Songs of Spam

Année de composition
15 minutes
6 singers and instrumental ensemble [7 musicians]

Songs of Spam is inspired by texts from my spam. These unwanted messages, often rude, make use of the most aggressive marketing techniques (lying, manipulation, threats), making it clearer than other ads that advertising is a control mechanism. Having discovered in the course of writing that what interested me was the mode of speech and not the origin of the words, I diversified the sources: if the first text is indeed a spam message, the others come from Youtube, a church in Sicily and a teleshopping site.

For the first play, I chose a classic scam, known as fraud 4.1.9 or Nigerian Prince: an alleged Nigerian prince needs an intermediary to get a large amount of money out of his country; if we give him our bank details, he uses them to steal from us (the version I chose takes a science-fiction twist, with an astronaut prince stuck in space). I’ve learned that these scams (which mostly work in rich countries) are often organized by Nigerian academics who need money to pay for their studies, giving this crime an unexpected side of social justice.

The second piece has little text. It is built on the expression billions and billions, which Donald Trump constantly uses in an exaggerated way; I was struck by a video where these repeated words roll around in his mouth with obscene pleasure. Like spam, these words carry an insistent message: I know how to handle money because I’m rich. In reality, Trump’s business tends to go bankrupt, but he knows very well that appearances matter more than the truth. With these words, I have built a short fatal march: that of the ecological crisis we are experiencing.

The case of La madonnina piange is less obvious: it is the story of a miracle in the city of Siracusa, Sicily: it tells of the virgin crying human tears. Although this little fantasy story seems to have nothing to do with spam, it is through the abundance of seemingly harmless little gestures that the Catholic Church has deployed a strategy aimed at the mental (through confession) and economic (the denarius) control of its faithful – and even, through its press, its banks and its lobbies, of the rest of society.

The latest text is the tele-shopping ad for a penis extender. I chose to talk about a nose extender instead, to show how useless it can be to change a part of one’s body to become happier. Advertisements often attack our bodies, because by destroying our confidence they make us more vulnerable to consumption. Thinking about it, talking about it or writing about it, seem to me to be necessary acts of resistance.

Mikel Urquiza


I] Dear Mister Sir
Dear Mister Sir,
I am Doctor Tunde, brother of the world-famous Nigerian astronaut, Prince Major
Tunde (the first African in space). He was stranded in the Soviet space station Salyut-8T in 1999. He’s in good mood but wants to come home. In fifteen years he has accumulated fifteen million dollars. We need your help to access his account and bring him back. In reward for your help we can offer you ten percent of this sum. This request is strictly confidential.


III] La madonnina piange
Il 29 agosto del 1993 in via di San Giorgio, città di Siracusa, la madonnina piange. L’evento straordinario accade nuovamente, la madonnina piange (no al primo di settembre. In un prezioso reliquario si conservano queste lacrime che analizzate da scienziati risultarono lacrime umane. Maria piange le nostre (stesse) lacrime, e poi da quel momento si fanno illimitati miracoli e misteri, cure, guarigioni nello spirito.
Maria, prega per i figli tuoi.


IV] Size matters
Life changes, habits change, taste changes, things that matter change. But size will always matter. Introducing X-tender the most wonderful method for enlargement of your nose. Enlargement, yes, because not only it makes it longer, but also, thicker. Larger, longer, thicker. Forget about doubtful treatments or miracle medicine. You will be convinced that X-tender is all you need. Size matters !

Création mondiale
February 9th, 2020 at the Festival Eclat in Stuttgart, Germany

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