[June 28] Talking Drums by Sergio Krakowski

Harvestworks is pleased to host the first of our Inspiration Series with a talk by composer Sergio Krakowski. The work will be performed on Sunday June 28, 2015 at the American Museum of the Moving Image.

“Talking drums” is a multi-media piece in three movements for percussion, guitar, piano and electronics, which investigates the connections between music and speech using rhythm as the common element in both forms of expression. It summarizes ten years of technological and musical work by Sergio Krakowski including a PhD research in Computer Music and a myriad of concerts. This research is focused on the use of the pandeiro (tambourine considered a symbol of Brazilian music) to control several aspects of video/audio synthesis. The reason for that is manyfold: 1.To ally ancient tools to cutting edge technology. 2.To shed light on Brazilian culture. 3.To open a new world to percussion

Sunday, June 28th, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Museum of Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave, New York, NY 11106

The piece to be commissioned will have three movements: literal, metaphorical and analogical, as a reference to the three layers of interpretation that a piece of art can have, according to the Italian poet Dante Alighieri in his essay, “The Banquet”. Other important references are the works “Visage” by Luciano Berio, “Americans” by Scott Johnson, and “Different Trains” by Steve Reich, although none of them uses the interactive visual aspects we propose here.

Literal mov. – From analysis to synthesis. In this section, the voice of an ethnomusicologist presenting the talking drums (African instruments) becomes the source of minimalistic cells ironically creating a bridge between anthropologic speech and sound synthesis.

Metaphorical mov. – From ancient to new. The use of story telling videos as elements rhythmically sequenced by the pandeiro creates a trance-like oneiric aesthetics out of historic information.

Analogical mov. – From material to ethereal. Inspired by Jean Cocteau’s movie, “Orfeus”, this section uses telegraphs as the paradigm of communication between earth and heaven.

The purely rhythmic nature of Morse code frees speech from the body and includes it in the realm of abstract musical phrases. Commissioned by Harvestworks with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.


Born on December 18th 1979, Sergio dedicated his whole life to the Pandeiro, also known as the Brazilian Tambourine. A complete “hand drum kit”, this instrument has always been considered a symbol of Brazilian Music and Culture. Crossing whatever national and cultural barrier, Sergio made this instrument a possible tool in various musical genres, from the Choro, the fundament of Brazilian Music, to Jazz, Contemporary and Electronic Music.

Besides his musical career, Sergio plunged into the application of his knowledge acquired in a Computer Music PhD to allow percussion instruments to trigger videos, control effects and interact with the machine, creating real time dialogues between percussionist and computer. This research turned into an electronic music project named “Talking Drums“ that has been presented in a myriad of stages such as The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, The Stone (as guest of Cyro Baptista), Drom NYC, (Le) Poisson Rouge NYC and Circo Voador, in Rio de Janeiro.

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