My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.



Ancient Cathedral Temple Centre

I am in a huge and expansive arts centre/cinema/cathedral, in ancient Monfalcone. It's Monfalcone so it must be the Valentinis disco, where all my school friends used to go when I was 16. and although we were in the same school it was unreachable, a world apart. But it's more than that. Other unreachable things are all around.

We have come as buddhists or students to do a course and are here for a while in accomodation on the centre's grounds. I can't remember if it's with Soka Gakkai or as students of the UWC that we are here, but the accomodation is simple and functional, but I can tell that we are in a cheaper more day to day part of what houses much more valuable people than us. We are all teenagers and young adults.

The course has now come to an end. I remember the rooms and the shared bathrooms, all very clean and well kept. I look out the window down the huge stone block walls worthy of an Inca city or Egyptian pyramid, and far down below I see some limousines taking some important guests away after their own stay here. Their design is fascinating, even after the dream is over, posh leather padded, 1940s style limousines - very original in their design. Like what would take a film star around in Terry Gilliam's Brazil. I vaguely remember a large cinema hall, and a departure ceremony once our course is ended and we have all passed and completed and feel very good about it all. Now we have free time, and tomorrow morning we leave.

My mum and dad are at the ceremony. Of course, as teachers there. We ate together at the dinner. Another student was here with her child, and is worrying about who will babysit, and I offer to get in touch with her later and go and switch and take care of her toddler son later after having been out for a bit. We exchange mobile phone numbers, or did she have it already?

Then I go out, and step out of the centre/temple to a huge flight of stairs leading down the pyramid to the ground far below. A storm brews further along, and a river cuts across a short way from the pyramid's side. Somewhere around here must be my "friends". Just like when I was a teenager, I can't actually find these "friends". They are in the next disco - "the Mantovani", which must lie across that river. I make my way down among small openings in the pyramid face with dramatic fires, the whole scene and valley below like from a Mummy epic. Other people from the course discernible in the distance, making their way down. A blonde northern or eastern european guy is one of these, and we get chatting about the course, and he is able to climb huge rocks, jumping down with great flexibility but I make my way around.

We run into a cross between an old friend from Glasgow or the UWC and that woman from the mummy returns. At times we are one person, and at times I am separate, looking on. I say - the rains are coming, from there - and point over the river, but she gets us going through a path she knows, and gets us through a tunnel to a fork in the river's path. We lie at the edge of the tunnel opening, side by side. She is telling me about a 1950s housing developer when the alarm goes.

I bumped into Jim Cowan by accident when I was in london last, and I told him I wanted to switch careers and do something in the field of creative arts. I want to devote myself to work as an artist, working as an arts director or be an arts coordinator for a vibrant arts centre. I also don't want to give up IT work and research. It's jungian to think that the centre/temple is a part of me - it's there inside, but I don't think I'm worthy to live in it and access all it's areas.

Jim answered "Don't limit yourself to what you think people will want and what you think will make money - go for exactly what you want to do". I have to keep that at the top of my list.


As I write I'm compressing a file from a tabla practice. I am a student of a student of Pandit Shankar Ghosh. My guruji/master's name is Tapanji.

I once told him I was a buddhist, and he told me this story in great detail about the way he would walk past a beautiful buddhist temple in his youth. And now you can't even see the temple for all the other buildings that now fill the land. And his mother used to use flowers, like the ones he pointed out to me in his garden - big bright yellow flowers - when he would hurt himself as a child. Homeopathic remedies.

And the tabla classes. Always told with such feeling - his tabla master's strict classes where he wouldn't let you leave when your lesson finished, and you had to assist other student's lessons, or where he would say "put on that record" and they would listen to something - I think quite varied stuff, not just indian music. He told me of not being able to write it down, scolding me almost, for taking a minidisc recorder to tape a lesson one day. Of the journey home from the classes, trying to count the lesson out with a class mate going "Dha ti Dha dha te te - no how is it? Dha ti dha dha terekete" etc and trying to put together the class in their heads. And the bus would come by and they'd be like "Never mind the bus" and go on with trying to remember the lesson, pausing only for tea at a little kiosk.

Learning tabla in Bristol seems to me like a triumph of multicultural britain - a refugee from Chile in the inner city able to learn about what most people have to travel around asia to get. I feel a big pull to use this instrument with my own traditional music, although a lot of Chilean stuff is for parties and nowhere near as complex. I've figured out a cueca beat though - not because of the dance but because most chilean music has that beat in it or was born from variations on it. I walk to my lessons for just 10 minutes a time along the path from my house past the chocolate factory and around the back of greenbank's old bank - rose green - a large sloping green space un-noticed by the armies of dog walkers and property developers, until maybe one day the river Frome finally overruns it's borders and comes through Easton and Bristol again. I hope not, unless canal based transport was the reason. Under that green I'm told there were workhouses belonging to said chocolate factory (it even had it's own schools!) - and people are surely buried along that path, but mostly they are in the greenbank cemetery, a reminder of death that accompanies each lesson. It's also well dodgy round that path.

The counting stuff is also brilliant - it gives me a new way to quickly write down beats - a shorthand for rhythm that anyone can use alongside chord names and descriptions, without having to take it to the musical heights that a zakir hussein would sing to a tanmoy bose. It can be recited and repeated almost instantly by a trained performer - this makes it a treat to use in the kind of improvisation I do.

Incidentally, Tapanji says Tanmoy is also a student of Pandit Shankar Ghosh, but a baby compared to him, only ten years younger than their master. He was only referring to age though, not performing talent! This makes him my guruji uncle? Great that you can trace that lineage back with this kind of music. With guitar so much is so shit because we don't share things one to one - people think the wierdest things about what playing guitar is about and how to do it. Buddhism also has this link - it should be transmitted on a person to person basis, although what that basis is should be left to the judgement and culture of the people involved - and nowadays healthily includes the telephone and tentative recordings with lots of personal padding - in both cases. Tapanji is quite strict when it comes to putting music online or sharing any of what he teaches, for this precise reason. It's all in all a practice that teaches respect: normally I'd be all against any claim that music should be kept locked away. It's that it's totally not about any money or keeping the content profitable. I would argue that the creative commons and similar initiatives need to take this reason into account when drafting legal copyright documents or teaching people the merits of sharing.

I don't really know where the indian music connection will take me, but it seems an obvious step after doing stuff like the wildstrings, and it's really helpful in jam situations where everyone and their dog plays guitar and sings, to have an instrument not many people use but that fits in well with soloists. I'd love to be able to sing raga as well, but before that, it's the guitar I want to go back and repolish. All as finances and time allow for more classes. The slow but constant musical growth I also have picked up and love, from Bristol's musicians.

The problem with tabla is that around the time I started learning I also started to suffer from RSI - although I've long hoped it was more to do with work, or with the fact that most of what I do employs the tips of my fingers in hard hitting jabs, and sitting in the same place for a long time. Now I think it might be more like carpal tunnel syndrome which looks slightly less worrying for the moment. I really hope it's not related.

One day Tapanji went to bollywood and went in with his tabla to a studio. They showed a screen with a clip of a person coming down some huge stairs in a temple. He didn't know what to expect, but they just told him to play whatever came to mind to go with the scene. He did, and he was off. He's probably done the music for countless films like this. Kind of what we try and do and I try and do such a construed manner with the orchestra cube. I hope to learn some day something about improvising like that from him. He already
helped me when I had to play a gig with a kora player - teaching me a rhythm in 14 beats that he thought would go well with the traditional rhythms of Senegal. But that's another of the beauties of this multicultural oasis of Greenbank...


A huge storm chased me down park row, past the violin shops and the hospital, into the Cube Cinema yesterday Wednesday 31st for our first Cube Orchestra rehearsal after the Here Shop Gig.

Present were Belinda, Tomoko, Gareth and myself. We took our time in setting up amplifiers, and finding some old drums for Tomoko to play, while we chatted. After some chat about what went wrong on Saturday, Belinda wrote down a list of points which I hope she'll send to the list - quite openly worded and focusing on the percieved problem rather than the percieved solution. I hope we can use all the problems constructively to refine our guidelines for new people and for participating and in preparation for concerts.

Then it was time to play. One of the comments from before was "lack of conductor" or "limited ways of communicating during performance". Belinda suggested a great exercise where you appoint an "invisible conductor", disguised as one of the musicians and then everyone follows what they do - so their music becomes the conducting for that time. The best bit was when Tomoko conducted by playing drums and egg shakers - with Guitar and Wind instruments maybe we're accustomed to what to do with certain types of sounds - like to a jazz chord we might tend to solo and vice versa... With Tomoko's abstract noises, disassociated from her musical ability. we were much more free to react in creative ways to her noises.

Then we got out the Brazil DVD that I'd brought, and we discussed how we can organise the rescoring for the end of this month, so that it's not a big boring 2 hours. We put on the first dream sequence, when Sam Lowrie flies through the air and gets attacked by astroturf skyscrapers.
We quickly found out a couple of issues:

  • With 4 people it was really easy to concentrate on the film and at the same time follow everyone else
  • Some dialogue sections were a bit hard to do (not much happens... People might want to concentrate on following the subtitles)
  • We got bored after about 10 minutes or less and lost inspiration.
  • For me and Gareth who knew the film better, it was easier to do incidental music.

So the result could be that for the rescoring we

  • Divide ourselves up into small groups of up to 8 people for each scene or DVD section.
  • Appoint someone who knows the scene to do the incidental music if needed. Maybe someone else can play the general feel of that scene.
  • Get someone to present each section. The cube are fine for us to do bits of different films, rather than just one film from beginning to end.

Also we'll need to have someone in the projection room and give them an exact list of sections we'll do from what film and in what order.

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