The performance Gira is my current work-in-progress. It is an improvised piece where I dance and play with the digital instrument Giromin. The work was inspired by the dance of Whirling Dervishes (from the Turkish Sufi traditions) and of Pombas Giras (an Orixá from the African Brazillian religion Candomblé). In this piece, I explore the transcendence of the differences between music and dance, where each gesture is closely connected to an analogous sound.
I seek to enter a state of trance inspired by the Sufi meditative movements, where there is a symbolism representing the killing of the Ego and reconnection with God. Pomba Gira is a type of Exu, an Orixá responsible for mediating the spiritual and material World, transforming the perception of space and time. I seek in my composition to express this dissolution through a continuous rotation connected with a repetitive arpeggiator sound, with a continually changing harmony with a fixed higher note, changing the harmony constantly while the melody stays the same.
The bpm of the arpeggiator is controlled by my rotating speed changing the perception of time and the height of the arm and torso’s inclination are mapped to parameters of a low-pass filter of a subtractive synthesizer, and of the intensity of the stage lighting, giving a strong sense of liveness. The sense of space is altered by disappearing in darkness and appearing back in different places. I sometimes play the Giromin with a musical intention, searching for specific sounds that naturally create interesting dancing patterns. In other moments I focus on a dance intention, which produces music that surprises me and makes me move differently. These feedback loops between dance and music help me to build this transcendence, making me lose my self along the performance and connect with the audience through new possibilities.
I use two nodes of the Giromin, one fixed in my torso and the other on my right arm. Each one is composed of a three-dimension Gyroscope and Accelerometer, giving out orientation (in Euler Angles) and the rotation speed of each limb. They are connected wirelessly to a Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08 Module. With the Giromin, I control the parameters of LFO frequency, arpeggiator bpm, cutoff frequency, and resonance. My partner Miguel Mendes selects the notes of the arpeggiator on a Keyboard controller and plays along with a Novation II Bass Station synthesizer. Carlos Filho collaborated with the performance by singing and controlling with another Giromin node on his arm the reverb of his voice.
Example of a Sufi ritual with the Whirling Dervishes meditation
Example of a Afro-Brazillian ritual with an embodied pomba-gira: