It was primarily from the 1970s onwards that the dividing line between experimental music and sound art was drawn. The then still-new form of artistic expression evolved within a field defined somewhere between music and the visual arts, between performance art and art object, proposing taking sound—or silence—from sheet music to electrical circuits, spaces, the human body and even plants. Rio-based sound artist Negalê Jones, who has been building a universe based on sounds he extracts from the botanical world, speaks to C&A América Latina about his career.
Saxophone and percussion
The path that led to my research with sound art and plants began with saxophone lessons and the neighborhood where I grew up: Horto, in Rio de Janeiro, surrounded by the Tijuca rainforest. In 1990, at the age of 18, I was awarded a scholarship to study music in England. Despite having all the documents from the school, I was barred by immigration in London. I had to go back home, but my return flight made a stopover in Canada, and I wound up spending ten days in Toronto. While I was there, I realized that everything they admired so much about Brazilian music was already part of my repertoire of sounds. On my return, with the trauma of not being able to study saxophone, I decided to dedicate myself to percussion. In 1996, I began playing with the group Os Afronautas, which was very successful in mixing electronic music with percussion. That was when I first had the realization that you could explore sounds that shouldn’t be present in certain objects. This is one of the foundations of sound art.