Charles Stankievech . Una Nota Sola (for Scelsi)

A-side. Documentation of the performance in the historic insane asylum of Venice: the island of San Servolo (piano)
B-side. Locked Groove of Silence

Edition of 88 grey vinyl records.
Covers Hand Silk Screened by Ryan Statz with Papercut by Charles Stankievech

First 8 in the edition come with an industrial felt slipmat.


"The idea of multiples is the distribution of ideas" -Joseph Beuys

Available in Montreal at Galerie Donald Browne or via post here.


Text Printed on the Back of the Cover:

Recorded on location in the 13th century church of the closed
insane aslyum on the island of San Servolo, Venice, Italy.
October 4th, 2006.

Edition of 88 Grey Vinyl Records

Sound is round, but when we hear it, it seems to have only two dimensions: pitch and duration.
The third dimension, depth, is there, but escapes us. The upper and lower (less
audible) harmonics sometimes give us the impression of a vaster more complex sound beyond
duration and pitch, but it is difficult for us to perceive its complexity...In painting, there is of
course perspective...[but] despite all the experiments with stereophony and so forth...we have
not yet succeeded in creating an impression of sound’s real spherical dimension.
                                  Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988)


After studying atonality under Schoenberg’s student Walter Klein, Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi suffered from a severe psychological crisis. The reason for Scelsi’s illness is unclear, but we know he spent some duration in a psychiatric hospital undergoing chromotherapy. Accounts of this period find many renditions, taking on a somewhat mythological air. However, in all the various anecdotes one event always surfaces: Scelsi sitting at the piano for hours a day striking a solo note, intensively listening to the sound decay. In this repetitive gesture, the resulting resonance, harmonics and microtonal
fluxes imploded the single note and timbre became a primary compositional element for the first time in the Western tradition. The effects of this radical paradigm shift resonate more and more as time unfolds.

From 1725 to 1978, the small island of San Servolo housed the infamous mental asylum of Venice. One of the most famous madhouses in the world, the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the asylum in his poem “Julian and Maddalo.” Spiraling around the island of San Servolo for the entire poem, the conversing duo of Julian and Maddalo (pseudonyms for Shelley and Byron) eventually “Sailed to the island where the madhouse stands/ …climbed the oozy stairs/ Into an old courtyard” where they “heard on high/Then, fragments of most touching melody.” Amidst the “Moans, shrieks, and curses, and blaspheming prayers” their dark journey eventually lead them to a

…Poor wretch …sitting mournfully
Near a piano, his pale fingers twined
One with the other, and the ooze and wind
Rushed through an open casement

During the summer of 2006, I was invited by the province of Venice, Italy for a residency to create a site-specific work exhibited concurrently with the 10th Biennale for Architecture. The residency took place on the island of San Servolo, and it was here that I found a derelict grand piano once used for music therapy in the asylum on the island. Thus for an 11 hour recording session, I reenacted Scelsi’s timbral meditations, pounding away at a single note within the closed remains of the island’s 13th century church. This record is an excerpt from the last hour of the performance.