Marcelo Petraglia
Foto: ©Gabriel Petraglia
Flexabau ©MarceloPetraglia

Marcelo Petraglia


My instruments

For me, the three instrument families of wind instruments, string instruments and drums are extensions of the musical human body. They amplify the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic abilities of our own musicality in different directions. My challenge is to individualize musical processes and configure instruments that can reflect parts as well as the whole musical process at the same time. Sound bodies made of stone, wood, metal, membranes, strings and air ring out in their raw form and are organized or shaped according to their properties in order to embody tones and let their musical essence flow freely. For me, designing and building instruments is an extension of my compositional process. The music that the instruments have to play is that which until then had been trapped in its substance and structure and which the inner ear sought to question and time and again carefully freed. When I play, I serve what is in the silence and wants to sound. I feel a kind of struggle, a game in which one seeks the integration and fusion of two worlds that are at the same time distant and inseparable, the inner world of the creative will and the world of the materialist of sound. There is no such thing as perfection or a final result, only one way. I lend my will to the music, hoping it will create a new being for the searching ear to contemplate and transform.

I began researching and building instruments in a very intuitive way, largely inspired by the instrumental music of the Uakti Ensemble (Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1978-2015) and the instrument inventor Walter Smetak (1913-1984), whom I met at the Ouro Preto Music Festival. My first instruments basically used food cans and oil cans, wires, pieces of wood, screws and pipes I found at home or at a "junkyard". When I was living in Europe I had the opportunity to study and work for a year in Manfred Belfert's “musical” forge in Heiligenberg. At that time, my focus was on the production of metal percussion instruments (metallophones, gongs, cymbals, etc.). This experience was very important for me and decisive for everything else, because there I was able to experience the processes that take place when the raw material is transformed into a sounding body. Back in Brazil I continued to work with brass instruments for about 20 years and also developed stringed instruments for educational and therapeutic purposes. At the same time, I created instruments for my own musical work, which essentially had an exploratory character: composition and instrument became an integrated process. These days my interest has shifted more to tonal issues and so my latest instruments try to provide resources aside from timbre to work on more melodic and harmonic aspects of the music. This is how a large metallophone, a clavichord, keyboard sets with different moods, flutes with harmonics, multichords were created.



Marcelo S. Petraglia (1961) Music Educator, graduated at the ECA-USP; Specialist in Hospital and Organizational Music Therapy at FMU, São Paulo. Masters in Biology from UNESP-Botucatu and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the Department of Psychology of the São Paulo University. He expanded his studies in singing and music composition at the Emerson College (UK) and in the "Musikalisch-Plastische Arbeitsstätte für Klangforschung"(Germany) and engaged himself in the research and manufacture of metal percussion instruments.

The work of Marcelo Petraglia is dedicated to the study of music, sound and vibration phenomena and their relationship to humans and the environment. His work seeks new ways of making music and social interaction through the creation of instruments.

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