Brazilian producer Diego Abelardo and his suite for A Broken Orchestra — ‘Ideia Comum’
An interview with our remix competition winner Diego Abelardo on process and his dedication to music education and its importance in Brazilian society.
Diego Abelardo is a musician, composer, producer and music teacher in public education in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. He has released three albums with his project Agnostic Orchestra. His style focusses on the electroacoustic processes of arrangements and mixes, exploring sonorities and textures through compositional experimentation.
How did you hear about the Broken Orchestra project and what inspired you to submit your tracks?
I heard about the contest through friends on Facebook. I was inspired to participate because I started my musical experience by sampling without theoretical musical knowledge, and with much experimentation and artistic stubbornness. I imagined that it would be fun to produce something different from what I was doing at the moment and that my participation, regardless of the result, would give me a new mood for my productions.
Can you describe the process of creating your winning track using completely broken samples? Did you use any usual techniques or draw upon any specific past projects when completing this challenge?
The winning track, Ideia Comum, was the last track I produced for the contest and the least pretentious and most fluid of all the others. I had defined a template for mixing in the first track because I did not have much time for the production and wanted to be pragmatic in the design of the others. Firstly, I assembled a percussion kit using the soundbank of Broken Orchestra, listening to each recording and looked for the timbres and parameters that I liked. I wanted to work on a low tempo, at 63 BPM, something that reminded me of trap. I thought the track should have two very distinct moments: one dark and one happy part. I defined the instruments that I would use as main voices, in the case: strings and flute and I have been experimenting them within the project, cutting, stretching … and submitting them to the proposal. To finish, I added the double bass, trimming it and looking for proximity to the tonality.
What’s your day to day musical practice like? Do you usually work from a conceptual framework or is your composition process typically more organic?
My daily practice is somewhat linear, varying according to my artistic needs, and so I end up transiting between different issues and musical intentions. Some days I’m determined to learn a new instrument or production software and others I just try to write some lyrics. I always work in form and aesthetics, but I leave the way open for experimentation and improvisation. I believe that I go from the rhythmic precision of Brazilian music to the spontaneity of free-jazz.
You refer to yourself as a music teacher. What sort of music education work have you done and how does this play into how you approach production?
I graduated with a music degree and I work as a music educator for four years in the public network of my state. At the school where I work, I have 15 high school classes with approximately 40 students each. It is a challenging work in many ways, because besides the question of teaching music, we also have numerous social problems in Brazil, which brings with it many adversities for the school environment. I seek to work the idea of “musical awareness” with my students, mainly from the practice together. We study traditional Brazilian music and also other artistic languages, in or out of music. I seek to create in my classes a musical environment that inspires them and that history, technique, concept and performance can dialogue with the reality of each one. In short: we make our sound! This work inspires me a lot, whether through the experience and exchange of knowledge or the privilege I have of making music with a new generation. I can say that teaching daily makes me learn better about my own art.
Two of our Broken Orchestra winners (you and Saskia) are from Porto Alegre. How would you describe the electronic music scene there? We like what what we’ve heard so far!
Porto Alegre is in the extreme south of Brazil and is a place different from the common stereotype of our country. To get an idea, here British Rock has inspired the local musical scene for a long time. I have been making music since 2003 and I realize that in recent years the city has improved a lot from creative initiatives in the field of art. Currently, the scene has diversified and electronic music is gaining momentum in a more alternative or track environment and we have countless events, independent labels and street parties, and so new artists are emerging. One of the biggest events is Kino Beat, which exposes new artists and seeks to map this electronic scene. I was happy that Saskia was well placed in the contest, I believe in her potential as a songwriter and singer. I guess that Porto Alegre will be more and more on the map of the world’s music, because talented people here are not lacking.
What’s next for you musically? Do you have any upcoming recordings or tours planned?
Last year I completed my first work, composed of three volumes called Agnostic Orchestra and I intend to explore it better, whether with audiovisual, soundtrack or even a physical release of this work. I’m looking for partnerships for this. I’m organizing didactic materials for videos on the internet, where I will teach about theory, musical production and varied concepts of creation. I’m also organizing my own sound bank so that other musicians and producers can use it. I plan to release three singles for the second half, songs that I’ve been working on for a long time and that now make a lot of sense to me. A song in partnership with Saskia Peter is in the plans. I also want to make good presentations of my work to play at festivals and events throughout Brazil or even, who knows, the world. I think that’s it, the sound does not stop!
Suites for A Broken Orchestra out on Found Sound Records May 1st 2019.
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