As 'Taxonomy, The state of things' is, at the core, a project that combines research and creation, and since our principles of action always carry a tone as architectural as experimental, Sara did not completely excluded the possibility of redoing some aspects of her piece.
Now she ponders coming to draw some straight lines, long and thin between all the symbols representing every participant's responses to the five questions. This means that the numbers associated to each symbol - attributed to each person according to the order in which they were interviewed - will be interconnected, creating 30 polygons of various shapes, superimposed onto one another. Hence - she thought - it can be that some extra sociologically interesting new findings show up!
If one looks from the outside, the white space (now covered with writing) continues to fascinate the passers-by on the Rua dos Aranhas. They initially startled and stop on a first instance, but we, if at a reach of seizing the opportunity, we warmly invite them in. When we have open doors, Rua dos Aranhas is such an audience catchment success. Above all, we are really speaking of audiences, which are really captured (like fish) by our most efficient net: our predisposition to interact sincerely and in a lively way with people who show up at our door. It was through countless conversations and discussions that we made it clear that our openness is much more than a physical disposition. It is all about the sociological and formative responsibility, which we assume before a city and its inhabitants.
in fact, Manuel feels that our constant presence here at PIPINOIR has been generating an intense cultural activity. We still have no concrete idea about the overall value we are creating. But with each passing day, there are ever more curious visitors coming to us, trying to understand what has been going on here. It is worth saying as well that, the site itself bears many things we could say so much about and, as it is proving itself true - occupied with a so unconventionally alluring kind of piece - it has been able to call for the most diverse types of people. Spanning from journalists, architects, engineers, economists, men and women of all ages, children, myriad tourists, European policymakers, international event promoters, to the most varied artistic and cultural producers.
Along 30 days, the number 17 at Rua dos Aranhas became a part of us. First, certainly through all the dust deposited on all its surfaces, which we willingly wiped away. As the days passed, we expectably became gradually acquainted with the road's character: to the neighbours, to the businesses surrounding us, even to the ever present sounds and images. Dona Mécia Café was a first stopping point, where on many occasions we ended up not only to eat but also to borrow them little bit of internet, thanks to which we managed to publish - though often only at dawn - so may other diary entries such as this one. Opan [local bread boutique] after several days, became another good option, that could be relied upon.
The experience we had of this house was strongly marked by the relationship we developed with the team, which gathered around the project's activities. Its members were Manuel and Eduardo from PIPINOIR, who made sure nothing lacked here at the space, Diogo, with his support with the phone calls and bookings), Mariana, who helped us regarding the communication and promotion and is still going to work on part of the documentation and, of course, Helena, who is an excellent executive producer from birth and Rui, who, in addition to having produced a considerable part of the material now lying our documental archive, often went hunting for cockroaches and performed a big public service by compulsively sweeping the whole road clean.
Even more complex than that, (and so richly that describing it with justice here is for us impossible), was the invaluable involvement that the project received from the participants. That involvement was indeed the wide cloud of cultural activity, which has completely engulfed up the house and its road. It connected, we now know - the whole city through some of its main channels and reached so many people in surprisingly impactful ways. Stunning music and sounds were produced and we heard and recorded stories, which we think will prove relevant to future generations at regional and - who knows? - national levels.
We are very satisfied with the whole outcome, as the balance seems to have been entirely positive. We thank everyone who believed in the project. We thank those who supported it in one way or another and, those who have made themselves available to take part in it in such deep sincerity, we do reserve a special place here within ourselves. We learned a lot and there grew inside us a true desire to strengthen these relationships in the future, and of remaining updated on the efforts and successes of every one of us.
In an instant, there goes a month! Soon we will leave for Lisbon. We leave here something of us as we take with us a bit of Funchal, with a little scent from Rua dos Aranhas, sweat from PIPINOIR, and many, many memories.
Very big thanks to all o those who have participated and have been involved in the project: Helena B. Camacho, Rui A. Camacho, Mariana B. Camacho, Diogo Castro, Duarte Nuno, Cristina Vieira, Filipe Ferraz, Daniel Gonçalves Melim, Fernanda Martins, José Camacho, João Viveiros, Carlos Jorge Pereira Rodrigues, Roberto Moritz, Roberto Moniz, Lara Carolina, Lídia Araújo, Tozé Cardoso, Rosa Madeira, Ricardo Correia, Virgílio Caldeira, João Caldeira, Paulo Gouveia, Sophie Rose Bayntun, Luís Abreu, Alexandra Barbosa, Emmanuel Mejía, Tiago Castro Lopes, Mariana (Pipocas) Andrade, Marta Faria Capelo, Miliza Mendes, Natacha Gonçalves, Lidiane Duailibi, Norberto Gonçalves da Cruz, Miguel Rosado, Diogo Andrade, Joana Bolito, Albertino Miranda, Denise Pereira, Lucilina Freitas and Sara Lambeau.
Thanks also to those who were always close by: Irene Rodrigues, Lourenço Basílio, Carlos Camacho, Paulo Barbosa, António Dantas, Marco Fagundes, Sofia Maul, Jorge Maggiore, Diana Serrão, Mário André, Ana Salgueiro, Pau Pascual Galbis, Carlos Nó e Silvio Cró amongst so many others.
We formally thank Natércia Xavier, on behalf of the Regional Bureau for Culture, and Sandra Nóbrega and Catarina Faria, from Funchal City Hall, for having financially supported the project, whose support allowed all this to be possible; to Manuel Rodriguez and to Eduardo Freitas for the space and for the support made available at PIPINOIR Expressão Criativa, and to Xarabanda for the loans of musical instruments, technical equipment and permanent availability!
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigue
Photograph by Rui A. Camacho
With all parts mapped down and the floor finalised, there were just lacking the 16 loudspeakers still waiting to be suspended throughout the ceiling. We thought that it would be too late to introduce our friend - the power drill - in the narrative, but given the scarce time (and the absence of actual neighbours) we advanced with the plan. All that cartography drawn on the floor helped us - through symbols, which effectively became our lingua-franca - managing to identify the zones of greater incidence, as those further, which would as well need sonification. As soon as this process got completed, there came the power drill, then the hooks and, right at the final stage, the sound cables, which luckily had been serialised and organised by size by Rodrigo during the evening.
Whilst Rodrigo was finishing all preparations on the ceiling - between cable swapping, to see which one would reach and serve the highest number of loudspeakers possible, and checking whether those left would indeed reach the closest loudspeakers - Sara created 16 tracks on Logic and was trying to identify and determine to whom every bit belonged, so that everyone would be accordingly sent to the correct places. The wisest thing was that Sara had already singled out each recording with name tags and different colours so to be able to maneuver everything easily. In a separate document, she had as well completed an indexical list of responses and places, with all the succinctly valuable information from everyone's interview. In this way, she assigned every sound to each of the loudspeakers, one by one, until the work got completed, only after the sun was up and high in the sky…
So exhausted and dying for some sleep, Sara woke Rodrigo up, who could close his eyes for a couple of hours and, together, they made the last reparations to the sound and timings of each interview. We concluded that each song would have to necessarily come up alone, one at each time, and that there had to be a limit of maximum interviews heard at any single time. Upon lastly testing the intelligibility of the most fundamental contents, we gladly understood that in between little utterances and total cacophony, it is well possible to clearly listen to any chosen interview more than any other, depending on where one decides to stand in space, bellow any given loudspeaker and adjacent symbols. Accordingly, people can move around the space towards the interview that most calls for their attention!
Yet, not everything was concluded and, after some bread with cheese and an orange juice, Sara still went and wrote every participant's name on the wall, as she did with the 5 questions, helped by Rodrigo who, again, used the coloured lines and glue-tape to obtain the necessary divisions of the wall at east and, at the same time, ultimately make them serve as rulers. In the end, and after a watering can full or cold water down the body, everything was finally ready. Sara thought she could now go and get some sleep, but at this precise moment, the phone rings. It was Lília Mata on the other side, asking if there was some time for a quick interview before the inauguration. In fact, there was strangely some spare time. After all, drowsiness had somehow inhibited itself under an upcoming chemical strength, which seemed to come back for a final testimony. Sara's words were then broadcasted hours later on RDP [Portuguese Public Radio], reminding everyone about the opening, and just right after it, we indeed opened the doors, even slightly before 7 pm for the inauguration of 'The state of things'.
We were very happy to see all interviewees flowing into the space of PIPINOIR, and so there arrived friends, acquaintances and other interested people to come and watch and listen to the project. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm with which several people moved across the mapped floor, from a loudspeaker to another, searching for songs and statements, and as well looking forward to hearing their own voices! Lots of them said that the project was really different from anything they had seen so far and we noticed there was real, honest interest paid to the most distinct particularities of the work; from the visual impact of the cartographic mapping to the more anthropological and social or musical sides of it. The recorded voices of every interviewee many times fused with their real bodies' euphoric commentaries and reactions, and the continuous rumble was often only interrupted by either joyful singing and playing.
Photograph by Sara Rodrigues
Photograph by Rui A. Camacho
Virgílio Caldeira, who had been appointed the first interviewee for this piece, ended up actually being the last one, closing a list of 30 people. Already into preparations day, he came early in the morning to speak his part which, given his career and his post as the director of DSEAM [Madeira's Arts and Multimedia Education Services], was easily as long as that of Rui Camacho and naturally also proved to be of great relevance to the regional musical panorama. He almost always situated his memories in Porto da Cruz [small village in the north of the island], where from he spoke, for instance, about the field recordings he had done of this old man who, at 80 years old, still used to sing this long tongue-twister called 'A velha da cacalhada' [The disordered old lady]. He even imitated the sound of the Búzio [sea conch horn], used often as a calling instrument in the lands where he was born and raised. He described also the activities of his project Flores de Maio, and admitted that, with so many administrative responsibilities, in positions from managerial director to choir conductor, time was not as much as he used to have for singing and playing as he would like to. Precisely for that reason, it was so great to have been able to listen to him!
After farewells said and done, given it's the day before the opening, it was time to seriously put arms to work for the last preparations. Just because they were the last ones, it did not mean they were either short or even simple. Well by the contrary. Sara wanted that all geographical accounts, accumulated during all the interviews were deposited on the floor (now white) of PIPINOIR. But it could not be done in any shallow way! Everything had to be rigorously mapped, to scale and with respect to the right proportions! In the executive running of such tasks, we found ourselves in the middle of a true department for cartography and demographic studies, assembled at the entrance of the space, in which Rodrigo and Helena, surrounded by maps, pens, compasses, rulers and strings have verified over 150 different places, collected by Sara along all interviews. With the most precious help from the mothers Helena and Irene, Rodrigo planned and built a grid made of purple and green strings (rescued from the collection of Filipe's aunt), to organise the physical projection of all information onto the floor! Some data fragments were still arriving on warm hands, whilst Sara re-listened to each of the recordings and would, from time to time, shout names of streets, cities, and countries, one by one added to the list, which seemed only to grow without end.
At night already, and after more than 10 hours spent editing interviews (including those recorded yesterday) Sara finally started to mark the floor (until then immaculately clean) with a permanent mega thick black pen. Five basic symbols combined themselves in order to represent a rich relational network of people, places and musical and sonic memories. Some hours into it, and the floor was the same no more. We now could see the clear differences between the cultural nebulous centre of Funchal - with a great density of happenings and memories - and those symbols, more dispersed around it, which outlined the kernel of the high lands as well as the surrounding sea line.
We can already see also the constellations of hotels, which many musicians have described as the places where they mostly work in and the room's peripheries are as well now marked with other types of spots, related to those who in the meanwhile have immigrated far away. So rare it was, but also happened here; Lisbon and London marked down as peripheries, side by side, equivalent to points where from many have emigrated from, like Venezuela, Brazil and Angola. It was interesting to notice also that many of those who have been referring the sound of the ocean as that sound that's really important to them, are either not natural from Madeira, or have been not living in here for a long while. That is the violent nature of saudade, that only manifests itself when the things we potentially miss, precisely cease being present.
We spent well past midnight at the peak of such an analytical wave, and the scenes of the next episodes were straightly punched into the first hours of the following day…
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigues
On the final stretch, we received the actual largest number of musicians we ever have received in just one day. Seven they were this time! Truly a day full of emotions and surprises which included some unexpected participations.
Emmanuel Mejía came straight in the morning. He told us about when he was about six years old, as he started playing percussion in a Venezuelan traditional music group with his father. He told us that, in the middle of a rehearsal, he intuitively (and unsolicitedly so) decided to pick up this bowl with seeds inside to accompany the adult players, and so he was initiated to the band. Currently, he enjoys his trips to the Madeira's highest hills and being there with friends, with whom he plays improvised music amidst trees and a stars-full sky.
We learned that Mariana Andrade prefers being called by her artistic name - Mariana Pipocas [popcorn] - and that she is currently studying at the Conservatoire; jazz drums and classical piano at the same time! She sang this song she remembers from her childhood. Not much astonished, although still curiously so, we listened to her singing a song by her own father for his project 'Nuno and the End'.
Rodrigo, although better known for his compositions, revealed on the interview the way he spends all days singing improvised stuff in his flat in London, which we had to represent by centrifugally pointing an arrow towards the north of the piece's floor-map. He played the piano, from Mozart to Ravel, but concluded with a well-accented love for the working songs Borracheiros used to sing which, somewhat strangely, he feels as his own. He imitated still the cacophony of Mariana's (his sister) family during lunchtime.
The songs of Zeca Afonso were, curiously, the first ones that João Viveiros started playing, secretly listening to them on a vinyl player at his friend's house. He admits only later having understood the political subversive content embedded in those songs, which we think came to greatly influence his later work, given he has written lyrics with similar intentions for the Algozes, of which he and other interviewees were also part (like Rui and Helena).
Some days ago, we got succinctly acquainted with Natacha Gonçalves, who was just loosely passing by our road, and who, in that same moment, we convinced to participate. Today she told us about her first public performance moment, in which, at the Island's ubiquitous Children's Song Festival, she sang this song, which her father had written not only for her but also about herself. 'When I grow up, I'll be a true artist'! she sang. She also told us about her first memories of listening to her father's vinyl collection of The Beatles amongst others, and about her memories of being able to go to sleep at whichever hour she felt like at the sound of free-jazz! She also dedicated this one song to her father, José António Gonçalves, whom she kept lots of memories from and misses very much. It was in an emotionally drenched ambience that she left us, and so we all agreed that sometimes, things happen just like that, and end up being so special; this is, of course, if we know how to keep ourselves open to what life offers us along the way.
At the beginning of the night, there came Lidiane Duailibi who, without us knowing, showed up accompanied by Norberto Gonçalves da Cruz. He stayed still and listened to Lidiane's interview, who told us the story of how she frugally got to Madeira from Brazil. However, Bossa Nova always hindered inside her. She sang with the sweetest voice and told us about her project 'Bossa Livre', which she is developing with Norberto, Nuno Filipe and Jorge Maggiore, in which they put their particular influences to practice in creating a wholly new sonic world. She currently dedicates herself also to music-therapy sessions with women, using their voices' expressive power as a tool to expand and liberate their personalities, as well so useful for the recuperation or even reconstruction and augmentation of self-esteem and confidence.
After this musical and geographical trip, with some effort, we managed to bring Norberto onto the interviewee chair, and learned about his pathway from Venezuela up to here, with memories he had of these beautiful scores, which his grandfather had kept inside this little satin bag, taking them out every day for interpretations on the mandolin. In that time - he said - his grandfather didn't have any means to enjoy the commodified reproduction of music, therefore, he had to actually play it every time. He told us about his times at the Conservatoire in Láquila, and about when he used to be a soloist at La Scala Theatre, but concluded saying that nowadays, he prefers the idea of being a traveler much more than the idea of being a tourist, in his way of approaching music navigation, adding also that this could be an attitude many more musicians should adopt. He also said 'silence is important as are improvising and experimenting with different instruments'. He believes that such faculties grant the musician higher-order freedoms. We prompted him to demonstrate something on a humble guitar we had there to a corner. Not without some contention, he agreed in doing so but said, after a storm-like vigorous performance, that 'this is not really how you should play the guitar'. We actually appreciated his rhythmical skills very much. We concluded with the sound he thinks is the most memorable in the whole of Funchal, and which he likes very much; the garbage truck passing by, leaving us with the solemn message that the whole city at end relaxes and goes to sleep.
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigues
Today was the day for 'Taxonomy' to say goodbye, leaving the space for 'The state of things'. With familiar help, Rodrigo assembled a de-installation line so to be able to wrap the sailcloth-screens up, only after the long wooden spines had been removed like fishbones, which were previously holding the screens up all those days. Some grabbed and tightly spread the cloth, others loosened and perked the staples, someone promptly went straight after to remove them with some extra strength. All the traces left behind were gone in a blink's time and, in about an hour, there were the two huge screens, rolled together and standing, in the shape of a monolithic white tower in the middle of a white room. It was a brief monument dedicated to the fantastic work the team had done, which when well organised, is always a delight!
In the meanwhile, Sara stayed for some more forceful editing, which by this time counts with 20 completed interviews. There are some short and concise, each rounding the 10/15 minutes mark, whilst others got up to 1 entire hour! It was interesting to observe the different personalities in action and to delightfully notice the variations in how different people understood the several questions, with some, promptly responding with well-prepared musical performances whilst others would tell us super-long stories, most porting such a documental character, with several call-points, spinoffs and detours.
Bit by bit, various linkages between participants started emerging. First, the familiar connections, followed by the various groups and projects people had been part of, and through which many participants had crossed paths. Letting herself be guided by these archaeological findings, Sara managed to connect everyone's memories to common places, situations and experiences, which proved to be tremendous cultural gravitational forces. It is also interesting to notice that these concatenations, upon being formed, never escape emerging in the image of the myriad variations in everyone's individual perspectives. Some people remember things which others have forgotten already and, since remembering is itself a creative act, the details often become amazingly obfuscated and confused.
Photographs by Rui A. Camacho
To break up with tradition, today we had neither interviews nor workshops, so we could finally sleep for a little bit longer in the morning! The day was reserved to prepare the screening of the documentary 'Fáça-e luz!' [Light up!] by Cristina Vieira and Nuno Filipe.
The idea of the work is simple: to ask a huge number of musicians from Madeira 'how can we export musicians and music from Madeira to the outside?'. As to the experiment's result, things got a bit entangled.
At the last minute, there comes Nuno Filipe running down the road with a hard drive on his hand. That little box brought inside the result of months of work, weighing 8 GB just out of the oven, miraculously in time of being projected today, for the first time, at PIPINOIR, before a very special audience.
After hearing the opinions of 54 musicians, with an intermission due to the austere hot weather (climatically as much as socioculturally), the audience gathered to discuss the problems and suggestions that arose during the whole film. Several topics emerged on the importance of social networks, the production quality, mobility costs, the investment in live concerts, the financial local and regional support structures, the lack of collective spirit, the gender issues (since only 2 women's voices were heard amidst 54 interviewees) etc. etc... There was a lot of turmoil, confusion, dispersion and even shouting. In the end, the general impression was of some conventions being reached about the fragilities of the music production system in Madeira. At least, now we know that there is in fact a problem, even if the solutions are not yet neither many nor clear.
We were glad about the openness and availability demonstrated by both PIPINOIR and Baltazar Dias in regards to screening the documentary in various public sessions. This action can really be a good vitamin towards the cultural health of this land.
In the end, conversations were kept going, as lively as ever, at the Beer Garden by Formosa Beach, amidst picados [traditional spicy sauce meat tray] and pregos [traditional beef sandwich].
Photographs by Rui A. Camacho
Friday was a very familiar day. First, there came Diogo Castro, who integrated our team, helping us getting more participants during the course of the project. Now, it was his turn! We were surprised with his vocal emulation of Snarky Puppy [experimental jazz band], whose rhythmic and harmonic structures are not the easiest to reproduce. He also played this tambourine in order to demonstrate the first rhythmic patterns he has learned, but he seriously told us he didn't know how to properly play that instrument; a commentary from someone who is able to precisely distinguish between the timbral nuances and technical traditions (even if dangerously similar) of different percussion instruments. Before leaving us, he gave us the coordinates to the road where he used to live before moving to Caniço. He remembers hearing buses crossing at the end of the road, down the hill, given he lived in an inner urban type of house, where from one could still hear the birds and those less aggressive sounds.
Tozé Cardoso, who had not yet done any recording with us, surprised us with memories of his childhood spent in Angola, where at the time, his mother would sing him these traditional Angolan lullabies. He told us about his many-paths career, outlined through maritime biology - from the days in Tomar [central Portuguese city] - until having arrived in Madeira, time whenceforth he took on music as his most serious practice. Who knows, it was really the prevalence and the abundance of music in the island's culture that did not let him escape. He told us still about his project Vértice in which poems by Madeiran authors are musically interpreted, and ended up offering us some those verses acapella.
Mariana B. Camacho came afterwards, already loaded with so much energy, after having been involved in the documentation of the project and having watched a bunch of interviews in a row. Interestingly enough, not even in this way, she felt prepared to search for all those memories and choices Sara proposed. It was good to see how spontaneity happened to her. When questioned about the places where she mostly to play in, she mentioned the multiple projects she is part of in Lisbon, and told us about the several genres and styles she performs, from renaissance music with the University of Lisbon Chamber Choir and the Gulbenkian Choir, up to Miositis choir (which rehearses inside an all-products-organic kind of supermarket of the same name), passing through Tochapestana (which she labeled as hipster pimpa [hipster ironic cheap-pop]) and even, of course, Punk D'Amour, eclectic band, within which she gathers and reutilises all this in a revival act with Filipe Ferraz. She sang also this most beautiful song composed by a priest of the Évora School [16th-century polyphonic Portuguese school], who had immigrated to Mexico, where he suffered a drastic change to his compositional style, which one only believes upon listening to it. Amazingly beautiful!
By the end, Filipe Ferraz appeared. He offered us this song by Punk D'Amour, live and solo, on a guitar for right-handed people, with clear Brazilian subtropical influences, which he pointed to us as being his and Punk D'Amour's main influences. More than once, he referred to natural acoustic chambers, a natural particular phenomenon of the Madeiran topography, he said, in which, within a valley, one can sometimes crisply understand someone shouting something on the other side, miles away, which causes one to strangely feel as though all that volumetric space is somehow part of one's intimacy. He chose Helena Camacho's sound to reproduce, that of gossip-talk at Barreirinha beach, although the place reminded him of other times when, at night, the clubs-pooped crowds would gather there, amongst junkies, and that specific acoustic chamber would always hold its own characteristic soundscape.
Mariana and Filipe then came with us to the mythical dinner party at Marco Fagundes' house which, this time, earned a theme somewhat to do with vegetarianism. There we met Diana Serrão, whose birthday we did not know was today, and who had brought us this roasted chicken (called Tofu) and the until-then-gone Jorge Maggiore. As it could not otherwise be, we ended up doing this jam-session, with buckets, cutlery and wine bottles (which after emptied-out, we filled up with water at different levels in order to build a tempered blowing organ). At a critical point, Fagundes decided to compete, arming his CD player up, and playing this integral sung mass in German, something whose mood could never make us predict that the night would have finished with 80s pop music and a mad improvised dramatic act on the balcony, garnished with props like various hats, a power drill, hangers, and a paschal candle and, by mistake, a fingernail XXL bucket… Lots of fun! Shuffling through photographs, we found one we could not remember who had taken, which we though, represented the night.
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigues
Photographs by Sara Rodrigues
Sara's mother has arrived! Having succinctly passed through Madeira's Airport, it looks like she came directly from Porto to PIPINOIR, and there she remained, assisting the interviews we had today. We received Lília Mata, Miliza Mendes and Rosa Madeira. More into the evening, we also received Lucilina Freitas, who brought her friends Martinho Mendes and Sara Lambeau with her. Lucilina, wanted to participate as she became very interested in our project but during the interview, she realised that maybe this was not completely her strand. 'This is something more indicated to musicians and people connected to the field', Sara had advised her earlier. Saying she could not produce any sound at all - not even of fireworks - which she mentioned earlier, we were nevertheless glad for her honest attempt and enjoyed the stories she shared with us about how people are building instruments in artistic workshops at the Culture House in Santa Cruz. Martinho, having sat for the interview, adventured himself no further, but yet, we had the testimony of beginnings of songs in French by Sara Lambeau, who had right-arrived in Funchal, from Belgium, to work at the Sacred Art Museum.
People had adverted us for the fact that Lília was an unstoppable speaker. Having arrived, she surelly told us the same! In the meanwhile, she admitted knowing how difficult it is to be on the interviewer's side since she is a radio presenter herself. On the side of who is being interviewed, Lília does not make things easy at all and, with her, things work more or less like 'a word, a story' kind of model, amidst so many tunes from the song-circle she takes part in every week, which helps her maintaining such old memories. We were thus taken through a world of memories from other times, through the realities of Upper Caniço [mountainous region of central Madeira island], so upper than everything else that it is almost Camacha [the island's innermost landlocked district].
The interview with Miliza revealed itself as a true surprise box. Almost no one remembers this, but we discovered that her performance of a song about learning to count has indeed influenced an entire generation. The song has infiltrated the whole region's schools in such a way, that any Madeiran person, who today can have between 20 and 30 years old can, upon request, sing considerable parts of this song by heart. She additionally told us about the circular sound of buses and about the huge water feature at the roundabout, that is as close to PIPINOIR as is is to her house. To our amazement, this monumental fountain ceases functioning every day at midnight, an event which sometimes wakes Miliza up as she is trying to fall asleep. Ahead into the interview, we recorded a jaw-dropping section in which she explained the particularities of her profession. Miliza is a speech therapist and bases herself on concepts and techniques related to memory, communication and musicality - all of which unexpectedly common to Sara's piece - to work on a daily basis with patients with the most varied problems, including Alzheimer.
Then there came Rosa Madeira, with her powerful (although calmly noble) presence. She sang to us this Italian song from the time when she had once won this big singing contest, which consequently made her become part of the Scalabitana [Portuguese folk orchestra], where she became acquainted with a group of musicians with whom she gained and retained that little (but often fatal) 'fado-bug'. To our greatest surprise, she told us she loved Bob Marley, whose house in Jamaica she has already been to. She also told us about her most well spent days at the beach in Porto Santo [Madeira's sister island] listening to reggae. She even sang this song she composed, which she always performs with Fado Funcho.
We were so happy with Rosa's invitation to watch her project live at the Four Views Oasis and we so tried to go there, but everything took so much more time than we believed possible there at Lareira [typical restaurant in Caniço]. The food was superb, however, we arrived at the hotel way too late… We still managed nonetheless to leave Laura with a frugal hello/bye from the upper floor. Notwithstanding, the trip to Caniço was not in vain! We still went to the old Boieiro [another mythical restaurant], looking for this old well, which, we were told, would be filled up with frogs, were the watercourse still alive. We found no water, neither frogs, but we caught some crickets, which we recorded, having interrupted these guys' joyous spliff-passing ritual. They probably thought we were the ones who were completely stoned. Four foreign townspeople - Rui, Rodrigo, Sara and Irene - in the middle of the night, searching for the sound of frogs inside a well in Caniço...
We then straightly made our way towards Upper Caniço, through Eiras, on dark and narrow roads, in the pursuit of this old water-house. This house does not exist anymore, but we found the place it used to be in, however. Thank you Lília for the fantastic description! It was indeed all true! We found everything, bit by bit, including the part in which the road gets so unmeasurably narrower because of some conflicts between narrow-minded country estate proprietors.
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigues and Rodrigo B. Camacho
Photographs by Sara Rodrigues
The project's reception has been warm. Opinions coming to us are always differently interesting. We have been noticing that the general attitude towards the whole thing is of a type of deep curiosity, which delights us immensely, but there is a problem. 'Where are all the women?'.
In Rodrigo's piece, only a third of the participants were women. Now, in Sara's piece, the same seems to start happening - or actually, it was actually getting worse - in terms of gender representational equality. Because of that, we decided to pay more attention to the phenomenon, challenging it formally. We gathered a bunch of contacts, and talked to the right people so there we went, discovering that women are in fact plenty (and fantastic), but that they, for some reason, do not simply pop up within the group of contacts we intuitively bring up or, alternatively, are exceedingly not the first ones taking the initiative to come to us and asking to participate. We have noticed that there was a clear difference in the way each of the genders finds its social expression in the field of music. A certain 'magic veil' makes of many women and their work something mysteriously translucid.
In 'The state of things', a piece based on interviews with participants, Sara has been discovering that there is really an unbalance in genders in regards to questions of access to formal learning experiences and professional development. The impediments manifest themselves since infancy and last long, producing consequences, which get indeterminately reflected in the lives of several women. Some of the female participants told us already of memories (that in normal contexts don't usually emerge as conversational themes), about this or that opportunity of getting involved with this or that kind of music being actively and consciously negated to them. The most common case is that of women with brothers who, whilst the brothers were part of some sort of formal musical activity (such as a local philharmonic band), females had to stay at home learning the domestic skills.
With a critical and not conformist attitude towards the real state of things, Sara decided to discover it, as much as to modify it with a positive feminist action. We have noticed that a simple attention paid to the problem, already changes the behavioural matrix of our community before it. The tendency is to naturally find super interesting women, whose work (and even their own existence) we did not know about. They sprout up to us here at PIPINOIR and say 'are you looking for women? do you want me to ask these female friends of mine?'. The difference in number maybe was not the problem so much. The problem lies more in the silence that we cultivate every time a huge injustice is dressed up as a small and simple fluke event.
Today we had Lídia Araújo, Marta Capelo and Helena B. Camacho. Lídia, from Ponta do Sol, but with lively memories from her childhood spent in Venezuela, revealed to us the distance she maintains from the sonic world of Funchal. Not without some reluctance in regards to her upcoming performance, she guided us through the tenebrous memories she kept of the disastrous events recently caused in this city because of water and fire. Amongst musical memories, Marta taught us about metal energy and about how we can help our lungs being the healthiest possible! This, pertinently through didactic songs of her authorship. Helena was incredibly succinct and productive content-wise. We found ourselves having recorded a full compendium of songs, memories and sounds in such a short time period and, as soon as we knew, the interview had finished. She even sent Sara to peek at the nosy gossips of others at Barreirinha [a famous private beach in Funchal], for that was one of her adolescence's sonic memories.
In respect paid to the new equilibrium, there were men as well! We had Tiago Castro in the morning, who informed us about the victory that our Rajão has been accomplishing there in the lands of Lisbon's academic bands. In the beginning, they did not want him to play that 'little thing', out of format, that is neither a cavaquinho [Brazilian relative instrument] neither a ukulele and surely is no guitar… Now, and this is after some long persistence, everyone wants to learn how to play and compose for that interesting instrument. A certain mystery is there in its reentrant tuning system that is able to convince anyone with minimum curiosity.
Paulo Gouveia told us about his jazz trio 'Dona Zica', and about the arrangement, which they have made of the (now retro) game 'Sonic'. We also discovered that he learned the drums, practising rock rhythms alone, in the rehearsal place of his older brother, Filipe. Every time the older guys would stop playing, there went Paulo, because only then the room would be left for the 'children'.
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigues and Rodrigo B. Camacho
Photography by Sara Rodrigues
Today, things started with a visit to the decorative design shop owned and managed by Fernanda Martins and António Dantas, only the purpose of having gone there was to find this back-office (almost) secret door, leading into this super narrow concrete-made alley, that then becomes soil and several different plants. In it, there is a tiny watercourse, converging from various water pipes exits of some buildings around, always sounding afresh, in a combinatorial ever new fashion. 'I always leave the door open, I can't really be here with it closed' said Fernanda. It was, in fact, an incredible finding; a place that leads to such a mysterious, long path, that looked like it could lead us to the other end of the world could we follow it.
We spoke of remarkable places - not just little brooks - but also about Levadas [Madeira's ancient water irrigation system, famous for its hike-through paths] and mountains in which there live all sort of sounding insects. On another note, Dantas remembered the epic moment when John Cage came to Funchal with Merce Cunningham and David Tudor, and half of the audience - having already started small - went away, outraged, and the other half could never again forget the concert. We watched a piece recorded by Sara and Rodrigo in a New Maker Ensemble concert in which, on his score, Mark Barden writes moments of inhalation and exhalation, attempts of air release and sudden suspensions, where everything lies between sheer failure and utter success.
Later on, Cristina Vieira and Nuno Filipe came to meet us at PIPINOIR. Cristina, amidst lots of traditional music, reminded us again of the sounds of the Levada that there was by her old house and of the sound of her mother sewing, and Nuno Filipe, of cats, relentlessly meowing all the time, without him being able to locate them and really understanding what is going on. He chose still to revive the sound of bells playing in the Jesuits church, a marking event of his days spent in the religious college until he was sixteen years old. Who could guess this one?! He was the first one playing the piano we have here, delivering a kickass arrangement of 'Black Bird' by the Beatles, which, although it was not sung, it explains: '… all your life you were waiting for this moment to be free, blackbird fly, blackbird fly, into the light of the dark black night…'
Yesterday, Zé Camacho asked Sara about the music she most loves, since that was a question she has been asking everyone. At the top of her head, she mentioned Nina Simone, and today, as it is her father's birthday, and he is not here with us anymore, but always in spirit, she would like to dedicate this song to him:
Love me, love me say you do
let me fly away with you
for my love is like the wind
and wild is the wind
… for we're creatures of the wind
and wild is the wind
… let the wind blow through your heart
and wild is the wind
Today the floor was all painted in white, attracting even more diverse people to our space with the light it emanated. It really seemed as though we had reached heaven, only with this tiny window to the terrestrial world, with a sun-ray coming in, whole and lively. Now the only thing lacking are memories themselves, inscribed onto the physicality of things here, now that there are so many them stored, and particularly those remembering people's parents. We, who are here still, we keep maintaining them alive in our memory, and thenceforwards, generations after generations will always save these memories full-heartedly. This piece, to Sara, it reminds her of her father. This is her strongest memory, which is always present, and now is hereby dedicated to him. He would certainly like the sound of the little secret brook and even more that of those stones rolling on the volcanic beach.
Photographs by Sara Rodrigues