Dan Di Maggio

rarescale's Artistic Director, Carla Rees, talks to Italian composer Dan Di Maggio.
What is it that appeals to you about writing for the alto/bass flute?

I have always liked less-known instruments and instruments with unusual ranges. Actually, I am really attracted to the “rare birds” within a family or a group, because I think that if you look at the unusual and the less-known, sometimes you can find hidden jewels. Not to mention an entire microtonal new world that Kingma System allows us to explore!

What attracts you to rarescale as an ensemble?

To me rarescale is a sort of “horizon of possibilities”, so to speak. It’s a real artistic forge, a lab where new languages and new musical possibilities can be tested. They all are dedicated and extremely talented musicians, with a unique care for sound and a kind attention to the composer’s needs and requirements that can be a little strange sometimes…

What is your musical aesthetic?

If you consider the definition of “Lateral thinking” and add the adjective “musical” to the word “problems”, you will have a quite appropriate definition of my musical aesthetic. Let’s try: “Lateral thinking is solving (musical) problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic”…

What are your plans for the future?

Currently, I’m finishing a piece for electric guitar called “Scary Taxidermy”, a kind of étude on echo, and a piece for alto flute and bassoon called “Things In Jars”; then I will spend next summer with two projects: “Lugat” for soprano and alto flute, on a beautiful little poem by Suela Gusha, and an elettroacoustic project dedicated to Dylan Thomas’s works. During this summer I’m going to work slowly, with no hurry, enjoying every single sound, with a certain mediterranean indolence; that’s my origin, after all…

What made you become a composer?

Since I were a kid, I have always loved three things, acoustically speaking: ambient noise, atonality in soundtracks and marching bands. I have always been very receptive to sounds and noises of the city, and to sounds of nature as well, especially when they emerge from the sonic tissue of the urban environment. In addition to this, I’ve always liked soundtracks that use atonality to suggest tension or suspense (a good example of this are some parts of Toshiro Mayuzumi’s soundtrack to John Huston’s “The Bible”). Then, marching bands. When I were a boy I used to follow marching band at town festivals, and even today I love the sound, always a little out of tune, of these ensembles. I started writing pieces for marching bands, without the necessary knowledge to do it… Then I discovered and learnt all the rest. These three elements flowed into my education as a musician, and I think that also in my mature output they emerge, now and then..

If you could sum your music up in three words, what would they be?

I would say: Lateral Sound Assemblage (the acronym is nice, L.S.A.). I mean, as I was saying before, Lateral thinking applied to the art of putting sounds together (it’s never useless to remember that the word “composition” originates from “cum ponere”, “to put together” or “to generate”). In fact, Mauro Sambo, a Venetian artist and musician, calls me a “lateral musician”…

If you could choose three pieces of music that have had a big impact on your life or musical development, what would they be and why?

Obviously, they are more than three, but I surely can answer: Stravinskij’s “The Flood”, because it’s a brilliant way to a sort of functional atonality, entertaining, even pleasant sometimes. Then comes Donatoni’s “Flag”, because it’s a hymn to the beauty of sound and to an almost physical joy of composition. Finally, I must say Subotnick’s “Silver Apples Of the Moon”, for its innovative concept and for all the electronic and elettroacoustic music it inspired.

Dan's website