Paulo Chagas

Paulo Chagas

Ph.D., 2003, University of Liège, Belgium

Phone: (951) 827-2939
Office: ARTS 138


Paulo C. Chagas is a Brazilian composer, active in Europe, Brazil and the USA. He studied composition at the University of São Paulo (1973–9), earning a bachelor’s degree. He then studied composition, orchestration and analysis at the Liège Conservatoire (1980–2), and electronic music composition at the Academy of Music in Cologne (1982–9). From 1990 to 1999 he served as musical adviser and composer-in-residence at the electronic music studio of the WDR in Cologne; 1992–7 as researcher and composer-in-residence at the Research Centre of Computer Media in Bonn; and 1996–2004 as member of the board of directors and composer-in-residence at the Wallonie Center for Musical Research and Education in Liège. From 1991 to 1993 he was a visiting lecturer in electronic music at the University of Liège; 1995–6 in composition and contemporary chamber music at the Liège Conservatoire; and 2003–04 in aesthetics and analysis of electroacoustic music Robert Schumann Music Academy in Düsseldorf. Since 2004 he is Professor of Composition at the University of California, Riverside.

His works have resulted from numerous commissions and fellowships from 1977 to the present and have been performed in Russia, Germany, Belgium, France, South Korea, the USA, and Latin America to public and critical acclaim. At the ’sonidos de las Américas’ festival of the American Composers’ Orchestra (1996), his orchestral work Eshu: the Gates of Hell was performed at Carnegie Hall. His techno opera RAW was staged at the Opera Bonn (1999). Paulo C. Chagas has collaborated with many international choreographers, visual artists and distinguished performers in works for chamber operas, digital oratorio, choreographic theater, installations audiovisual and multimedia works. Paulo C. Chas is also a prolific author; he writes in many languages (English, German, French and Portuguese) and has published in international journals and books, reflecting on issues such as musical semiotics, philosophy and phenomenology of music, electroacoustic music and digital media.

Prof. Chagas has stated that his music seeks new forms of expression by establishing love relationships to many musical traditions, both classical and popular. His compositions make extensive use of technology and emphasize the symbolic, ritualistic dimension of the musical performance. The creative manipulation of digital sound and the integration of music into multimedia and interdisciplinary forms mark his works profoundly. He believes ‘we are at the beginning of a major shift in the way we create and experience music and art. New fields of creativity are emerging through the convergence of sound, image, and body and the development of new architectures of collaboration.

Orchestra and Large Ensemble

La Passion selon Guignol   (The Passion according to Punch)   1982   25’
for amplified vocal quartet (SATB) and orchestra (in collaboration with Henri Pousseur)
commissioned by Electric Phoenix, London, UK

Eshu: la porte des enfers   (Eshu: the gates of hell)   1983   21’
for afro-Brazilian traditional percussion ensemble, orchestra and electronic sounds
commissioned by the “Jeunesses Musicales de Liège”, Belgium 

Migration   1995-97   26’
for MIDI piano, large ensemble and live electronics
commissioned by WDR (West German Broadcasting Company), Cologne, Germany 

Elegba   2001   20’
for percussion solo and symphonic band
commissioned by the “São Paulo State Symphonic Band”, São Paulo, Brazil

Radiance   2004   14’
for orchestra
commissioned by the “São Paulo State Symphonic Orchestra”, São Paulo, Brazil

Sinfonia de Câmara Brasileira   (Brazilian Chamber Symphony)   2009   25’
for wind orchestra
commissioned by the “São Paulo Symphonic Band”, São Paulo, Brazil


Stage Works

Peep Show   1985-87   80’
music theater
premiered at the Festival ISCM in Cologne, Germany

Oddort   1989   41’
chamber opera
premiered at the Festival d’Avignon, France, 1989

Sodoma   1991   75’
for vocal quintet (SSATB), 16 strings, 3 percussion players and electronic sounds
commissioned by the Theater Atelier Saint Brussels, Belgium

Francis Bacon   1993   80’
for soprano, countertenor, baritone, string quartet, percussion and electronic sounds
commissioned by the Theater Theaterhaus, Stuttgart, Germany, 1993

Der Fluss   (The River)   1994   75’
chamber opera
commissioned by the Stuttgart Academy of Music and the “Latin American Media Society”, Stuttgart, Germany

RAW   1999   75’
techno opera
commissioned by the Opera Bonn, Germany, 1999

eros-ion!   2006-07   85’
premiered at the Festival Música Nova, São Paulo, 2006

Corpo, Carne e Espírito  (Body, Flesh and Spirit)   2008   75’
digital oratorio (in collaboration with Johannes Birringer)
commissioned by the 9th International Theater Festival Stage & Street (FIT), Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2008


Chamber Music

Rumores I   1992   10’
for 2 percussion players

Rumores II   1993   12’
for 2 percussion players

Bonfim   1994   8’
for 2 percussion players and electronic sounds
Award: IAMIC Annual List 2001

Un invisible laberinto de tiempo   (An invisible time labyrinth)   1996   12’
for chamber ensemble (8 players)
commissioned by Ensemble Champ d’Action and Festival Ars Musica. Belgium

Festa do Bonfim   (The Feast of Bonfim)   1997   18’
for 3 percussion players and electronic sounds

Ave Maria   2001   38’
motet for 3 female voices (SSA), live electronics and surround (5.1) sound space
commissioned by the Festival “Romanischer Sommer”, Cologne, Germany

Rumores III   1998/2003   12’
for 2 percussion players

Circular Roots   2003   14’
for violin, electronic sounds video and interactive image processing
commissioned by the CRFMW (Centre de Recherches et Formation Musicales de Wallonie), Liège, Belgium

Dreaming the Unknown   2006   15’
for flute, clarinet, violin and cello

Orbital Studies   2008   45’
5 etudes for piano (also for piano and live-electronics)
commissioned by the Festival Musica Nova, São Paulo, Brazil,

Canções dos Olhos   (Songs of Eyes)   2005-2009   20”
five songs for soprano, cello and piano

Canção da Areia   (Song of Sand)   2009-11   14’
for soprano, clarinet and piano

Canções da Memória   (Songs of Memory)   2009-11   26’
for soprano and piano

Figures of the Body   2010   15’
for piano and live-electronics

No Meio do Caminho   (In the Middle of the Road)   2011   15’
for solo percussion

Awake   2013   17’
for soprano and percussion


Electronic Music and Multimedia

Ellipse   1986   14’10”
electronic music

The Journey   1995   9’30”
music video
Award: “The 50 Best” International Video Art Prize SWF/ZKM 1997

Migration   1997   24’20“
12 channel electronic music

Projektion  2000  17’28“
12 channel electronic music

Streaming   2001   21’
electronic music and laser installation

Zeit-Wände VII   (Time Walls VII)   2003   8’45”
music and video installation

Circular Roots   2004   14’
music video

Canções dos Olhos (Augenlieder)   (Songs of Eyes)   2005   29’:50”
music video

Temporal Properties of the World Part 1   2010   22’
music for film


Luciano Gallet via Mário de Andrade (Rio de Janeiro, 1979)

Digital Composition: Von der Klangregie elektronischer Musik zur intermedialen Ästhetik bei Paulo C. Chagas (with H. U. Werner) (Siegen, 2012)



‘A Invenção do Jogo: ‘Santos Football Music’ de Gilberto Mendes.” Revista Música. Vol 3.1, 70-81.

‘Spiel und Dialog: das Komponieren mit Apparaten’, Elektroakustische Musik. Handbuch der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, v, ed. E. Ungeheuer (Laaber, 2002), 182–96

‘Information and Polyphony: Spectral and temporal transformation in the motets of Josquin des Prez’, Musical Semiotics Revisited: Approaches to Musical Semiotics 4, ed. E. Tarasti (Helsinki, 2003), 411–21

‘Virtualität und Metadesign: Die Klangkunst im Zeitalter ihrer Vernetzbarkeit’, VirtuReal Soundscapes, i: Variationen auf Virtual Audio, ed. G. Schmedes and H.U. Werner (Siegen, 2003), 84–114

‘Polyphony and Embodiment: A Critical Approach of the Theory of Autopoiesis’, Trans – Revista Transcultural de Musica, ix (2005)

‘Game and Dialogue: Composing with Machinery’, Music and the Arts: Approaches to Musical Semiotics 10, ed. E. Tarasti (Helsinki, 2006), 157–70

‘The Blindness Paradigm: the Invisibility and Visibility of the Body’, CMR, xxv/1–2 (2006), 119–30

‘Virtuality and Metadesign: Sound Art in the Age of Connectivity’, Music, Meaning, and Media. Acta Semiotica Fennica XXV (Approaches to Musical Semiotics 11), ed. E. Pekkilä and others (Helsinki, 2006), 137–53

‘Polyphony and Technology in Interdisciplinary Composition’, 11th Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music (São Paulo, 2007), 47–58

‘Composition in Circular Sound Space: Migration 12-channel electronic music (1995–97)’, Organised Sound, xiii/3 (2008), 189–198

‘A Música de Câmara Telemática: A Metáfora de Flusser e o Universo da Música Eletroacústica’, Revista Ghrebh, xi (2008)

‘Linguagem e formas de vida: Wittgenstein e a compreensão musical’, Anais dos Encontros de Musicologia de Ribeirão Preto. 2003 – Linguagem & Linguagens. 2005 – Interfaces luso-afro-brasileiras’, ed. M.C. de Castro and R.R. Ricciardi (Ribeirão Preto, 2009), 116–26

‘Pulsierende Knoten: Vom Studio für Elektronische Musik zu neuen Modellen musikalischer Kreativität.’, Medien. Kreativität. Interdisziplinarität. Massenmedien und Kommunikation 176/177, H.U. Werner and R. Lankau (Siegen, 2009), 53–10

‘Spectral Semiotics: Sound as Enacted Experience. A Phenomenological Approach to Temporality in Sound and Music’, Before and after Music: Proceedings from the 10th International Congress of the International Project on Musical Signification. Acta Semiotica Fennica XXXVII, ed. L. Navickaite-Martinelli (Vilnius, 2010), 117–26

‘Gilberto e Willy: Ética e Estética’, O Brasil dos Gilbertso. Notas sobre o pensamento (musical) brasileiro’, ed. H. Valente and R. Santhiago. (São Paulo 2011), 129-143

‘Sound, Temporality, and Affect in Chopin: Analyzing Nocturne Op. 27 No. 1 Through Spectral Semiotics’, Music: Function and Value. Proceedings from the 11th International Congress on Musical Signification, ed. T. Malecka and M. Pawlowska. (Krakow 2013), 268-280

‘Musical Imagination: Sound and Image in Telematic Dialogue’, Art Review 24 (2013)



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