The Advent of Border Music
Girolamo De Simone


The expression "border music" can refer to world or global music, ambient music, some aspects of fusion music, and some atmospheres of the most advanced new age music. All these labels have in common the fact that they refer to highly innovative late twentieth century music. "Border" music is characterized by a high degree of awareness of what it means to propose a music reflecting the spirit of our times, while remaining much more communicative than experimental classical music.

Border music employs devices taken from different genres and countries. It may use the technique of piano clusters, or that of circular breathing, combining it with a modal jazz chord progression. It may record the voices of the Tuva people and play them against the background of a swarming string quartet and live electronics (the Kronos Quartet did this). It may combine the latest technologies with traditional instruments, orienting the search for meaning towards content, rather than the empty formalism of languages. Border music stretches the boundaries of academic music, bridging the gap between performer and composer (as in the case of the Balanescu Quartet and many other ensembles), leaving room for improvisation, and granting equal dignity to musical productions by musicians from non-conventional areas (rock, for example, like Frank Zappa; or jazz, like John Zorn).

Few Italian border music composers are also performers. Those who are come from different parts of Italy and different personal experiences. As inventor of the neologism "border music" and theorist of the new forms of border music, I feel that my aesthetics and works put me in the same category as composer and pianist Eugenio Fels. We both come from the so-called "new avant-garde", which arose in Naples in the Seventies thanks to the compositions and initiatives of Luciano Cilio, and is currently represented by the Konsequenz Music Project, which publishes a journal and an Internet site, and organizes an annual concert season. In Milan there is Ludovico Einaudi, who delved in the field of experimental music in the past, but has currently left that experience far behind, and Cecilia Chailly, who blends new age with folk music (especially in her first record as a composer). Finally, there is the Roman Arturo Stalteri of the Florentine "factory" Materiali Sonori, a classical musician with experiences in the field of pop and rock music. I would also categorize as "border musicians" the Palermitan cellist Giovanni Sollima and, in recent years, Carlo Boccadoro, leader of the Milanese ensemble Sentieri selvaggi.

A stripped-down list of landmark records should include, in my opinion: Salgari (Ricordi), Stanze (Ricordi), and Eden Roc (BMG), by Ludovico Einaudi; Anima (Eastwest) by Cecilia Chailly; Alkèmia (Konsequenz) by Eugenio Fels; my own Ice-tract (Konsequenz 1998 - Curci 2000); André sulla luna (MP Records) and Flowers (Materiali Sonori) by Arturo Stalteri. In these records, our music employs electric amplification, various other technologies, and Cdrs, but it always strives to be communicative and pleasing to the listener. Of course, it is not an empty box. We combine a new stylistic essentiality with a complete assimilation of contemporary musical idioms. So far, the public's favor seems to have proved us right.