La Sinfonía de Babel [Babel’s Symphony]


  • Nicolás Arnáez University of Alberta



sound installation, sound art, Borges, Berio, sonorous texture, Max MSP, library, symphony, reading


At its core, the practice of creating sound installations as sonic art involves presenting and manipulating audio in a gallery-like setting. In the case of "La Sinfonía de Babel" the usage of pre-existing musical and literary phrases, or "quoting," formulates the substantive basis for a non-interactive quadraphonic piece that challenges preconceptions of appropriation, citation, and plagiarism where it concerns composition. Inspired by the works “Sinfonia” by Italian composer Luiciano Berio, and “La Biblioteca de Babel” by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, "La Sinfonía de Babel" recontextualizes conventional ideas of musical narratives by combining and indeterminately presenting excerpts of six hundred and forty looped musical works from different time periods, thus generating a thick and immersive cluster of audio. Within this milieu, auditors are invited to sit and read Borges’ text whilst simulataneously identifying musical familiarities within the cluster, hence experiencing quoting on a multi-dimensional level. This paper offers a methodological and aesthetic overview of Berio and Borges' works, focusing specifically on how citation is approached from musical and literary perspectives. Furthermore, structural and technical methodologies are analyzed as a means of better understanding the overarching creative process.



How to Cite

Arnáez, Nicolás. 2018. “La Sinfonía De Babel [Babel’s Symphony]”. Intonations 1 (1):12-23.