PAETZOLD RECORDER & LIQUID CONTROL AT 31ST MBZ
Croatian Music Institute
Fluid Control – Media Evolution In Water
by artist group wechselstrom
Christoph Theiler & Renate Pittroff
Performance and Interactive Presentation of Instruments
We have developed water based electronic elements which we built into electric circuits to control different parameters of electronic sound and video tools. As a result of our research we have constructed a complex controller whose main component is water. This tool makes it possible to control analog and software synthesizers as well as video software and other electronic devices
Many traditional music instruments such as violins, guitars, timpani, pianos, and trumpets can give the musicians an immediate tactile response to their play. A strike on the timpani makes the mallets bounce back in a very specific manner, depending on the velocity, intensity, point, and angle of the beat. Plucking a guitar string, bowing a violin, sounding a trumpet or pushing a key on the piano not only requires overcoming a resistance but it also produces a kickback. On a piano for example, this kickback consists of the hammer falling back, an effect which the musician, upon touching the keys, can feel directly in his fingers. The nature and strength of this kickback response depend on both, the type of the action (plugging, beating, blowing, striking), and the strength, the sound quality, the pitch.
In electronic music the tactile feeling of the generated sound is absent. We cannot grab into the electric power and influence the sound quality with our hands in a direct manner. We cannot feel the swinging of an oscillating electric circuit consisting of transistors, resistors, and capacitors. Musicians have to play electronic instruments always in an indirect manner via interfaces.
These days the development of many industrially produced interfaces tends to avoid mechanical components as much as possible or to use only a minimum of mechanical parts. This leads to the fact that the input devices themselves do not create any music adequate resistance against the musician´s acting. Moving a fader or potentiometer from point zero up to half (50%) requires the same force as moving it from half to the top (100%). If this tool is used to influence the volume or the amount of distortion of a sound, one would wish for a fader whose sanding resistance increases according to the distance.
Certain attempts have been made at finding a solution but the results have not yet gone beyond the status of a dummy, i.e. they are not actually included in the work circle of the sound production.
The best known example of such a development are the weighted keys of a keyboard. They are supposed to imitate the feel of a traditional piano but are not actually linked to the sound production. However, these particularities of the electronic sound generation do not imply a lack because the listener is rewarded with an immense amount of sound possibilities, a wealth that hardly exists in music produced with traditional instruments. On the other hand we have to admit that these particularities clearly influence the aesthetic perception of the work. Especially in the beginning of electronic music people used to describe the sound as very mechanical.
As a performance, we will show a 30-35 minutes performance with analog synthesizers/sequencers, digital samplers, E-guitar, computer and DIY-made electronic circuits.
All streams whether they are audio or data streams are processed through “Fluid Control”, a tool whose main electrical component is water.
On one side our performance consists of predefined structural elements, several short and graphically notated compositions for e-guitar and a dramturgical concept. On the other side unforeseen incidences like improvisational happenings are an essential element of the production.
We take the electrical data streams of an analog sequencer (control voltages, gate events), mixing them together by using water and drive an analog synthesizer.
We take several electrical voltages (max. 10V), mix them together by using water and transform the results of this mixing process to a MIDI data stream. This MIDI stream influences several parameters of a software sampler.
We take all resulting audio streams (including the e-guitar sound) into a fluid control box and spread them out to stereo system. It is also possible to spread the sound out to a 5.1 system.
“wechselstrom” was founded in 2004 by Christoph Theiler and Renate Pittroff and is located in the 16th district of Vienna. There is also the off-space "gallery wechselstrom", which they run as a work space and temporary exhibition and performance space. In addition to works for theatrical and radio plays, wechselstrom is active in interdisciplinary areas of sound installation, media art and social sculpture.
Since their beginnings, the artist duo has often dealt with edge areas of art at the border to sociology communication science technology medie activism, and all art forms on the fringe of culture.
Museum of Contemporary Art - Gallery
Tamara Friebel: a defragmented hyacinth stain: sappho’s fragment
Gobi Drab: glass eye I - II - III
Onur Dülger: irk bitig
Liza Lim: weaver-of-fiction
Ivan Violić: GD for Paetzold recorder and electronics*
Gobi Drab, Paetzold recorder
In collaboration with Museum of Contemporaray Art
Gobi Drab & Paetzold Recorder
Gobi Drab, photo by Istok Zupan
Gobi Drab is a recorder player, pedagogue and performer. Her repertoire spans from free improvisation to contemporary composition and early music. She studied recorder with Ulrike Groier and Hans Maria Kneihs at the university for music and performing arts, Vienna, with Lene Langballe at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, and with Antonio Politano at the Haute école de musique, Lausanne. Improvisation classes with Manon Liu Winter, Franz Hautzinger and Burkhard Stangl. contemporary dance and improvisation workshops with Martina Sagmeister, Nici Rutrecht, David Hernadez, Andrew Harwood, Frey Faust, corinne lanselle and others. Gobi is a co-founder of the association “snim – spontaneous network for improvised music“, curator of the concert series Neue Musik in St. Ruprecht and member of PLENUM – a paetzold recorder ensemble. Concerts at Wien Modern, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Sonorities Festival Belfast, Winter im Herbst, Ultima Festival Oslo and others.
Gobi Drab, photo by Stefanie Luger OEGZM
We are going to hear and see your concert in which you’re going to perform on Paetzold recorder. Tell us what kind of instrument is it and what is your story with it?
The Paetzold recorder is a recorder, first and foremost. It was invented by the German instrument maker Herbert Paetzold in the 1970s and the design was inspired by organ pipes therefore the square shape. Also this square shape makes it easier to build very tall and therefore low instruments.
As a recorder player, you always have several instruments that you play - models from different centuries and in different sizes and tunings, which all sound very different. It's just a case of with which sound you want and need in the music you play. And for some reasons, the Vienna recorder players just seem to love Paetzolds, there are just so many of them around. Once I fell in love with the soundscape of Paetzolds, it was just a matter of time and saving up to buy first my contrabass - on which I will perform most pieces of my recital - and a bit later my subgreatbass.
I love playing Paetzold recorders because they are such creative noise machines.
As an artist you are very much involved in improvised music. Are there any special, positive “side effects” when improvised music is being performed on non-conventional instrument such as Paetzold recorder?
I have to contradict you here: the Paetzold is a conventional instrument, it is a recorder. It's just the shape that has changed. The sound is produced in the very same way as with a "regular" round recorder.
During my studies, I met a trombone player who said that the beauty of the recorder and the trombone lies in their simplicity. I think there is a lot of truth in that. In a recorder, there is not so much mechanics involved like in a piano or in a clarinet. And I think it's the simplicity of the instrument that gives you such freedom and range, especially in improvised music. (I have to add though: Do not be fooled, there is a lot of complexity and expertise that goes into building this seemingly simple wooden tube instrument.)
One quite funny side effect of playing Paetzold recorder is that sometimes after a concert people will come up to me with glowing faces and ask what instrument that is that I'm playing. When I tell them it's a recorder, most are a bit disappointed.
In this Biennale concert you are going to perform several compositions. Are they all written for this instrument, or are there some arrangements?
All compositions were composed for the Paetzold recorder and most of them were written for me.
Also, you are going to premiere composition named GD by Croatian composer Ivan Violić – how does it go when you have to present the instrument to some composer who isn’t familiar with it – what should they be aware of during their composing process, regarding the Paetzold recorder?
As with all collaborations, I think it depends on the mindsets of the people involved. Does a composer come with a set of sounds in mind that might or might not be possible on the Paetzold? Do we develop sounds and shapes together? How much time to we have to play?
Contemporary playing techniques on the Paetzold recorder are not that standardized, as it is still a relatively young instrument which is still developed further and further as we speak! Jo Kunath has taken over the workshop from Herbert Paetzold and there are wonderful things happening.
So advice for composers could be: Talk AND listen to your players. Come with open ears, there are a lot of soundscapes that you will not have heard from other instruments. It will be fun, I promise!