Július Fujak: P E N T R O F Ó N I A
2. PENTRO I. In my grandfather’s attic
3. PENTRO II. Christmas is in the details
4. PENTRO III. Unrest in the room
5. PENTRO IV. Cross of rain
In the slang of Slovakia’s Kysuce region, “pentro” means an attic in a barn or in a house. This composition is based on my childhood, when my brother Edo and I used to go up to my grandfather’s attic in the village of Podvysoká, where we would play with his half-forgotten, dust-covered musical instruments – large drums and a so-called sidewalk cimbalom, which probably fascinated me the most. Since I had no idea how to actually play the thing, I explored it using my fingers... (I use them to this day in various projects). While we were in that attic (pentro), various sounds would occasionally "seep" up through the wooden floorboards from the kitchen below, in particular the radio, which was turned on almost all the time, or someone playing the accordion (my grandfather and especially my father were excellent accordionists). With Pentrofónia, I have tried to blend together all these memories – including the metaphor of the “pentro” as an amazing place that, through its mysterious otherness, invited us to engage in creative and inquisitive play. In a sense, this composition pays homage to all the things I have received from my ancestors, not only in that attic.
I take an unconventional approach to playing the small sidewalk cimbalom (which I also used to play using two stones, one fished from the bottom of the sea, the other an old whetstone for sharpening scythes that belonged to my grandmother Eva on my mother’s side) and my semi-altered piano, approaching them as quasi-sonoristic electroacoustic instruments, although occasionally I also play them in a pizzicato style like an old lyre. To this, I add the creaking of wooden floorboards, the sound of touching the rough plaster of the chimney, the wooden walls and beams in the attic and the sound of striking them, playing the large nails driven into them like a mbira. I also mix in the electronic-kinetic bands of radio stations being tuned in real time (thus evoking that sonic “seeping” from my memories...).
This layering and “contamination” of various parallel audio layers also reflects the fact that, whether at my grandfather’s or at home, we would always talk while the radio or other sounds were going on in the background. All of this was a part of our live (living) acoustic space... In addition, ever since I was a young boy, I always liked it when two stations were mixed together on the radio, and to this day I find songs – for instance by Schubert – most interesting when something is unexpectedly mixed in, something acoustically completely different, for instance a sound from the open window...
This multiple-part composition also expresses the feeling of inundation and related fatigue that I have been sensing from postmodern Euro-Atlantic culture for a long time now.
* Recorded over a period from November 2009 to February 2010:
- specific sounds from the attic (pentro) of the home of Ján Fujak, Sr. in Podvysoká
- his son (my father) Ján Fuják playing the accordion in Čadca
- sidewalk cimbalom in my flat in Novomeská Street in Nitra
- semi-altered piano, Music Department room B-101, Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
- radio and final mix at Par Avion studio in Žilina (sound engineer: Ján Sikora)
Final editing and sound adjustment: Czech Radio, Vltava 3, for “Radiocustica” with Michal Rataj, 22 Feb. 2010 in Prague;
Julius Fujak: Pentrophonia