100 Days of Something: 59

I attended an unusual concert this afternoon: children playing the avant-garde. Compositions by no less than Simon Steen-Andersen and Henning Christiansen, a text score by Carl Bergstrøm, and a large work specially composed for the Suzuki Institute by Peter Due. Rather than having the “see what the children can do” aspect in the foreground, I found myself caught up in experiencing the music.

Earlier in the day I happened to listen to a podcast with Steven Pinker – the cognitive psychologist well known for his theories on language. He had some thoughts on children being able to master a greater complexity of language than hitherto thought possible – and how this plays itself out in children’s books, for example.

100 Days of Something: 58

Some follow-up on yesterday’s post: Taking a listen to Celeste Oram’s Make it New report on Darmstadt 2014 again, here are the bits I was thinking of:

Celeste describes, at around 19′28″, the young ensembles as a “triple threat”:

Superb performers, with ambitious concepts for new models of musical performance, and their own stable of local composers whose work they champion.

Festival director Thomas Schäfer recognises this:

They are very flexible. They have very good ideas. Their structure is very anti-hierarchical. They are working in another way than ensembles 20–30 years ago.

He also recognises the need for a platform on which this “vivid ensemble scene” can present their art.

Later, at around 70′55″, he asks:

How can we work with the past? If we have a look at the young ensembles’ repertoires we will barely find any music that is older than 10 years, 10–15 years, so this is really something that we need contact to the important repertoire of former times, and try to bring it into a good conversation with current pieces.

100 Days of Something: 57

Late night thoughts a few days into Klang Festival 2016.

Has the Sinfonietta format reached the end of its life? As fantastic as the ensemble of soloists might be, it no longer seems the most suitable place for new pieces. While sinfonietta musicians seem closer to their orchestral cousins, younger groups like Distractfold and Pampelmousse are more like bands. Less tied to repertoire and institutional organisational apparatus, they seem closer to the music they are playing. More aware of considering their concerts as a whole.

Distractfold was awarded the Kranichsteiner prize at the Darmstadt Ferienkurze 2014. A little on them and the shape of todays young ensembles at the end of this RNZ report.

100 Days of Something: 56

Anders Monrad has been channelling his creative energies into apps during the last few years. Virtuoso, an iPhone app, coupled generative audio with visual elements and the iPhone’s motion sensors. He had the good idea of getting percussionist Ying-Hsueh Chen to create some performances using the app – a kind of dance with the iPhone with the graphic component projected as a background. That concept has been expanded upon in Sounding Images #1–6, performed, once again by Ying-Hsueh, at Klang Festival this evening.

100 Days of Something: 54

Last year, during a Frankenstein’s Lab excursion to the Illutron collective, we were introduced to the possibility of making a musical instrument out of a jet motor.

Today Lars Kynde, together with Illutron, presented a Pulsejet Symphony in Copenhagen’s Fælledparken as the opening of Klang Festival 2016. Erwan Keravec played the bagpipes while wandering between three Pulsejet trombones spread out in the park. From where I was standing it sounded something like this:


The next Frankenstein’s Lab will take place Monday 30 November in the Buckminster Fuller inspired Dome of Visions (situated next to the Black Diamond).

Yann Coppier will kick off the evening with a presentation of a new instrument, a kind of pedalboard developed specially for a theatre performance in which he wanted to get out from behind his computer. Knud Riishøjgaard will present an excerpt from his lecture performance Armed with Friendliness and Hanne Tofte Jespersen will present her If the Land could Talk, a ‘collaborative composition’ aimed at putting children in touch with nature.

101 Words – 090

I met with Jill Richards for lunch today. Jill is a wonderful pianist without whom a piece like Antjie in Berlin would probably never have come to life. She has wonderful Steinway (carefully pampered), and many happy hours have been spent in her living room listening to the seemingly never ending resonances of its strings.

While composers may be stepping into the role of performer more often these days, Jill is an example of an ever creative performer. An initiator, free improvisor, and participant in many multi-disciplinary collaborations, she has also been creating soundtracks and now even works involving actors!

101 Words – 084

I’ve been sitting on a darkened stoep, evening sounds in the background, listening to violin:piano – a recent release of compositions by Kevin Volans beautifully played by Jill Richards and Waldo Malan. It’s Passi leggieri, the last piece of the recording that’s caught my ear. I’m intrigued by the abrupt changes in tempo, as if one was suddenly playing the fast passages at a slower speed in order to catch the details. This subtly composed zooming in on the sound/material has me thinking back on parts of the string quartet version of White Man Sleeps. And also of Adrian Holovaty’s Soundslice.

101 Words – 076

Listening to our now four-and-a-half month old daughter exploring the possibilities of her voice, I’ve often thought of Luciano Berio’s recorder sequenza Gesti: A piece in which at first uncoordinated changes in layers of independent parameters (air pressure, pitch, articulation etc.) gradually come together to produce sounds that during the course of the composition more and more resemble that which we know as “music”. Here’s a film from the sixties documenting a performance by a young Frans Brüggen (for whom the piece was written) preceded by a short interview. And for contrast a recent performance by Sarah Jeffery.

101 Words – 074

Sitting down to coffee at the breakfast table this morning, my chair, having shown no previous signs of weakness, splintered into pieces and sent me tumbling to the floor. Life has its surprises. Suddenly you’re on your back in what seemed to be the safest of environments.

What I was sitting down to was my daily arts festival. The Bad Blog of Musick covering the shifting (quick)sands of the Donaueschingen new music scene: Entertainment, media. IRCAM. Orchestral music. Then and now. Finding ways out of the “dystopia of freedom”.

Also some fine thoughts from Matt Gemmell on sharing your words.