studio, he produced several of his electronic pieces using the Csound sound synthesis language, first in UNIX and later in Mac environments. He is one of the most active Portuguese composers of electronic music and acoustic music. Some of his electroacoustic/electronic compositions, many with Messiaen-like mystic overtones, are: Psalmus (1986), Canticum (1987), A Cidade Eterna (1988-1997), Tríptico (1991), Silence to light (1992), “…água…fogo…ar…terra…” (1995), Atlas (1997), Observatório dos Oceanos (1997), Azul Profundo (1997), Rumo ao Futuro (1997).
3.3 New/old dynamics and beyond…
The availability of music software and new forms of diffusion (recordable CDs, Internet) became explosive facts since the beginning of 1990s. There was a deluge of software and an increased circulation of ideas, information and aesthetics currents, which allowed for an easier presentation of music by the young Portuguese generation of composers. This of course, was well under run in other countries and Portuguese composers still suffered as a result of the late openness of the Portuguese society. Nowadays posting a CD, downloading an audio file and using portable electronics brought a new dynamic of concerts, artistic collaborations, studio access and publishing.
While formally trained composers benefited of this climate as much as any one else, the access to gigantic quantities of all things sonorous was especially advantageous to many performance based artists coming from other artistic areas. Individual influences were enhanced in opposition to the very few centralized and relatively closed cultural centres that existed so far.
For formally trained composers the influence of interactive music using computers as developed in several North American and European music centres since the mid-1980s (notably at the IRCAM in Paris with the use of the Max/MSP software package) was a constant in many of the Portuguese compositions from the last decade of the XXth century. And while not specifically connected with fixed media electroacoustic music, one has to mention composer Emmanuel Nunes (1941) who devoted an important part of his work to the question of real-time sound spatialisation. Living in France, he spent most of his career in Germany and France, where he worked with live electronics at the Experimental Studio of the Heinrich Strobel Foundation (Freeburg) in the 1980s and since the 1990s at the IRCAM (Paris). Composers like Isabel Soveral, Virgílio de Melo, João Rafael and Pedro Rocha used personal computers to make compositions where the interaction between performer and electronics is central to the development of the pieces. Still some autonomous electroacoustic compositions were made. Isabel Soveral (1961) got a PhD at the University of New York – Stony Brook (1988) and is presently a teacher at the University of Aveiro where she creates the technical parts of many of her compositions. She made two eletroacoustic compositions: Electrónica um (1991) and Electrónica dois (1994). João Rafael (1960), who studied electroacoustic music with Mesias Maiguashca between 1988 and 1990, is mainly active in Germany, having been musical/technical assistant at the Electronic Music Studio of the Superior School of Music in Freeburg, Germany in 1991-1992. His electroacoustic compositions deal specially with the questions of sound spatialization, with the use of 8 or more channels: Ombres croisées (1990- 1991) and L’air de l’air (1992), both produced at the Electronic Music Studio of the Superior School of Music in Freiburg.
Virgílio de Melo (1961) had a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation to work in electroacoustic music composition at the Royal Conservatory of Liège, Belgium from 1990 to 1993. He is presently a teacher of composition and electroacoustic at the University of Aveiro. At the Centre de Recherches et Formation Musicales de Wallonie in Liège he produced the electroacoustic composition Ricercare per A.S. (1994).
As for composer Pedro Rocha (1961), having studied computer music composition at the IRCAM (1992-1994) and at the GRM in 1991 – where he was introduced to the digital sound processing system SYTER – he is mainly active in the composition of interactive electronic/computer pieces. Lately he has been interested in the relationship between sound and image using real time processing. Nevertheless he produced tape pieces like Pedra (1990), Composição-I (2001) for 5-channel surround for the film “A Criação”.
Tomás Henriques (1963) is another Portuguese composer active in the field of electroacoustic music. Having studied at the GRM with Philipe Mion and Jacques Lejeune in 1988, he got a PhD in composition at the USA, where he studied computer music with L. Hill and Cort Lippe. Presently a teacher of Music analysis and Acoustics, he makes extensive use of sound signal processing and spatialis ation using Max/MSP software. Some of his electroaocustic compositions are: Mémoire astral (1987), Transmutações (1988), Liquid Crystals (1994), Time warp (2001/2002). Composer, poet and percussionist Miguel Azguime (1960) is active in various fields of instrumental and electroacoustic music. He co-founded the Miso Ensemble with flutist/composer Paula Azguime in 1985 and later Miso Music Portugal, a non-profit organization that has been one of the main resources and an entrepreneurial forum for activities related to new Portuguese music and performance with live-electronics and electroaocustic music diffusion. He made several electroacoustic music compositions and sound installations, many of which using multichannel sound diffusion: Instalação para arquitectura de Manuel Vicente (1989), Déposer la forêt (1990), 96 Digital bells para arquitectura de Nuno Mateus (1993), Realidade – real (1993), Terra-Mâe…Terra-Pão (1995), Música e texturas sonoras para o Pavilhão do conhecimento dos mares – EXPO’98 (1997-1998), Comunicações (1998), Sobreposições (1998-2000), Le Dicible enfin fini (2003). Combining a background in engineering with theoretical/practical training in acoustics and electroaocustic music, António Ferreira (1963) studied at the Institute of Sonology of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Holland during 1986-1987. He produced compositions for tape, live-electronics and amplified performer: This is music as it was expected…(1987) and More adult music (1987). After a lengthy pause, he managed to build a personal studio (1998) where he is presently pursuing the continued maturation of fixed media electroacoustic compositions with Qualia (1999), Ambidecst (2000), A Horizontal do Vento (2001), les femmes harmoniques (2002), Gist (2003). Living in the UK, composer Pedro Rebelo (1972) is interested in improvisation and on the use of multidisciplinary structures. Currently a research composer at SARC – Queen’s University in Belfast, his central goal is the continuous research of the relationships between architecture and music, as well as interactive performances and sound installations. With saxophone player Fanziska Schroeder he founded the duo “laut” that improvises with live electronics and multimedia. He produced the tape pieces: First of 3 shorts about noise and rhythm (1997), Mapa (1997), Four More Sho(r)ts (1999), Tabacaria [boxed] (2002) at the electronic studios of the University of Edinburgh.
Lately, the above composers have been joined by a younger generation of Portuguese composers giving a much needed impetus and dynamic to the Portuguese contemporary musical scene. New venues (festivals, competitions) for the diffusion and performance of electroacoustic music, stronger pedagogic efforts in some institutions, as well the already mentioned availability of music dedicated software and hardware enabled all these composers to be more easily represented in a public context, both nationally and internationally.
The co-existence of divergent aesthetics proposals in the music scene can be traced to the relatively recent opening of Portuguese society to cultural exchange. This openness sustained a resistance to an eventual fixation by local stylistic schools and enabled the creation of several artistic networks. The resulting empowerment of individuals was responsible for much stimulating music that has been made outside the formal circuits. On the other hand, a certain way of thinking states that formal analysis is not one of the valued characteristics of Portuguese thought and whenever it must nevertheless be dealt with, it appears to be looked upon with suspicion, as a kind of betrayal of the “original”, “poetic” Portuguese culture. Whatever the weight or pertinence of these assertions, it is true that one can perceive a native dislike of systematic organisation. Nowhere is this more visible (or audible) than in the field of music improvisation, an area of immense activity in Portugal. One of the archetypal mavericks of the music improvisation scene is Carlos Zíngaro, a performer/composer who started with an acoustic instrument, the violin gradually spread his activity to electronics and he has been a prolific collaborator with dancers, choreographers, film directors and musicians, like Richard Teitelbaum, all the way since the 1970s. Using a Midi violin with several analogic and digital electronic modules he deals with music structures both from free jazz and textures more connected with electroacoustic music. Likewise, the duo Telectu (Víctor Rua and Jorge Lima Barreto) was very active in the live-electronics and improvisation musical scene, especially during the decades of 1980s and 1990s. These two composers/improvisers performed with countless musicians, video artists and live performers, creating in many of their actuations a provocative climate not unlike the Fluxus group of artists.
Born in Brazil, Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta lives in Portugal since 1986 and has been a prolific composer of experimental music, much of it using electroacoustic media. Trained as an architect, his interest spans from graphic design to architectural metaphors applied to music composition. Other composers/performers, some with a background in cinema, design or coming from the rock/punk scene are at the forefront of the international presence of Portuguese music. People like Rafael Toral, Nuno Rebelo and Paulo Raposo/Carlos Santos (as the duo Vitriol) got their influences outside the institutional field, but have already an extensive curriculum of performances, cd editions and collaborations with national and international musicians in the field of electronic music. Using electronic devices (Rafael Toral uses the Etherevox, a Theremin recreation built by R. Moog), laptops with Max/MSP software, electric guitars, and other low tech devices, they are responsible for some stimulating music and are a big contribution to the international presence of Portugal in the electronic music scene during the decade of 1990s.
4. Institutions, organizations, events and festivals: past and present
Every country’s history is made not only of musical forms and structures but also of ways of doing, ways of listening, social mechanisms and institutions. Against all the restrains imposed by the authoritarian regime that controlled Portugal from 1933 to 1974 there were always some institutional music related activities but very few events for contemporary music. The most important institution for music and arts in Portugal was the Gulbenkian Foundation, a private institution endowed with the fortune of Calouste Gulbenkian, established in 1956. The activity of this Foundation in relation to the Portuguese music scene was and still is very important. Besides supporting numerous Portuguese composers with grants on their international trek to the music centres in Europe and North America, it was responsible for the creation of an Orchestra (1962), a ballet company, a regular series of international music festivals (since 1957) and specially the Gulbenkian Meetings of Contemporary Music in 1977. These allowed Portuguese composers to listen in first hand to many important contemporary composers (K. Stockhausen, I. Xenakis, L. Berio, P. Boulez) and to some electroacoustic music – even tough the bulk of the pieces presented were instrumental. The Foundation also commissioned several pieces to Portuguese composers, some of which specifically for fixed medium like A-MÉR-ES (1978/79) by Cândido Lima.
Another (small) event for electroacoustic music in Portugal was the Jornadas de Música Electroacústica de Viana de Castelo in the north of Portugal, during the 1980s. This festival presented some electroacoustic pieces brought by Jorge Peixinho and Cândido Lima. As already mentioned, electroacoustic music studios mainly geared to teaching were established in Lisbon at the ESML, at the ESMAE in Porto and at the University of Aveiro, where a three studio complex supports the curriculum of music composition and media courses. Although cultural activity was mostly concentrated in the two main Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto, a tendency for decentralization can be seen in the last 5 years. As an example, the Aveiro_Síntese festival in Aveiro had its first edition in 2002. The festival presented a program of Portuguese, international and historic electroacoustic music as well as a series of seminars and discussion forums.
The organisation Miso Music Portugal (1988), directed by composer Miguel Azguime and flutist/composer Paula Azguime, has been a centre for much of the electroacoustic activity in Portugal. Comprising a record label, Miso Records and an electroacoustic studio, Miso Studio, one of the main efforts of the duo has been the production of the International Música Viva Festival since 1992. Festival director Miguel Azguime has been insisting on creating conditions for the promotion of Portuguese electroacoustic music, especially since the 1999 edition of the festival. As a result, the festival has provided a showcase of electroacoustic music produced in Portugal and numerous contributions from major international composers and performers. Here were given the Portuguese premieres of some “classic” electroacoustic pieces by Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegiani, J. Harvey and K. Stockhausen. The Loudspeaker Orchestra, a fine-tuned and powerful spatialisation system designed by M. Azguime, allowed for a very engaging performance of such works. The interest shown by a number of composers in this particular spatialisation/diffusion practice has become evident during the Loudspeaker Orchestra concerts at the festival and follows an international trend. Another of the festival’s features is the annual electroacoustic music competition, which has become the focus for music production for many students and young composers.
M. Azguime also collaborated (since 1990) with the radio station RDP in the presentation of the radio programme “Música Hoje” dedicated to contemporary music. The world exhibition EXPO’ 98, dedicated to the Oceans, took place in Lisbon in 1998 and was quite an opportunity for some Portuguese composers: commissions were made to João Pedro Oliveira and Miguel Azguime for sound and electronic compositions for several theme pavilions. Other venues for the diffusion of electronic music can be found in small independent record labels such as sirr-records, a Lisbon based label founded by Paulo Raposo and Carlos Santos. Responding to the international dynamics in the field of electronic music and with a catalogue of 10 titles, it represents a healthy collection of national and international artists (such as Pimmon, Zbigniew Karkowski). The record labels Portugalsom and Numérica have edited in the 1980s and 1990s several of the electronic music compositions by João Pedro Oliveira, Jorge Peixinho (Elegia a Amílcar Cabral), Cândido Lima and Filipe Pires. Miso Records was founded in 1988 and is another independent label contributing to the promotion of Portuguese contemporary music: they just released a two CD set compilation of Portuguese electroacoustic music. Finally, the independent label Ananana has edited compilation CDs of some Portuguese composers such as Rafael Toral and António Ferreira.
One can mention other recent events for Portuguese composers such as art organisation ZDB (Galeria Zé dos Bois), a nomad organization founded in Lisbon in 1994 and Fundação Serralves in the north of the country. Both have been offering regular series of concerts, performances and sound installations, providing an alternative program of electronic, improvised and experimental music.
What can we say in conclusion? From the Renaissance to High Modernism and partially as a result of its relative geographic isolation, Portugal always relayed to one-man links to the cultural centres of Rome, Paris and Vienna. Because one or two people alone cannot influence a whole culture, it meant that there was no establishment of stable stylistic or aesthetic schools. Links between institutions lacked, such as national radio/television stations and universities (as in Europe and the USA in the second half of the XXth century) and the few individuals that had the knowledge, interest or competence as electroacoustic composers. In addition, there was also a lack of opportunities for electroacoustic music such as record labels and concert venues. That much can also be said for instrumental music in general. So, with a leap in time, the almost non-existential central institutional action has been recently replaced with numerous heterogeneous organisations and individuals aided by Internet erosion of geographical distance. By the virtue of the dispersed nature of the Portuguese culture, disciplinary boundaries are constantly being broken. As such, the growing activity in electronic and electroacoustic music in recent years in Portugal is also a reflection and consequence of the continuous creation of dedicated events and festivals through the efforts of persistent individuals (and some state-funded financial support).
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