Latin American Electroacoustic Music Collection

Jorge Antunes, Música para Varreduras de Freqüências, 1963

Recording time: 2 min 23 s.
Instruments: Tape
Recorded at: Home studio. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Remarks: Music for Frequency Sweepings

Other resources available:
- Biography of Jorge Antunes
- Compositions by Jorge Antunes

About this composition:

In 1963, when Antunes produced this short piece, technological conditions in his home-made studio in Rua Oestes were still extremely precarious. Difficulties could not be overcome with the apparatuson hand: the space available was also problematic.
Antunes was working in a small room in an apartment in which the upright piano was kept. The young composer's father, painter and academic Carlos Antunes, was a collector of antiques and wall clocks, and so the walls of the room were covered by dozens of cuckoo clocks and 8-day clocks. The noise from the ticking was infernal, and the chimes, never synchronised, also were deafening.
With the complicity of his mother, Olinda de Freitas Antunes, the young violinist stopped all the clocks whenever his father went out to work. In this way, it was possible to make recordings, although the background noise would always be accompanied by the racket coming from the Globo Coffee and the Behring Chocolates factories which were nearby in Rua Orestes. A little before 6pm, Jorge Antunes, his sister Mara and his mother would clear up, restart and reset all the clocks to working correctly.
Tired of being restricted to the sound material of the saw-tooth wave generator, Jorge Antunes managed to find an LP of special sound effects, suitable for making soundtracks. The record brought some new electronic sounds into his repertoire: the "sweepings" or "swishings" of rising frequencies with vibrato. The credits on the LP defined the sound as "the sound of a flying saucer (UFO)".
The Music for Frequency Sweepings was produced with the use of this sound material, connected to the resources of the generator constructed by the composer. It is electronic sound rising with glissando copied from the record. Antunes also used transpositions of the sound, produced by varying the recorder's speed. The saw-tooth wave generator provided ascending and descending glissando effects.
The rudimentary technique of recording, without cutting or editing of the tape inadvertantly includes some of the "wow and flutter" inherent in these sounds. Antunes, accepting the aesthetics of precariousness, and gave these "defects" a musical value.