Today we concluded Part I of the three part educational project “Irritationen” in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland. We started on October 14th when I introduced Max Neuhaus’ “Listen” (see here and here), and over the course of six Mondays, approximately 60 pupils were treated to an introduction to experimental music and sound art. The project featured three guests and included a trip to a professional recording studio. Pupils interacted with live electronic setups, iPad music apps, turntables, stethoscopes and various sound installations. They got to hear and discuss many pieces of music and learned about listening, hearing, notation, sound technology and much more. Today we ended where we began, in a way, but we returned there with an expanded sense hearing: we performed our own impermanent adaptations of Akio Suzuki’s Otodate (“listening point”).
The project will continue in January 2014, when six musicians and sound artists will create projects with the pupils over an extended period of time.
I have a new album, Kola, out today as a download release on Unsung Records! It features seven percussion heavy tracks that I composed and recorded over the course of three evenings in August (discussed in this blog entry). Mixed by Markus Reuter in September and mastered by Lee Fletcher just last week. Artwork by Ritxi Ostáriz (see here for more Kola-related art by Ritxi).
You can listen and purchase it here - for the price of two cups of coffee (or more, if you like).
I’ve been invited to join the audiovisual performance project pulp.noir for their next production “signal to noise”. Individual video shoots for on stage projection have begun last week, and this week we’ve had four days of tryout rehearsals with the full team - a great group of people. I now have a clearer idea of what my role in the project will be and how I need to set up for that. Rehearsals will continue in mid November.
From left to right (click image to enlarge): Thomas Winkler, Thomas Fischer, Julia Morf, Joana Aderi, Christian Rösli, Ralph Tristan Engelmann and Marius Peyer.
Confirmed shows so far:
17.01.2014 Fabriktheater, Zürich
18.01.2014 Fabriktheater, Zürich
21.01.2014 Fabriktheater, Zürich
23.01.2014 Fabriktheater, Zürich
24.01.2014 Fabriktheater, Zürich
25.01.2014 Fabriktheater, Zürich
25.02.2014 EWZ, Tanzstudio Rote Fabrik, Zürich
09.04.2014 Tojo, Bern
11.04.2014 Tojo, Bern
12.04.2014 Tojo, Bern
“Listen" stamp especially created by Samira for my sound walks with three classes of 7th to 9th grade pupils next Monday - the beginning of "Irritationen" ("irritations"), a new educational project in Münchenbuchsee that I’m co-heading together with teacher and musicologist Christine Grossenbacher. A group of professional sound artists will be working with the pupils to learn about hearing, sound and technology, and then create sound art works over the course of the school year.
Some photographs of last month’s Sound Shuttle event in Bern, organized by IGNM Bern in collaboration with with Musikfestival Bern
Musikfestival Bern, Freitag 6. September, Soundshuttle IGNM
yamaha disklavier and physical modelling synthesis
(work in progress, excerpt from cell phone video, september 14, 2013)
If this sounds cranky, so be it, but know that I’m actually sitting at my work table with a steaming cup of green tea and I’m quite happy. It is, however, time to dare something and write a personal post. It’s not directed at a specific reader - I have told those who need to know in person. Just a few thoughts on working together as artists and humans.
I’ve been working and typing away since 6.30am. The day is fully planned out, as are most other days at the moment, and yet I find myself having to keep explaining why I can’t make more time all the time.
I have defined my work, I have even mostly sought it out myself, and I am trying my best to discharge it at my standards. A big part of what I am currently doing supports the work of others - friends and/or artists. Either because I love them, or their work, or because only I can do it or am in a position to do it, or all of it. I am punctual, dependable, I honor my commitments. Working long hours is the norm and something I have never even thought about, and money is never a concern if I can somehow make enough to pay my bills - which is not much. People “with jobs” are regularly shocked if they get an idea of how little I make, despite working all the time. I live in one of the (if not THE) cheapest cities in the country, I don’t get to make holidays abroad, I don’t own a car, I am a vegetarian and I rarely eat out in this very expensive country. And frankly, I don’t need any of it if it means I get to do the things I love.
I show an interest in people’s lives and work because that’s just how I am. So if I ask you how you are on a chance encounter, that’s not a distracted mumbled greeting. I am prepared for that monolog of an answer so long and intense that I never get asked a question in return. That’s OK. And I feel you: you’re following your passion and it’s the most important thing in the world. But you know, you and I are artist-entrepreneurs by our own choices, even if it’s your vocation as undeniably as it is mine. We all have too little time, support, understanding from others, not enough sleep, not enough money. Just know that I am doing the most important work in the world as well.
So if you find that you are ready to pick up the phone/mail/skype/facebook time and again whenever you want something from me, at a time of your choice and not mine, know that I am very busy, and a lot of people and things I hold dear are there to give them my full attention. So if I pick up the phone and give it to you instead, let’s share a little warmth and show some actual interest in each other, and have a real human exchange. Let’s think about how we can support each other, not just about what we can get from the other. It’s worth it. You’re are always welcome to get in touch with me in that true sense of the phrase.
[Note: This post was originally posted on Facebook here.]
Composing music with algorithms can sometimes result in a lot of music happening in a very short time. You may have spent ages programming a system for a certain purpose, but then you just quickly change a few parameters, assignments and sound sources and it may take you into completely unknown and fascinating musical territory at a speed which you can barely follow.
When this occasionally happens to me, as it did over the past few days, it almost feels like I’m getting ahead of myself: More music happens than I can process and then I need time to actually listen to the recordings and try to understand what they are - especially so in a time like now when I have been much preoccupied with the sometimes absurd reality of living a freelance life.
Below you find a couple of screenshots from recent composition sessions: They all show the MIDI data that was generated and recorded in real time using one of my algorithms, and split up into five channels, each triggering different synthetic percussion sounds. I love how alien they sound to me and will investigate further before I post excerpts, and hope to properly release them at a later point. [EDIT Nov 12, 2013: These tracks have now been released on the album “Kola”.]
"In strange and uncertain times, such as those we are living in, sometimes a reasonable person might despair. But Hope is unreasonable and Love is greater even than this.
May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the Creative Impulse.” - Robert Fripp
August 20, 2013
August 21, 2013, #2
August 21, 2013 - #5
August 21, 2013 - #5 (detail)
August 22, 2013