Writings about Music

Like So Many Birds In A Forest

Salvatore Martirano

The Sal-Mar Construction, a musical synthesis instrument invented by composer Salvatore Martirano, deserves a room in such a museum, partly because it really needs to be experienced in-person, the inherent limitations of the medium of recordings not coming close to doing justice in this instance.

My recollection is that the Sal-Mar Construction had dozens of small speakers spread across the ceiling of the space or room, magically emitting sound like so many birds in a forest, and the audio quality itself was pristine, illuminating beautiful and powerful potentialities of new musical instruments, including anticipating the computer, a tool like the clarinet or organ, every musical instrument possessing its own virtues and limitations.

I will always be indebted to composer Marshall Bialosky for arranging a meeting between myself and Martirano at CalArts where he listened to music from my Fire Monkey and Robinson Gardens albums. Sal enthused about my music, not having heard anything quite like it before: "Whatever you're doing keep it up!" He also offered some important tips about levels with digital recordings, the two of us listening to a DAT tape of my recordings at the time.

Marshall told me how Sal had at one time driven all the way from Illinois to California, transporting the Sal-Mar Construction himself in order to give a presentation. That type of extreme physical effort recalls how Conlon Nancarrow, a precursor of computer music, would create his own piano rolls to realize his compositions!

Together with Sal and other composers, I would encourage MOMEM to include a room for my Meruvina incarnations, affording visitors and scholars the full experience of a unique musical manifestation.

- Michael Robinson, December 2021, Los Angeles


© 2021 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and musicologist. His 162 albums include 149 albums for meruvina and 13 albums of piano improvisations. He has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University.