Fäden Ziehen (2010)

6-channel piece, duration 7’54”.

This piece has been composed originally for the Crosspoint of the Roland Levinsky Building in Plymouth. This space seems fairly unimpressive as a performance space—its interior decoration and lighting is functional, its acoustic properties not optimized for music diffusion, the atmosphere is that of a transient space, a “crosspoint” after all. However, an inconspicuous grid near the staircase was found. It turned out that it was a leftover of a project failure: A water fountain was once supposed to sputter from the six slots beneath the grid, but it never happened… An “audio fountain” is now installed below the grills, using six dedicated speakers.

In “Fäden ziehen”, two things are brought together that are usually constrasted: Tape composition as a fixed medium piece for a neutral standardized space (the concert hall) and sound installation as a non-dramatic work that is created in dialogue with its environment and the site of performance.

Photo: Nayarí Castillo

The piece specifically plays with the situation that one has a constantly changing acoustical perspective when moving around the grill (an activity gratefully realised by the audience). The fact that the sound is coming from below the floor for me produces the visual metaphor of a gully hole from which different weeds start to grow. The weed as noise or something dislocated is reflected by the recent moving from Germany over to Plymouth. The noises reflect the aural luggage brought to the island, plundering a ten year old sound archive with focus on colourfulness and contrast.

While in the first part, this colourfulness is presented in its truculency, in the second part a process of drawing threads (“Fäden ziehen” in German) is initiated that connects the different weeds across space. The title of the piece is a pun: The person that draws the threads is the “puppet master”, which refers to the examination of the possibilities to have computer algorithms construct parts of the piece, bringing the question of authorship and mutual control. Finally, “Fäden ziehen” as the activity of taking out the stitches after a surgery, an ironic analogy to the activity of “operating” on sound.

Although perhaps not of importance to the audience, this piece is also a technical challenge, as it was created using a new composition software environment that I am developing as part of my PhD at the ICCMR. Below the surface it is also a testimony of the struggling with the limitation of a prototype system.

Fäden Ziehen (extract; binaural mix for headphones)