|roland dahinden | composer – performer||deutsch english|
My compositional work consists of three categories: concert works, sound installations and sound sculptures.
The concert works (with or without live electronic) were written with a view to concert performance, staged in a platform-auditorium scenario or similar. I conceived the idea of a “sound-space-process” (German: klangraumprozess), which makes use of the possibilities opened up by live electronics, in my search for a concert setting that emphasises the live character of a performance (and cannot be reproduced at home by the listener using a stereo panorama). In addition, some compositions that do not use live electronics were conceived. The concert works belong to the genre of chamber music, but the sound-space-processes lead to the unfolding of an orchestral sonority.
The sound installations were created for specific physical spaces and were conceived as verbal concepts. The installations are largely the result of collaborations with visual artists.
The sound sculpture develops as a meeting of the first two categories, where this meeting takes place with a shift in time and/or space. The observation that lies behind this idea is that the perceiver puts together a physical structure or object in the memory as a sum of side elevations (views) in perspective and, thus, that the recognition of a sculpture is an achievement of the memory. A concert work or a series of concert works are added to the sound installation. Thus, the audience do not hear the installation and the concert work simultaneously in the same space, but rather they have to weave together the sounds in the memory to form a sculpture.
Concert works without electronics
The concert works without electronics use space notation, like some of the sound-space-processes do. The indications of tempo are approximate so as to enable the interpreters to react to the acoustic qualities of the concert space and their own subjective and of-the-moment feelings. The rationale behind this decision were my experiences as an interpreter of contemporary music and improvisation. As an interpreter I appreciate being given as much creative freedom as possible by the composer. In contemporary music, and elsewhere, there is a great tradition of issuers and receivers of orders. My compositions emphasise the element of co-operation between composer and interpreter. I try to define only as much as necessary and leave the musicians as much creative freedom as possible. I intend this as a political statement, too, because the top-down structures of our culture (in the arts, politics, the economy, etc.) strike me as problematic.
In my compositional work I intend to initiate processes with room for freedom and not create a compositional superstructure but rather create a space in which sounds can blossom, which stands in a direct relation to the emphatically listening actions of the interpreters.
In these compositions, no stories are told, instead, I view a composition as a possible aspect of a sound microcosm or as an excerpt from a thought process.
Concert works with live electronics
In my endeavour to design a concert situation as a distinctly ‘live’ moment, I composed a series of sound-space-processes. In these compositions, special emphasis is placed on spatiality and process character. What is specific to the sound-space-process is that it builds on a constantly changing additive principle. The simple addition of layers, which the computer spatialises (and plays into the auditorium) differently on each occurrence, generates a constant change of the sound gestalt. As the process goes on, the fact that live electronics makes possible the simultaneity of sound material that was originally played in temporal sequence, leads to a sound and space event of ever-increasing density and complexity
The sound installations constitute a consistent extension of the idea of open form, as discussed in the section on concert works. The installations are ‘timeless’ in so far as they do not really have a beginning and an end; time is merely used as a vehicle. The compositions are notated as verbal concepts and, with as few instructions as possible, I try to sketch as precisely as possible an acoustic and spatial situation, the interpretation of which is left to the performers
The installations mostly originate through collaboration or, more precisely, the encounter with a fine artist, or rather their work, with the aim to design a space audio-visually. The works are created for specific places, conceived of in situ. Further, there have been collaborations with a number of different artists, such as Andreas Brandt, Stéphane Brunner, Daniel Buren, Rudolf de Crignis, Philippe Deléglise, Inge Dick, Rainer Grodnick, Sol LeWitt and Lisa Schiess.
As described at the beginning, the sound sculpture consists of temporally and/or spatially separate installational and performative parts. I became conscious of the phenomenological observation how we recognise an object as I was contemplating Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘Le Penseur’. In looking at this figure I found myself reflecting on the possible temporal and spatial aspects of music and the discussed definition of the sculptural concept in my work came to me.
I would also like to describe a second observation that may serve to clarify my understanding of the relationship between sound, time and space. I grew up in the small town of Zug in Switzerland (where I have returned after spending several years abroad). My home town has many small and a few larger churches. The house next door is a Romanesque chapel the loud sound of whose bells reaches my house. The ringing becomes irregular towards the end until the sound of the bells at last fades away after the final impact. However, before silence returns, I can hear the soft ringing from other churches from different directions in the distance.