Sound and Silence with Katerina Tzedaki

Katerina Tzedaki describes herself first as a composer and sound artist, then researcher of acoustic ecology and academic teacher of sound arts, and finally as a life-time student. “It is interesting to pass knowledge to the younger generation, and also to learn from them. It is a relation that is very fruitful, and it is interactive.” Since 2004 she has been working at the Department of Music Technology and Acoustics of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete, where she teaches sound design and interactive music systems.

 She explains that in her life the role of sound and music must be in relation to silence - a statement that seems exemplified in the balance and calmness of her voice - and in the relation between music, life, inner sounds, silence, and soundscapes through sounding practices.

 Katerina Tzedaki will be opening Kinisi Festival of Sound on Friday 21 October with a soundwalk leading the audience through the village of Pyrgos, as well as a collaborative element together with the FYRO Macedonaian Dzambo Agushevi Orkestar.  She will also be working with RadioKit Collective in leading a sound-mapping workshop in locations across the island.

 Being born and raised in Crete, when the decision was made to study music after high school there were limited opportunities for gaining Western musical education anywhere in Greece. “There were of course options for studying traditional music, but in fact I wasn’t really interested in Cretan traditional music at the time, to be honest. Maybe because I was so much inside these sound environments and soundscapes that I wanted to have different experiences.” Katerina went to Athens to study at a conservatoire, which at the time was the main access to Western musical education. By recommendation she followed the classes of a particular teacher, Yiannis Ioannides, whom she names as the first influence on her practice.

KT: Ioannides was not really following the system of the conservatoire. In a way he was teaching composition from the beginning. His lessons were also seminars for all of us in the history of music in the 20th century. It all started from this. He was a great person and he introduced all of us to the connections and relations in music from the ancient Greeks and Chinese to Western and he had a magical way to connect music from different systems. So we had the opportunity to analyse, listen and compose. And that was my first experience of – well my first music school. I was 18 and had just finished high school in Crete and went to Athens where I met this teacher. It was amazing.

She later joined the Centre of Contemporary Music Research in Athens, which provided the tools for developing further her practice within sound programming, recording, montage and splice-cut techniques.

 Katerina’s contribution to Kinisi Festival of Sound will be a soundwalk: a practice that emerged through the development of the field of acoustic ecology.

KT: Acoustic ecology refers to the balance of sounds in our everyday life and in our environment. That’s the main question – the dynamic balance of sounds, and how these sounds are helpful or not in our lives, and not only for us but also for the other species we share the planet with.

She describes it as what might be on older practice that was reinvented by a group of scholars and composers including Hildegard Westerkamp and Murray Schafer among others, in Vancouver in the 1970s. Incentivised by studying the sounds of our environments, how they are created and the relation they have to our lives, the term soundscape was invented to denote sound environments as composites.

KT: The term soundscape is connected to the space, the place. There is a place and this soundscape is the soundscape of this place, which includes all sounds. But in the definition developed by Schafer he also somehow inserts the idea that a soundscape can be an imaginary sonic environment, such as a musical composition. He writes in his book ‘Soundscape – The Tuning of the World’ that even absolute music could be considered as “ideal soundscapes of the mind.” In a way he also suggests that one might consider that our environment, the sonic environment, the soundscape, is a continuous composition, it’s a continuous music that is playing all the time and in which we are sometimes the composers, sometimes the creators, sometimes the listeners and sometimes all three at once. Everything is sound, and everything is music. That’s it.


Photo by Marcos Andronicou