Louis Siciliano, composer & pianist

Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life and career?

When I was 15 years old, I had to be assistant to Antonio De Santis, co-founder of IRCAM in Paris with Pierre Boulez. De Santis was a very innovative composer and he was an important pioneer of computer music. As a teenager I was at his house every afternoon. For me it was a real artisan training in the world of sounds. I lived in his studio as if I were in a mechanical workshop. Then, after some years, I had the privilege of connecting with Wayne Shorter. An extraordinary gift of life.

I have always drawn like a sponge from everything that interested me: I studied shehnai with Ustad Ali Abbas Khan and Sarangi with Pandit Kanhaiyalal Mishra in Varanasi on the Ganges. Indian music has always played a central role in my research activity as well as classical African music, which today is the basis of Cuban liturgical music played with batà. In addition, I have also conducted a lot of orchestras and choirs, I’ve practiced a lot of Renaissance vocal music, and I’ve conducted a lot of Baroque instrumental music from my hometown, Naples.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I am happy to have been able to write a book like MUSIC MULTIVERSE EXPLORATION: A NEW COSMOLOGY OF THE SOUND. Thanks to this very important event in my life, I started with the first stage of my musical journey which is called FOLDS OF TIME and it is the album I recorded with the MUMEx Trio. Everything I’ve done before is a prologue to all of this. I am aware that I am only at the beginning. Every day I work 10/12 hours in putting my musical language that someone has defined as holistic in his approach.

Of which works are you most proud?

Unfortunately, I am never proud. I am very strict with myself. I had to attend two psychoanalysts from different schools, one Jungian and the other Lacanian, for more than 25 years. I must say that the situation has improved a lot after so many years of psychotherapy but I have a very hard head and some things are hard to scratch. However, the important thing is to make music. In the end, music remains the most powerful medicine and the most beautiful therapy that I know. Music is my spiritual path.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

To answer your question, I try to explain to you what the MUMEx metalanguage is:

Through this meta-language, every architect-composer-performer will be able to freely build his own neighbuorhood, as it were, or an entire city, why not? Stravinsky said: “freedom for me is to be aware of the borders”. The peculiarity of MUMEx (MUSIC MULTIVERSE EXPLORATION) is that it will ensure that each neighbourhood (structural element) is in harmony and in complete coherence with the other districts. Very much to the detriment of what happens in our modern cities today, where now only wild cement reigns and chaos is dictated by the building speculation to favor the interests of the political class. MUMEx therefore, is a management model that serves to “freely organize” the melodic flow, counterpoint lines, sound agglomerates, rhythmic figures and the tonal microstructures created by the composers-performers. MUMEx gives life to what I call real-time composition. It is a kind of “probabilistic music,” where the executive paths change every time. In reality, there are millions of possible routes, but only one will be the right one: the choice made “here and now.” This choice is perfect for the moment in which it is realized and never can be repeated, because the next time will be the turn of another perfect choice. This Music is in connection with all the infinite dimensions: “INFINITE MUSIC”. I repeated to myself, “there must be a universal law that regulates the life of musical structures,” like the Einstein theory of relativity. “As above, so below,” the hermetics said. The law that permeates music is the same that moves and regulates the Universes. I began to deepen the immense didactic work of Slominsky, Schillinger, Hindemith and Messiaen, not to mention the works of the eternal J.S. Bach. From all these studies, I have been able to identify a fundamental concept in music: Symmetry.

From the symmetry of intervalic structures, I then landed at MUSIC MULTIVERSE EXPLORATION.

As a composer how do you work?

I have spent my whole life up to now studying, researching, speculating, analysing. I was 7 when I consciously said to myself: I want to be a composer. Everyone thought I wanted to be a painter. In fact, in a certain sense, I also did this because mine is sound painting. Today I am focused on how to make the right hemisphere dialogue with the left hemisphere to give shape to the composition in MUMEx style which is not improvisation but composition in real time. This specification is very important because the composition starts from other ontological presuppositions.

Tell us more about your new album Folds of Time…..

FOLDS OF TIME is a suite in 4 movements where the piano, the double bass and the drums are all on the same level: There is no primary musical instrument and the one it accompanies. It is a continuous interplay between three timbral / expressive entities that constantly dialogue in Mumex code. The listener finds himself traveling in historical eras and through different musical styles that the MUMEx approach of the trio makes homogeneous. It is like thinking of the heart, the liver, the brain, all of which work together integrated in the body. One body. Our approach in FOLDS OF TIME is organic, close to certain processes that occur in Nature. We pursue nature and try to penetrate the dynamics of the processes that take place in the biological world through our artistic intuition, the result is a music that those who listen to it tell me, manages to evoke the breath and something pulsating that recalls life. In summary, the vital principle that animates our language is in deep listening that goes beyond hearing. Everything comes from silence.

You are also a pianist. How does your work as a pianist influence your composing, and vice versa?

I am a composer who plays the piano. I have too much respect for pianists to claim to be a pianist. I use the piano as if it were the canvas of my sound painting which is a vision. I live constantly in an auditory dream state if we can say so. Mine are sound visions that I express in real time on the piano. It should be noted that I have spent years and years in the instrumental practice of many musical instruments from various parts of the world. Then I have always been a fan of Synths. I have always created my Synths patches by myself. To close I would say that there has always been a profitable exchange between my speculative world and physically playing the instrument. They both affect each other.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Being able to give shape to one’s own sound and then resonate with people. Let’s not forget that music has a very important social function which is therapeutic. It feeds people’s imagery. Unfortunately they try to downgrade music to mere entertainment. It is not. Music first of all is a spiritual path that connects human beings to that incredible energy that moves the cosmos. Music is the essence of UNIVERSAL LOVE. True success is knowing how to enjoy and knowing how to transmit this INFINITE LOVE to others.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians and composers?

Not to give a damn about all the marketing concepts, this and that, all things that have nothing to do with music. Stay focused on the music. Work on your music in truth and authenticity. After this terrible experience of the pandemic, people want the truth. We must return to authenticity. it is this profound truth that means that live music can never be supplanted by any artificial intelligence and derivatives. Be totally devoted to music. This is what I try to convey to young musicians in my masterclasses and to those who contact me as a producer for some of their albums.

What’s the one thing we’re not talking about in the music industry which you feel we should be?

We must never tire of saying that the heart of all music-related activities is live performance. Nothing can ever replace live performance. I spent years in research, traveling around the world in search of musical instruments and sound languages, in deepening and the thing I understood is that live music has a regenerative power with which nothing can compete. We need to encourage performance in the new generations because it is the only way to cultivate the right hemisphere of the brain. A human being who does not use his right hemisphere is as if he were living with a potential expressed at 50%. It is very important to always reiterate the centrality of the rite of the live concert.

What next – where would you like to be in 10 years?

I never talk about the future and I don’t think about it. Imagine that in the ancient world the future tense in verbs was introduced very late by the Greeks. The future is an expression coined by power. Power has always limited people with fear of the future. Music is the Art of the here and now. It lives and feeds on the present. For me the present is the alpha and the omega. I have worked a lot on this aspect in my spiritual research. Everyone stay in the present and life will turn into a truly thrilling and exciting journey. MUMEx Trio celebrates this presents with joy and vitality through their own music. We look forward to seeing you at our concerts.

Folds of Time by MUMEx Trio is available now.

Louis Siciliano  is a multi-awards winning film-music composer, trumpet artist, poly-instrumentalist, conductor, 5.1 mix engineer, music performer and producer, based in Los Angeles, California. His film-music combines many musical styles: symphonic film-music, electronic music, new-jazz, world-music, indie Rock, Opera and experimental music. He produced, composed, orchestrated, conducted and mixed his Soundtracks for many international film productions.