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On May 14, 2021, New Amsterdam Records will release Decir—“to say”—the debut seven-piece song cycle from Francisco del Pino, an award-winning Argentine composer who explores the seams between classical and vernacular traditions. Conceived as the staging of a long poem, the work was scored for voice, electric guitar, viola, and percussion, with lyrics by Argentine poet Victoria Cóccaro. Cecilia Pastorino, a classically trained soprano—a renowned figure in South America’s folk scene—sings Cóccaro’s timely lyrics of migration, displacement, and the rise of historically silenced voices.
A guitarist and Ph.D. fellow in composition at Princeton University, del Pino, whose work is often based on extensive contrapuntal techniques, draws influence from both classical notated music and contemporary pop, rock, and folk genres. Cóccaro, a poet and researcher, has written on the body’s role in contemporary South American poetry for various academic journals.
“We work with different mediums,” says del Pino, “but we both share an inclination toward pattern and process in our writing.” In Decir, the artists’ shared inclinations are united. Born during a process of intense collaboration, the work originated as a homonymous 50-minute theatrical concert of songs and poetry commissioned by Teatro Argentino de La Plata Centro de Experimentación y Creación.
A reflection on the materiality of writing, the piece unfolds to explore notions of territory, both in a topographical and sociocultural sense. The song titles—“el viento” (“the wind”), “el agua” (“the water”), “la piedra” (“the stone”), “el campo” (“the country”)—serve as a sort of map, leading the listener across a landscape, animating the spirit, enlivening the body. Like the wind moves across the water, the stones, the country, the breath passes through the skin, the bones, the being—the body announces its presence, the voice becomes a place.
sobre el suelo, el peso (over the ground the weight)
el peso de estar— (the weight of being—)
a cielo abierto (to the open air)
en el campo (in the field)
el sonido está siempre (the sound is always)
afuera y vos (outside and you)
– “el campo” (“the country”), track 2
“For the past few years, not only in southern Latin America, but also in Europe, in the United States, and other areas, public spaces have been occupied by bodies, by voices,” says Cóccaro. “These bodies, these voices, often cry out for those who are no longer with us. The voices of those who are not in the voices of those who are.”
las voces de las que no (the voices of those that no)
las voces de las que si (the voices of those that yes)
– “las voces” (“the voices”), track 6
Structured in a series of seven songs, the music acts as a response to the lyrics—absorbing the words, echoing them back with new meaning. During the recital, Decir is augmented with visuals by Argentine artist Maximiliano Bellmann; with the lyrics projected on a wall, handwritten in real-time by Cóccaro, a geometric chain of mountains appears—a topographic representation of both the words and music. (Bellmann’s art is featured on the record’s cover).
“Decir is my most direct musical work so far,” says del Pino. “Many of my most cherished influences are there—folk, rock, and post-rock songwriting intertwined with process-based musical structures, extensive use of counterpoint, and a mathematical approach to the musical form.”
“Perhaps decir, ‘to say,’ is a way of making the body present,” says Cóccaro. “Perhaps decir, ‘to say,’ is a way of making a voice become a place.”
Decir, the debut seven-piece song cycle from Francisco del Pino, is an abstract exercise in transforming words into worlds (and vice versa). Throughout the work, many bodies, many mediums, host many voices. Decir has much to say. We need only be ready to listen.
released May 14, 2021
Cecilia Pastorino, vocals
Daniela Cervetto, drums & percussion
Francisco del Pino, electric guitar
Pablo Jivo, viola
Victoria Cóccaro, spoken recitation in “La piedra”
Recorded at 0618 & Ideo Music, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Pablo López Ruiz
All compositions by Francisco del Pino
All lyrics by Victoria Cóccaro
Lyrics translated by Victoria Cóccaro & Rebekah Smith
Francisco del Pino is an Argentinian composer and guitarist. His music, which draws influence from both classical and
vernacular traditions, revolves around process and pattern and is usually based on extensive contrapuntal techniques. Composer/critic Peter Reynolds described it as “elegant, utterly new but highly expressive”....more
Dearest Arooj, firstly thank you. My brother died this year n what can be said about such loss n sadness. I saw n heard you at The end of the Road in England. I spent many years in India n love all the music, poetry of your heritage. Thankyou Arooj❤️ ben1769
I have been entranced by Caroline Davis's music since the Wonderful Heart Tonic. Then the beautiful Anthems, followed by this swirling masterpiece. Also just picked up Live Work & Play. Caroline Davis is THE jazz musician to watch. Robert Middleton