An extract from Harald Muenz and Mathais Traxler’s mail correspondence during the preparation stages of the CON_TEXT event ‘Haut-Parleurs’ on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th of February 2017 in the Lettrétage. (For further information about the event and its preparation, see here: video, photos, Norbert Lange’s letter to Mathias Traxler about the event. Original text in German). Translation: Alice Bibbings.
1: So, before I print out the score, I need to quickly get some paper and buy a few things.
2: Attached are a couple of examples of what the Minnesang II-Block might look like.
1: Gah. I just got your email. Lovely – Chopin, Schumann and Tristan!! Are you playing that on the piano?
2: Thank you very much for the interlined Konrad – now everything is much clearer.
1: Yeah, using ‘high level’ material is completely to be expected, and in a way it should even be obligatory, if possible. Thank you very much for the text from Lachenmann on the Accanto.
2: Before our Skype call, I just wanted to send you a few recordings that I’ve made over the last couple of days – they are still very loose, practically unedited and not yet transcribed. You get lots of passages in the texts that are about what’s on the inside, the outside, membranes and translations.
1: I’m still in the middle of renovating the song by Konrad von Würzburg. I will then need to find some more one or two syllable words from Giacomo da Lentini’s sonnets – somewhat of a highly conceptual enterprise… I’ll tell you more about that later.
2: Also, I’ve now taken the same recording of the Konrad von W poem and tried stretching it out over 60 minutes. I’ve done it with two different time-stretches for the right and left channels. You don’t have to keep the channels split and you can transform both of the stereo channels at the same time – it just saves upload time. Try playing with the balance setting when listening back. You can stream it here – the password for the file is ‘Konrad’.
1: Etter kirsch is one of the best.
2: Thinking along the lines of ‘the same and not the same’, I thought hypothetically that you could perhaps use the A clarinet and I could have the B so that we would have an automatic semitone clash between us when we played the same fingering. That way, we would also have a virtual ‘semitone membrane’ between us, which could produce lots of different reactions.
1: Don’t forget: we also need to get some Mozartkugeln (thinking about the budget) or do we still have a box full?
2: Don’t worry if I don’t message you every day – I’m still getting on with everything.
1: Yeah, I reckon setting up the loud speaker like you said would be a very good working hypothesis. Should we maybe also put some text to it?
2: Once we’ve decided on the main text, recorded it and stretched it out over 60 minutes, I would like to use the resulting sounds to carry out the first timed section of the hour.
1: This is another duo with me doing ‘KV421’
2: We’ve effectively got more than two recordings of ‘KV421’… I’ve got this vague idea about layering them up until it all becomes completely incomprehensible. And your voice should definitely come into it of as well. This is what the unsynchronised layering of 14 different readings of KV412 sounds like. I like the suspense at the end when the fizzling out of the decrescendo unexpectedly lets a little bit of something understandable come through.
1: And it’s great that you found the intercom. Now we can check on each other during the performance.
2: You could make two satellites with the thunder drums. One could produce quite a monistic effect at the beginning, with both of us making noises (each man for himself), and for the one in the second half we could have more of a dialogue, where we could speak some text into the tubes (perhaps a ‘Minne’ text?) but some of the words would be replaced (drowned out) by noises from the drums. So in the second half, people would visit the thunder drum stations in the same places in the room as before, but it would still be different.
1: I like the idea of ‘intercommunication’ in all possible forms as well, including interaction and dialogue (which also takes place between chamber musicians, of course).
2: Playing with the Superball drumsticks (which is indeed the technical music term in New Music for bouncy balls stuck on skewers) could also be set up in a dialogue, both between us and also as a way of getting into the tape’s sounds.
1: Another possibility in that vein might be to say a text ‘as slowly as possible’, basically creating live slow-motion by speaking. That would be another way of getting people closer to the tape’s sounds.
In 2 rooms, Traxler and Muenz prepare a speaking hour.
In 421 movements: the loud speaker rumbles through a tube. In the fridge, the echo of the piano; Gober simmering the accanto, the minne lies also therein.
Etter and Schlaferer will purify any who care to listen in a cherry-filled finale.
2: I have joined up the four lines of the Mozart string quartet and also made it an hour long, which sounds very beautiful. That would be just one initial idea for the hour’s overarching development. Its larger form would almost be like a decrescendo of paralleling speech through which the main text becomes gradually revealed.
1: Maybe that should also be the only time when we are both at the same point in the room (the closest we’ll ever get). Everything that comes before/ after would then be either a way heading towards or away from that point.
2: Attached are three (provisional) attempts that I’ve done with pre-existing texts of yours. I look forward to your response, please be critical!
1: There was lots of firewater flowing (whiskey, kirsch etc.), which might have mainly helped me to conserve certain strengths of mine.
2: Attached is the KV421 with a mark-up. I found it hard/ I didn’t manage to pick out the most important words. So here’s something different.
1: Your 12 ‘changeover markers’ were very helpful for me. I have now picked out a key work from the middle of each of the extracts that the markers establish – except for the first two very short texts (see the the words in red on the scan attached). That also makes 12. As you can see from the scan, I have numbered the changeover markers and the key words and have assigned one to the other. The timings in the square brackets relate to the 60-minute playback time, and they are also the times when your changeover markers come up (but not the words). That means that my 12 key words will be matched with your different changes/ we will be able to hear where the changes come on the playback.
2: Good call integrating the Mozart letter! What was the Pollini like? Bidding you a most merry evening. More tomorrow.
1: And I then asked about the relationship between a body present in the room and its voice – a body that, while playing back audio-tracks, manages to say both nothing and something real in that moment. What is said is not immediately recognisable and perhaps it will never be – it’s all based on the current setting and the other bodies present in the room (or the room next door).
2: Speaking multiple languages is a must. In other words, I don’t know how to avoid it.
Text © Mathias Traxler and Harald Muenz; translation: Alice Bibbings.
Photo © Evgeny Revvo / Lettrétage