Biography and Work
Carlos Sandoval was born in an archetypal barrio in downtown Mexico city. Since his childhood he was exposed to harrowing social and cultural conditions which were later reflected in his work. He has lived in Mexico City (1956–64), Cuernavaca City (1964–78 and 1983-03), New York City (1979), Vienna (1980–82), Los Angeles California (1983) and Berlin, Germany (2003–present). In 2009 he became a German citizen and now holds a dual Mexican-German passport/nationality. Having abandoned his studies at Escuela Nacional de Música UNAM 1976-79 (classical guitar and composition), Sandoval went on to study composition, analysis and theory, privately, with Julio Estrada (1985–90). He also assisted and took part in private sessions with a number of composers, including Brian Ferneyhough, Joji Yuasa, Peter Garland, Lorenc Barber, Leo Brouwer, François Bernard Mâche, James Tenney, Stefano Scodanibio and Iannis Xenakis. Sandoval is among a few active Mexican composers of his generation who did not receive education primarily in Europe or the US and have no formal degree in composing. He did however, eventually take up studying in Europe, where he learnt Piano tuning and construction at the Bösendorfer Klavier Fabrik in Vienna (1980–82). This stint, rather than the "Vienna School") changed his outlook on music in general. Later on As photo- and videographer he studied with Fabri (Austria), Sirgo (Mexico) and Fathi (Berlin). His work has been shown mostly in Germany but also in Mexico, France, UK and The Netherlands. Since 1999, with no interruption, he has been fellow of the SNCA which is the highest recognition awarded to Mexican artists by the Mexican Government. He also worked as an assistant to Conlon Nancarrow (1991–94). He has been invited to take part numerous events and contemporary music festivals such as Darmstadt Summer Courses (1990 Germany), Donaueschingen Musik Tage (1994 Germany), and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2009, UK, headlining), among others. He is an author of multiple articles and essays about music. Recently, Sandoval has been focusing on combining both music and video, "Maquina Latina" being his last piece.
Early Work — Estradian-Xenakian period (1987-1990)
Throughout his career, Sandoval has explored several ways of making music. His early work can be identified with Julio Estrada's Techniques and the Xenakian school and includes the use of Cartesian graphics representing sonic trajectories and its evolutions, multi parametrics (utilizing several simultaneous performance and compositional resources in a single line or stave) as well as internal sonic imagination analysis. "Ginantria", for cello solo, 1990, is the best example of this period. A number of out-of-cataloque pieces also belong to this stage:
- "Traepes", 1985, 4:58", Glissandi studies, made before his studies). Chamula harp and tuning forks.
- "Filos", 1987–89, 12:00" Chamber concert, never premiered.
- "Lomos", 1989, 7:35" UPIC System
- "Ginantria", 1990, 12:05" Violoncello.
- "Homenaje", 1991, 7:39" UPIC system
Postmodern-Synthesis Period (1993-04)
In 1991 Sandoval met Conlon Nancarrow and began work as his assistant (1991–94). During this period Sandoval expanded and combined his resources. The influence of Nancarrow´s music was strong at this time while some remains of Xenakian styl were also present. Sandoval´s musical thinking began to lose channelization. This lack of "school", "channelized impulse" or "Style" ("Style is just a super thin ham slice between your "freedom" and your own limitations" (Sandoval, 2009)) remained a characteristic of his work and can be easily identified with a radical postmodern approach. Besides this, it took Sandoval almost four years to assimilate and synthesize the influence of both Estrada and Nancarrow, apparently the polar opposites of one another but in fact both belonging to a Cartesian, rational, object-oriented way of thinking. Sandoval's music from this period is described well by the list of 16 postmodern music characteristics defined by Kramer (Kramer 2002, 16–17). Between 2002 and 2003, just prior to relocating to Germany, Sandoval published two of his "manifestos": "Imaginación, análisis y posmodernismo" and "De la fenomenología al ejercicio estético, o una apología del cinismo".
- "Slow piece for Player Piano", 1993, Player piano.
- "Fast Piece for Player Piano", 1993, 6:23" Player piano
- "Fast Piece for computer controlled acoustical instruments", 1994, 6:23", pf., xil., barrel organ, vib. and accordion.
- "Negative Study for Sensible Hands", 1996, Sensors on Hands, first gloves prototype.
- "Suite Antimodem", 1997, 50:00", ETC-ETC Ensemble. Bio-energetics, disposition and improvisation.
- "Pf-01", 1998, 7:58", Piano,
- "Pf-02", 1999, 7:49", (Huitzilac period) Piano,
- "La Pasión Según la Gente", 1999, 25:27" Indian Brass band, Cl, B.cl, percusión and tape
- "8to-01", 2000-01: Ca. 15:00" (Fellini's Circus Series), Flute, G FLute, Cl., B. Cl., Pf and string quitent.
- "CcPf-01", 2001, 7:49" (Fellini's Circus Series), String Quartet and piano.
- "CcPf-02", 2001, 7:49" (Fellini's Circus Series),String Quartet and piano.
- "FlClPf-01", 2001, 7:49"(Fellini's Circus Series), Flute, Clarinet and Piano.
- "FlClPf-02", 2001, 7:49" (Fellini's Circus Series), Flute, Clarinet and Piano.
- "FlCl-01", 2001, 7:49" (Fellini's Circus Series), Flute, Clarinet.
- "PfMd-01", 2001, 16:35" (Fellini's Circus Series), Piano and CD.
- "CcMd-01", 2002, 13:47" String quartet and CD. Premiered by the Arditti String Quartet.
- "Pf-03", 2002, 7:49" (Fellini's Circus Series), Piano.
- "Bcl-01", 2002, 7:49" (Fellini's Circus Series), Bass Clarinet.
- "KPmd01", 2002–03, Ca. 15:00" (Fellini's Circus Series), Orchestra, piano and tape.
- "K-02" 2004, Ca. 10:.00" (Fellini's Circus Series), Orchestra and toy airplanes.
- "K-03" 2005, Ca. 9:.00" (Fellini's Circus Series), Orchestra.
German Period 1 (2003-2007)
Carlos Sandoval moved to Berlin, Germany in September 2003. His first German project was "Mextoys", 2003–04, 80:00", commissioned by the Festival Eigenarten and the Culture Ministry in Hamburg and premiered at the city’s prestigious Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. Although this piece had three background works ("Negative Study for Sensitive Hands", 1996, "Suite Antimoden", 1997 and "La Pasión Según la Gente", 1999), it constituted a breakthrough in Sandoval's work: it was his first true "phenomenological" work, his first full multimedia piece and his first work joining video and music into a single conceptual and constructive layer. This point marked Sandoval's departure from traditional score writing and deterministic thinking, towards developing either an experience-oriented cognitive approach to music and a cognitive Piagetian approach to animism towards music and life in general, within concepts like "Lifework", "Empathy and Subjectivity", "Evidence", "Intuition", "Intentionality of consciousness" and, last but not least, Technoethics, opposed to a strict "Artificial Intelligence" objective, non-experience based approach ("...AI algorithms do not make sense by itself. It is the assumed, and forgotten, horizon of everyday practice that make technological devices and solutions show up as meaningful." See Dreyfuss).
"A video camera is not just a tool, it is also an animal. If we animalize our tools, we will finally stop talking about them, in the academic sense of talking”
Jean Piaget´s theories of language as an object and the cognitive inability to distinguish the external world from one's own psyche, had a strong influence in Sandoval's work in this period.
- "Mex-toys", 2003–04, three movements., 80:00", percussion, dance, video and tape. Scenes from videoclips projected during the performance are reenacted live by the musicians performing on stage.
- "The Birth of a Ship", 2006, 25:00", Ships as living organisms and percussion instruments. Lange Nacht der Museen, Senatsverwaltung für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur, the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin and the TU Studio Berlin.
- "Die Schaukel", 2007, 3:08:06" Improvised ritual, sound installation, stage actions and live electronics. Bauhaus Naunynstr. Interaktion Festival, Initiative Neue Music, The Tilt.
- "Petenera", 2004, 11:50", guitar, toy guitar, tuning-fork, tape and stage action, in two movements. The guitarist becomes a mother, the toy guitar the baby.
- "Qu Vara", 2004, 10:14" trombone, water, saliva, tape and stage actions
- "Qu Trompa", 2007, 10:14" Trumpet, water, saliva, tape and stage actions
German Period 2 (2006-2012)
“The use of computers may allow scientists to better understand creative processes, but not always may allow artists to better understand science. The idealized joint science-artistic abstraction is a myth. Nevertheless, I believe in deterministic dreams and imaginary landscapes of rational thoughts.”
While living in Berlin, Sandoval met a number of computer-science specialists and began developing work incorporating the use of sensors. His third "manifesto", published in Germany in 2009 intejects cultural, artistic and political values to the pure act of sonification via the use of technology. His work incorporating living trees, accelerometers and hands equipped with tactile sensors is based on random-picking software, and adds a mystical quality to the otherwise objective process of transduction of physical phenomena.
“The first time I used the gloves (…) I was analyzing continuous information coming from each tactile sensor and realized that, despite being "free", I had a "style", my own syntax expressed in patterns (…). The same way, the trees as “free” entities generate patterns since they are systemic too. Pattern-recognition, artificial intelligence, cliches and prejudgements belong to the same order. To generate musical materials I prefer either random-picking or experience-based approaches instead of pattern recognition methodologies."
- "Sotavento", 2006, no duration. International network of sounding trees. Tree installation in Florence, Italy, Berlin, Germany and San Luis Potosí, Mexico. With the support of the TU electronic studio, Berlin, the GSLI in Florence and the Festival de San Luis in Mexico.
- "Baumberauschen", 2007, No duration. Three networked trees. Commissioned by the European Union's "Soziale Stadt" program, throughout the "Kunst : Identität" project.
- "The body", 2007 Gloves with sensors and a female body as a musical instrument, Ca 20:00"
- "Mosaicos” 1 and 2", 2008, Ca. 20:00" Chamber ensemble, any instruments and gloves with tactile sensors.
- "Die basta-Zeiten sind vorbei", 2008, Ca. 22:00" Chamber ensemble, any instruments and gloves with tactile sensors.
- "Baumberauschen 2", 2009, Sound installation. Trees with accelerometers.
- "Klangkaskaden", 2010, Sound installation. Trees with accelerometers.
- "8to-02", 2010–11, 6:22", String quartet, 2 trombones, 2 double basses.
- "The forest is above the man", in four independent parts: 2008-09 Part I: "The myth of Globalization", open duration. Fl, Ob, Cl, Bss, Trp 1 and 2, Sx ten, Sx Bar, Trb1 and 2, Piano and perc. Part II: "The myth of Alienation", open duration. Fl, Ob, Cl, Percussion, Piano, String quintet and piano.
- "The forest is above the man", in four independent parts: Part III: 2009-10 "The myth of lacking of time", open duration Fl, Cl, Ob, Bs, P, String quartet Percussions 1 and 2. Part IV: "The myth of relativity", open duration, string quartet.
- "The forest is above the man, Epilogue", 2012, 12:00", two tubas, two trombones and tape.
- "The Mexican Wave", 2012, 9:00", string quintet (from one to five musicians pro stave)and tape.
- "Lips" (Video, Color, HD, 13:57", edited and modified voice improvisations by Almut Khüne, Germany 2011).
- "Hidden 2" (Video, Color, HD, 4:57", featuring Charlote Grude, Germany 2011).
- "Ursula" (Video, Color & BW, HD, 30:00", Germany, 2010).
- "Hidden 1" (3:29", Color, Video HD, Mexico-Germany, 2010).
- "Doña Soco, her Mother and the chicken. Three non-fiction portraits" (16:05", Video, Color, Mexico-Germany, 2003–09).
- "Dream" (6:05", Video, Mexico-Germany, 2001–2009).
- "La Pasión según la gente" (18:05", video, Color, Mexico 2001-2003).
- "Mextoys 1" (5:00", video, Color, Mexico 2004).
- "Mextoys 2" (5:00", video, color, Mexico 2004).
- "O cigarro de Möbius", 2013, in The Marvellous Transatlantic, Ápice AP 002. Collaboration with the Mexican anti-ensamble Genración Espontánea. Mexico.
- "Petenera", 2011, in Pages acoustiques, Christelle Sery, Guitar. SACM, XTL001/1, France.
- "PfMd 01, por piano et band", 2009, in 17 Mars 2009, Théâtre d'Orléans, Concours International de piano d'Orleans. France
- "Liz-Mix" Electroacoustic piece, 2009, in Ready Media: hacia una arqueologia de los medios y la invencion en Mexico, Laboratorio de Arte Alameda, Mexico City,
- "Chillida", 2004, continuous loop, electroacoustic piece using a never-repeating simultaneous 2-CDs looping, in Danilo Veras, puntos Comas Acentos Palabras , DVD, Facultad de Arquitectura, Palmera Films, Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico
- "La Pasión Según la Gente", 2002, in La Pasión según la gente y otras obras, Quindecim, PACMyC, Sireña, monographic CD, Mexico
- "Homenaje", 2002, in De vez en vez, SACM, Quindecim, track 4, Mexico
- "Fast Piece", 1994, in Donaueschinger MusikTage 1994, Col Legno Produktion, WWE-3CD-31882, track 1, Germany.
- "Cien Años de Nancarrow" La Tempestad, Arts Magazine, Mexico City, December 2012.
- "Heimat? Identität?" Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, p.p. 40-45. The German translation of "Composición y Colonialismo hoy?". Germany 2009.
- "Composición y colonialismo hoy?" Pauta, Music Magazine, 2008.
- "Música electrónica en vivo: gesto, inexpresividad y cinismo en la música del siglo XXI" Pauta, 100, p.p. 37-47, 2006.
- "De la fenomenología al ejercicio estético, o una apología del cinismo" Artelugio 2002, versión revisada y publicada en Pauta, 2005.
- "Imaginación, análisis y posmodernismo" Artelugio 2002; (versión revisada, Pauta, 2005).
- "Suena el tambor, ladran los perros", in La pasión según la gente, booklet, 2001, Quindecim Recordings
- "Nancarrow, Samuel Conlon", Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoame-ricana, Madrid 2000.
- "Estrada, Julio", Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana, Madrid 2000.
- "Conlon + Tiempo = Nancarrow", Mexico City, Pauta, Music Magazine, 50-51, pp. 148–178. 1994.
- "Música Nueva en México", Cultural supplement "La Comunidad", 177, Newspaper La Opinión, Los Angeles, 1983.
- "La nueva Canción", Cultural supplement "La Comunidad", 152, Newspaper La Opinión, Los Angeles 1983.
- Carlos Sandoval 's personal website With catalog, activities, sound-examples and video.
- Nature, Art and Technology Music with trees and sensors
- Audio-portrait of Carlos Sandoval Produced by CastYourArt.com
- Carlos Sanoval's You Tube channel
- Carlos Sandoval's Nancarrow´s site Specific information on Nancarrow's studio, music library (databased) and other very specific issues regarding his work with Conlon Nancarrow.
- "(…)I was born in one of the poorest barrios in Mexico City and had an unstable primary education. Since there were six of us children and the resources were very limited, my parents decided to subscribe only one of us at a time, each year, to the first Freinet active-school in Mexico City, a very expensive one.(…) Growing up, I have always lived in between two extremes: the incredibly violent street life in the barrio and the most delicate family friends like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Leopoldo Méndez, Elena Huerta, Pablo O’higgins, Elizabeth Cattlet, Mariana Yampolsky and others. I cannot imagine this fact not having some kind of an influence, or a role later in my artistic life." Ituarte Maru, "Interview with Carlos Sandoval (In Spanish, German subtitles), HD Video, 2010, 24:15", http://vimeo.com/17957124
- Ibid., Ituarte, Maru, 2010
- Sandoval, Carlos: "Los Yuunohui: un acercamiento al continuo en la obra de Julio Estrada", 80pp, DGAPA/IIMAS/IIE, UNAM, 1992.
- Sandoval, Carlos: "Ginantria", in La Pasión según la gente, Quindecim, QDO 1153, PACMyC, Sireña, México.
- Sandoval, Carlos: "Homenaje", in De vez en Vez, Quindecim, SACM, 2002.
- Hocker, Jürgen, Begegnungen mit Conlon Nancarrow Schott Musik International, Mainz 2002. 294pp.
- Tosi, Michèle, "...une pièce mixte au titre très énigmatique – l’absence de notes de programme préserve tout le mystère ! - du compositeur mexicain présent dans la salle Carlos Sandoval Mendoza. PfMd-01 se nourrit des contrastes plus ou moins radicaux entre une partie de piano aux ambiances pastorales et légèrement «détempérées», diffusée en continu par les hauts parleurs, et les interventions du pianiste dont la brillance du jeu et la fulgurance du geste rehaussent l’intérêt d’une écriture parfois peu canalisée" in "Grands Prix « Piano d’Orléans » 2009" http://www.resmusica.com/2009/03/19/grands-prix-piano-dorleans/
- Woschnick, Thomas, "Carlos Sandoval: setting in Motion", interview in Cast your Art http://www.castyourart.com/en/2009/04/08/carlos-sandoval-setting-in-motion/
- Ibid, Ituarte, Maru.
- Kramer, Jonathan. 2002. "The Nature and Origins of Musical Postmodernism." In Postmodern Music/Postmodern Thought, edited by Judy Lochhead and Joseph Aunder, 13–26. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-8153-3820-1 Reprinted from Current Musicology no. 66 (Spring 1999): 7–20. "1. Is not simply a repudiation of modernism or its continuation, but has aspects of both a break and an extension 2. Is, on some level and in some way, ironic. 3. Does not respect boundaries between sonorities and procedures of the past and of the present 4. Challenges barriers between 'high' and 'low' styles. 5. Shows disdain for the often unquestioned value of structural unity. 6. Questions the mutual exclusivity of elitist and populist values. 7. Avoids totalizing forms (e.g., does not want entire pieces to be tonal or serial or cast in a prescribed formal mold). 8. Considers music not as autonomous but as relevant to cultural, social, and political contexts. 9. Includes quotations of or references to music of many traditions and cultures. 10. Considers technology not only as a way to preserve and transmit music but also as deeply implicated in the production and essence of music. 11. Embraces contradictions. 12. Distrusts binary oppositions. 13. Includes fragmentations and discontinuities. 14. Encompasses pluralism and eclecticism. 15. Presents multiple meanings and multiple temporalities. 16. Locates meaning and even structure in listeners, more than in scores, performances, or composers."
- Sandoval, Carlos, "Imaginación, Análisis y Posmodernismo" Artelugio Magazine, Querétaro City, 2002. Revised version: Pauta Magazine. Mexico City, 2005.
- Sandoval, Carlos, "De la fenomenología al ejercicio estético, o una apología del cinismo", Artelugio Magazine, Querétaro City, 2002. (Revised edition in Pauta Magazine, Mexico City, 2005). http://www.carlos-sandoval.de/pdf/La_catastrofe_web.pdf
- Sandoval. Carlos, "Fast Piece", in Donaueschinger Musik Tage 1994 CD 1, Track 01, Col Legno, WWE 3CD 31882.
- Sandoval, Carlos: "Pf-01", in La Pasión según la gente, Quindecim, QDO 1153, PACMyC, Sireña, México.
- Sandoval, Carlos: "Pf-02", in La Pasión según la gente, Quindecim, QDO 1153, PACMyC, Sireña, México.
- "La Pasión Según la Gente" SACM, Quindecim Recordings QD01153, PACMYC, Mexico, Sireña, Track 01.
- Rivero, Antonio, interview “Carlos Sandoval”, Part 1, Clon Magazine, “Arte y pensamiento contemporáneo series, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ8ZH4V3JkE
- Sandoval, Carlos, "Imaginacion, Análisis y Posmodernismo", Artelugio Magazine, Queretaro Citi, UAQ, 2002. Revised edition in Pauta Magazine, Mexico City, 2005)
- Ibid., del Rivero, Antonio, interview 2008.
- Sandoval, Carlos, "Heimat, Identität?", Neue zeitschrift für Musik, 1-2009, p. 40-45. Germany
- Ibid., Woschnik, Thomas, 2009.