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Interview with Franziska Baumann

Franziska Baumann (Switzerland) is an internationally acclaimed vocalist, composer and sound artist, and is experienced in a diversity of improvised and composed music. As a vocalist she explores the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument. Using her voice to expand traditional boundaries, she has developed an extensive vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques; multiphonics, glottal clicks and a variety of unique microtonal, timbre-modifying and percussive vocal techniques have become her compositional palette, her “signature sounds.” Her research interests include the voice as a communicative medium between instrumental sounds and the potentials of human emotions/human experiences by facilitating unusual ways of listening and consciousness.

As a composer her repertoire is diverse, and includes commissions for electroacoustic and improvised projects, experimental radioworks, and large-scale site-specific sound environments/installations, all of which are characterized by her very personal language. As artist-in-residence at Amsterdam’s STEIM (Studio for ElectroInstrumental Music) she developed an interactive SensorLab based Sensorglove, which she uses in her solo performances. Concert tours have taken her to the Netherlands, Germany, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Italy, Spain, South Korea, USA and Canada. Her research as a professor at the Berne University of Music (Switzerland) includes the intersection of voice and performance in technology-informed environments, in particular the role of the body and voice in the age of technological change. She is currently developing Tsanfleuron: Hearing the Body, Seeing the Voice, an interactive, multimedia vocal performance work that combines concert performance and virtual image space. Tsanfleuron integrates sounds from the “Megalopis” (Cairo), the “utopia of the empty space” and the high plains of the Tsanfleuron Glacier (Bernese Alps, Switzerland) into her singing.

[Julieanne Klein] It is wonderful to have this opportunity to speak with you regarding your work. I have been a huge fan of yours ever since I stumbled across your website researching my doctoral thesis. Can you begin by outlining your vocal training? How did you first discover the world of extended techniques?

[Franziska Baumann] In India singers are the direct link to God or Goddesses — they are seen as transmitter of the Unspeakable. This idea intrigued me… the voice can touch things in people that cannot be put into words. But my vocal imagination couldn’t be laced into a corset of bel canto; it always went far beyond the traditional. Exploring body and voice, developing vocal possibilities (sometimes supported and designed electronically), searching for spontaneous, emotional voice in [both] archaic and everyday expression; these things have accompanied me throughout the years. I discovered a lot by imitation of sounds. For example, I once lived close to a train station. The shunting trains fascinated me during the nights, and in trying to replicate these sounds with my voice I found myself creating very high, guttural, flattering multiphonics. I was also fascinated by new music pieces like Ligeti’s Aventures, a composition for vocal emotions based on an invented language (syllables, consonants and vowels). Though there is no storyline, the piece evokes a sense of musical theatre that triggers the listener’s associations and imagination.

Franziska Baumann performing Electric Renaissance, a live performance and installation for voice, sensorglove, laptop and sound dress. Multisonic Festival, Bukarest, Romania, 2007.
Franziska Baumann performing Electric Renaissance, a live performance and installation for voice, sensorglove, laptop and sound dress. Multisonic Festival, Bukarest, Romania, 2007. Photo © 2007, Andrei Kivu. [Click image to enlarge]

A somewhat similar experience exists with Berio’s Sequenza III, a composition that portrays a crazy woman whose emotions change very quickly. The emotions themselves are treated with musical parameters, and the impression of an abstract music theatre is quite vivid. It is important to transfer these extra-musical ideas into music, utilizing concrete ideas derived from visual arts, science, literature or the vocalic tones inherent in speech, and then working to translate these concepts into a vocal approach. There are many ways one can perceive the world through art; music is not just chords and melodies but also space, texture, physics, and much more.

In addition to classical voice lessons, I also frequently worked with instructors for opera, jazz, and Integratives Stimmtraining to learn more about the voice. Knowledge and skills of the vocal craft (including using the voice as an “instrumental” base) has allowed me to go quite far with my voice. In addition to enlarging my range of colors and expressions, I am able to sing night after night on tour using my voice in a healthy and economical way. Currently I teach voice training and conduct workshops for vocal performance at the University of Music in Berne. The vocal discoveries, of course, never end.

I am fascinated by your development of the Sensorglove while you were in residency at STEIM (Studio for ElectroInstrumental Music) in Amsterdam. How did this come about? What sort of technical background did you have prior to this residency? How has the technology and capabilities of your glove expanded over the years?

As a composer, after some years of composing “paper music”, I started to work on electroacoustic compositions when I got my first power Mac (around 1994) and some music software. As I worked on my vocal recordings those electroacoustic reflections inspired my acoustic vocal approach reversely. While working on the computer with vocal sounds I felt like a painter. I could develop textures, motifs, arches of tension, create energetic parameters, and isolate sounds which were not heard before in my vocal qualities. In 2001, as artist-in-residence at STEIM in Amsterdam, I had the opportunity to develop my own interface concept in collaboration with the electronics technicians and software engineers there. As a singer, I was looking for a way to integrate my work as a sound artist onstage without having to rely on a console with faders and buttons. I wanted to learn how to control my voice and manipulate sound and spatial articulations through gesture in real time, while keeping any devices and/or controllers close to the body.

The Sensorglove, an “interactive SensorLab based cyberglove” developed at STEIM by Franziska Baumann for live vocal and electronics performance.
The Sensorglove, an “interactive SensorLab based cyberglove” developed at STEIM by Franziska Baumann for live vocal and electronics performance. Photo © 2006, ton und bild GmbH. [Click image to enlarge]

Of the interface applications that were available at the time, the SensorLab system seemed to come closest to my idea of sound control by gesture. SensorLab is a sensor-based analog-to-MIDI interface that is able to communicate with any music software. The various sensors of SensorLab change incoming impulses into digital control data, and are individually designed in a way that makes it possible to wear them directly on the body. As a singer, I opted for a glove and a belt in order to make the multiple sensors and the interface portable and playable. My partner Daniel is a software engineer and therefore able to program my live-electronic needs in C++ for that interface. I have maintained the same setup for years in order to fully explore and master it as a singer, and to concentrate my focus on the musical and gestural aspect of my performances rather than on technique. The technical capabilities are now inscribed in my body. This allows me to let the musical possibilities and imagination run wild.

You’ve expressed a commitment to exploring “gesture based vocal performance, kinesthetic notation and artistic impulses… [using] the natural energy flow of the movements to produce a feeling of touching sounds.” How has the incorporation of the Sensorglove altered your conception of “the voice as the original instrument” (to paraphrase extended vocalist Joan La Barbara)?

It can be seen as two basic phenomena: the acoustic, individual voice in the body and the voice as a sound phenomenon in space. None of my pieces are about representations of stories, people, space or time. Instead, my focus is on the sound phenomena themselves, on their specific manifestations (including temporal and spatial extensions), as well as their ability to generate moods, feelings, energies, memories and associations. My work is an almost minimalist tonal reflection of itself, displaying different tones, voice qualities, rhythms, melodies and motifs that can recall something familiar, yet also seem entirely new and unheard.

Your biography states that in addition to your research and performance career you are a professor of “non-idiomatic improvisation-composition” at the Berne University of Music. Can you describe what this is? How are your courses structured? What do you perceive to be your role as an educator?

Non-idiomatic improvisation means that the improvisation is not based on any style, like Jazz, Baroque etc… The center of the course is free improvisation — invention and expression as a collective compositional process of equal players. In this context, “freedom” means that, among other things, (compositional) decisions in any direction are possible at any time. Consequently, the responsibility for the resulting music is borne by all participating players. Ideally, the dense network of relationships increases within the duration of the session, and the music itself gradually takes over.

We normally play in smaller groups (chosen without preference), and the resulting music is subsequently analyzed and reflected. Important questions to reflect upon are: How was energy generated? What are the supporting musical parameters? How was the form? How was the quality? How did we develop musical material? What did the improvisation align together? What was not possible? Aspects such as formal statements, material economy, and awareness of the roles or functions within the developing piece are central themes of discussion.

Let’s talk about the electronic and avant-garde music scene in Europe. Can you tell us more about the music happening there? Our readers of course know about Berlin as a Mecca of electronic music. How do you perceive the artistic community there, both in the past and currently? How does the Berlin scene compare to other European cities?

As I see it, from my point of view there are several electronic and avant-garde music scenes in Europe with different focuses. There is the traditional IRCAM in Paris, the STEIM in Amsterdam, the Computer Center in Zurich, the School of Music & Sonic Arts in Belfast, and many others. The Swiss academic places are mostly involved in research programs that afford them the opportunity to develop new horizons. On the other hand, there are also the open electronic scenes in Europe. In these scenes I think there are lots of individual approaches to electronic music, as musicians are coming together from vastly different groups and networks. In the time of globalization people travel a lot and therefore scenes between cities are mixed up. Berlin is a vibrant city with lots of artists (and no money!) though people are very open and one can immediately get involved in projects. I spent a couple of months there in the 90s. It is an artist’s Mecca, a melting point of arriving artists indeed, but I think you can find electronic music in other places as well.

What are some of the differences and similarities that you see between the European and North American electronic and avant-garde scene?

That’s a difficult question because I am not fully versed in the North American avant-garde scene, but in general, the Europeans are probably more interested in art and culture. I’m not saying the Europeans are more educated, but art and culture in Europe seem to have more validity. We want to hear interesting music, and the music industry and its commercial interests don’t detract from the value of new and improvised music as blatantly as it seems to in the US. However, in Europe I feel a stronger connection to the tradition of art and culture, which has advantages and disadvantages, while in America I have experienced that people are more focused directly on the actual quality of music, which allows for a broader horizon of artistic freedom.

You discuss in your writings your interest in “the role of the body and voice in the age of technological change.” Can you please expand upon this?

There is a lot to say about this. A fundamental precondition to interacting with music in a cognitive, emotional and intellectual manner is that one must not only be able to hear a musician play but also see him or her play. Vocal motion sequences, which are visible, allow for an intuitive approach to the understanding of the energy control that deals with sound creation, and is necessary to the making of music. Over the course of centuries, we have become accustomed to certain kinds of relationships between sound, the instrument, the voice and that which we see in a concert. In the process, the body itself has become the interface to the “interpretability” of the music. The image portrayed by the interpreter, which is linked to his or her voice, can also tell us something about the musical ideas of the performer. With electronically created sounds, sound creation eludes this “interpretability” all together. The connection between movement and sound is indiscriminate, and therefore can only be interpreted again on a meta level of its own artistic staging. The fundamental decoupling of visually and comprehensibly applied kinetic energy and the resulting sound (for the interpreter) also means a change in the relationship between kinesthetic and tactile sensation when using live electronic applications. The decoupling of the sound creation process from the body results in the creation of a new relationship between sound and immediate, physically felt feedback. The randomness of the relationship between gesture and sound raises the question as to whether new ways of physical expression should be used within the context of musical activities. Recognizability and bewilderment lead to new tension in a multi-sensory interplay of æsthetic meanings.

The quest for meaningful relationships between gesture, sound creation and sound control keeps me occupied time and again. The use of sound generating and processing software (including various plug-ins and pre-composed sound zones) results in complex relationships within the control processes. Visual assignments, which are often times not clearly discernible, create visually changing intersections in the assignment of sound creation and sound control. Mechanical movements, which are “necessary” to execute control processes, and accompanying movements, which are not absolutely “necessary” for the musical outcome but enhance the interpretive understanding of the musical processes, stand in juxtaposition to each other. This interplay of “necessary movements” and communication of ideas through music and gesture opens up new artistic perspectives. These “additional” gestures that communicate sound ideas not only change the listening experience of the audience, but also the way I experience the resulting sound myself (as the performer/interpreter). To compose new gestures and sound creations/sound control constellations, and then link them to extended control parameters, is an artistic challenge that never ceases to fascinate me.

This next question is one I am particularly interested in, as I have just returned from volunteering in Tanzania, Africa. We are living in a world besieged with moral and existential dilemmas. Members of First World nations are enjoying exponential technological growth and material wealth, while the developing world grapples with ever-increasing poverty, violence, the effects of environmental destruction, and the disappearance of vital resources such as water and food. Artists interested in technology / interactivity are on the cutting edge of exploring the future, yet we cannot help but take into account the suffering that is happening in the Third World. As an artist of the 21st century, what do you perceive your role to be in regards to the huge global issues we are currently facing? Do you think artists have a responsibility to represent these issues in their work, or at least take social consciousness into consideration?

In the present civilization, many people tend to forget our dependence on the earth and our interconnectedness with all its living creatures. We act as if we own the earth — it is as if two fleas are arguing about who owns the dog on which they both live. Everything we do affects everything else. Therefore, we must take responsibility on a small scale for what is happening around us. So the first place where I personally can do something for peace is to foster positive human qualities such as creativity, tolerance, sensitized perception, compassion, and responsibility at home, at school, within the projects I am working on, etc.

Second, my way to make music is already a political statement. I don’t care about commercial aspects while creating music. It is the music itself that leads me in my career; it is a question (and a decision) of being honest in my artistic endeavors and not behaving in an opportunistic way. I try to make the music I would like to hear. I feel responsible to the quality of music, and as a result, a career might appear through coincidence and chance.

However, the suffering all over the world shouldn’t prevent us from making art. I am very conscious about the privilege to investigate my time into new musical approaches. I have traveled throughout some Eastern European countries such as Romania, Poland and Czech Republic, and I have also been to Egypt. Thanks to the support of our University and the Swiss Cultural Foundations we had the ability to tour these countries while working with local students and musicians in workshops, lectures and presentations. In this way I try to share my time and to bring my experience to musicians whom are less privileged.

Let’s talk about what inspires you. You clearly have a close connection to nature, and are committed to making music in natural spaces, demonstrated in several of your compositions and sound projects: Klangspur Segnes was a group of musicians performing in the Segnes Valley; Albanatscha was a sound performance, concert and art installation overlooking a beautiful mountainside near St. Moritz; Prau Pulté was a sound installation on the lake of Prau Pulté and included floating loudspeakers and loudspeakers in the trees; Klang Aar(i)e was a concert floated on a boat down the River Arne with ensembles performing on various parts of the riverbank. Can you discuss your connection to nature, and what you hope to communicate with these environmental sound projects?

I grew up on a farm and this experience helped develop my creative life. The raw, auditory poetry of natural sounds experienced in my childhood has become my mother tongue, and remains a direct inspiration for vocal approaches in many of my works. (At first) I began to collect environmental sounds because to me, they were de facto music; moreover, music that belonged to everyone. The seeking out and collecting of this natural music was a way to connect directly to my childhood roots on the farm, as well as a way for me to let some raw oxygen into the often airless confines of the new music workplace. Right from the start, the sounds of water, wind, frogs, cicadas, bees, birds, children at play, everyday objects, and above all my childhood places in nature provided me with a symphonic-sized lexicon — its potential seemed incredibly vast.

In the beginning it was more like a dream… how was I to listen to sounds and then realize the impossible task of composing sound? In a way I dreamed the world of sounds. In my music there is a process of distillation of my finite sound-imagination, a continued “story-telling” without words. I enjoy putting together disparate sound events; experimental yodeling combined with choral music I wrote based on vocal layers with recordings of Rhone Glacier’s ice breaking as it trumpets across vast spaces. These are the kinds of polyphonic sounds that are natural to me — they become structures that easily illustrate the inherent music in all things.

In 2000 I started evolving concert music from indoor performances to presentations in specific places and various outdoor situations. The world itself is a real and imaginary concert hall that offers nonstop music and multiple sonic spaces. Performing outside of the concert hall has allowed me to experience sound in a context I haven’t experienced before. In many cases, the music employs and adapts to the spaces in which these sounds exist, as a form of nature-theater. My sound projects often include the environment as an instrument, as one of the players. Under an open sky new patterns of sound reception are possible, and the sensitivity for the environment increases. This also enables an audience that is not accustomed to new music to gain access to experimental music in an accessible environment, and to experience new ways of listening. I’ve performed at climate conferences and at events concerned about global warming and the problem of melting glaciers. I think modern ecologists may have reached a limit to how effectively they can convey messages to the public, whereas the emotional vibrancy offered by the arts may touch the audience in a more direct way.

I am reminded of the soundscape compositions of Canadian R. Murray Schafer. Are you familiar with his work? What other artists have inspired you?

While I am not familiar with R. Murray Schafer’s work, I was inspired by Hildegard Westerkamp (German/Canadian composer and sound ecologist), and by the New York Downtown Scene of the 70s and 80s, artists such as Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, Fred Frith, Shelley Hirsch, etc. I liked their fresh approach and their individual musical search, which was not overly concerned with the European, highly academic “fathers” of music. The list of musicians and composers that have inspired me is very long. There was a time when I listened intently to the classics of new music like Feldman, Cage, Ligeti, Scelsi and G.F. Haas. I was interested in the grammar of their music, their “sound phenomena” — all these composers have a strong synæsthetic feeling connected to their compositional skills. I also listen to modern jazz like Vishay Iyer, Wayne Shorter, current avant-garde Swiss jazz, and of course improvised music. I like the music of the African Pygmies, particularly their polyrhythmic pattern music. One of my most central and highly precious inspirations is the collaboration with musician friends, where we reflect upon, develop and conjoin our musical approaches.

You have a particular connection to glaciers, which I find absolutely fascinating! Ice Songsand Gletscherklangstron both use glaciers as a sound space; the source materials for the pieces are prerecorded glacial sounds (in your words, “creaks, drips, rumbles and shuffles”) and then your voice. Can you talk us through both of these pieces? You state your love for the aliveness and dynamics of ice. How did you discover your passion for using glaciers as a sonic environment?

In 1999 I got a commission for the Fest der Künste 2000, in the Engadin-Swiss Alps. I was asked to create and compose a sound project for a transformer substation on the Julier Pass. This was an opportunity to explore my fascination for the glacier as a sound space. I organized several trips to glaciers in the Swiss Alps in order to collect sounds on traversals and crevasse explorations. The huge power of a massive ice body is overwhelming; its sliding velocity of an average of 100 m a year on the bottom and 140 m on the surface, its ice quakes dividing ice blocks within fractions of seconds, the labyrinth of inside spaces and ice halls… the inside woofer vibration around 80 Hz touched me bodily. Unfortunately, these deep vibrations have tragically disappeared during the last ten years as the ice has melted more and more.

Franziska Baumann on the Rhone Glacier (Switzerland) recording the sounds of glacier activity for use in her work Gletschergesänge (Ice Songs).
Franziska Baumann on the Rhone Glacier (Switzerland) recording the sounds of glacier activity for use in her work Gletschergesänge (Ice Songs). Photo © 2005, Daniel Repond. [Click image to enlarge]

In processing the sounds I examined their detailed structures, down to the tiniest sound molecule, and melted them together with my voice into new compounds. An interactive sound sculpture was created in the assembly hangar of the Albanatscha substation above Silvaplana, and I developed an on-site composition about glaciers, consisting of both streaming sounds and a concert performance. Gletscherklangstrom and Gletschergesänge became part of various performances, existing on the borders between the installation, performance art and sculptural spatial sound concepts.

You have an extensive discography of nine recordings. I love watching videos of your performances — I find a tremendous kinesthetic connection as I watch you sing with your Sensorglove, and so many of your works seem to be of an interdisciplinary, audiovisual nature. I am curious about your opinion on the effectiveness of transcribing your multimedia art into audio recordings. Do you find there is a sense of loss?

CDs and live performances are different medias of transmitting. The music on a CD must be able to withstand repeated listening, while in a live concert (whether audiovisual or not) an important component consists of the interaction between performer and audience. Even if parts of the music can be recognized on a CD, a live concert is different.

Let’s talk about your composition voice sphere. I find this performance particularly exciting — I just love the way you use your voice! Can you walk us through your composition process? Do you envision the vocals and then create the electronics to augment them or do you have another creative methodology?

As an example, I can be interested in the coloring of an intended vocal bubble, in the emotional timbre of a previously thrown sentence fragment, or in the unspeakable communication of a wordless vocalization, this fetch from something that words cannot express. Inspiration can come from anywhere: from painted textures, from heard sounds (composed or improvised music), from meta ideas… I like chemistry and I am interested in how the tiniest elements “communicate”, how their energies interact, how surfaces of plastics can be treated to change their adhesiveness… It is a wonderful picture for composing vocal layers while exploring inside relationships.

Naturally I improvise a lot, and I have a diary where I sketch my vocal ideas. Later I explore these ideas in more detail, decline them in all sorts of way, combine them, record them and then start developing ideas for compositional or live electronic treatment. It is a meeting with the logic of the sense of sound, of the vocal sense, which is of a different logic than the logic of reason. A logic that shapes the sound produces a logic of its own incumbent vocal sounds, refractions and transformations, rather like the laws of the dream. I am not so much a constructivist, who first designs the form and then fill it up. I more compose from the inside to the outside with a net of internal relations.

Your latest project Tsanfleuron is quite an undertaking! From what I understand, the world premiere will be a simultaneous, interactive performance between singers in Cairo and Switzerland, including live webcam transmissions; the Egyptian and Swiss singers will improvise and react to each other’s vocal production in real-time. You’ve titled the piece a New Opera Project. Can you describe your inspiration for this composition?

The opera is a magical space-time place where you can debate things in a playful way. I am interested in creating new realities; therefore in Tsanfleuron we are exploring the relationship between music and image in a scenic form. How is the scene changing by the sound and how is the sound moving through the images? These are main elements to play with. The question is, of course, how contemporary the opera form is for what moves our time. I use the idea of the “ensemble”, the “aria” and the “libretto”. The Egyptian singers sang material for the “ensemble” and also for virtual duets between them and myself. The environmental sounds which I recorded in Cairo and the desert act as an ensemble as well — the world itself is an ensemble that drives the action forward. The arias convey emotional states, where one can stay a little. That is of course a wonderful place for a vocalist.

Franziska Baumann performing Tsanfleuron — Hearing the Body, Seeing the Voice, a work that combines voice performance concert performance and virtual image space. Carte Blanche Franziska Baumann, Dampfzentrale Berne, Switzerland.
Franziska Baumann performing Tsanfleuron — Hearing the Body, Seeing the Voice, a work that combines voice performance concert performance and virtual image space. Carte Blanche Franziska Baumann, Dampfzentrale Berne, Switzerland. Photo © 2010, Daniel Repond. [Click image to enlarge]

The image patterns will be projected onto several screens on the stage, and will provide a setting for me that I can control with gestural electronics. These images create a “spatial libretto” that advances and influences the dynamics of the sound (“sound icon” or “PICTOretto”). They are the counterparts to the vocal elements. Nature and technology, silence and urban Moloch, solitude and dissolution of boundaries in the urban flow, concentration of sound and noise density, monophony and polyphony, seeing and hearing — the voice production Tsanfleuron takes place between two opposing fields, that of virtual and that of real space. In a setting of poetic vocal space and moving images, we are presenting a vocal piece that integrates the unfamiliar and traverses established limits.

Sound recordings and visual images were gathered in Cairo, Egypt of singers, everyday voices, preachers, speakers, sounds of crowds, etc., as well as at the Tsanfleuron Glacier in Wallis, Switzerland. Your notes state that the Tsanfleuron Glacier appears “as an opposite pole, a place of emptiness, a void, a utopian place… Through a visual and acoustic change in perspective, at an altitude of 3000 meters, between glaciers, rubble and karst fields, the “condensed” images from Cairo are contrasted with contrary structures of time and rhythms.” It seems you are making a dramatic statement on the extreme physical and social diversity one can experience on Earth. What are you hoping to achieve with this project?

Things are flowing steadily. Change and movement are inherent in our lives, even if sometimes we would like to hold onto things. In the face of eternity, death, love, we somehow must remain adaptable. The moment when I realize that I’m very small and that I am a plaything of nature, the consciousness of freedom arises. People nowadays can travel quickly around the globe. The simultaneity of different realities has become commonplace — there is no ideal form of society. It is a venture to offer such topics in an associative and not a narrative way. I do not want to convey a specific message, I want to share and let the audience participate in a production from which they can make their own associations.

Here is another one of my favorite questions. As a performer and researcher of contemporary and electroacoustic music, at times I find myself concerned with the [perceived] elitism of this genre — Milton Babbitt’s admittedly contentious article “Who Cares If You Listen” comes to mind. While I don’t believe that high art should be simplified or “watered down”, what are your thoughts on this? Should avant-garde composers/artists seek to enrich broader audience appreciation and facilitate a positive listening experience? If so, how can this best be achieved?

First, if I accept the uncertainty and irrationality of the human, a kind of security arises which is not artificial. One must keep things in flow and be responsible to society, which declares more and more some specific contents as mainstream. I lean on that. I offer the listener the opportunity to learn something, and strive to help evolve a larger, more sensitive perception for him. Perception is historical and therefore not an absolute, biological quantification. The listener always compares new information with his traditional classification system, illustrated in the neural structures in the brain. It is a challenge to arouse the audience and simultaneously fascinate them towards new musical territories.

In this context, the visual attention is interesting. Visual aspects may help listening with the eyes. We think that the attention span is a biological phenomenon and is particular to man, yet hours of concentration on one thing has to do with industrialization. Theories of perception from earlier times acknowledge that attention span played only a minor role. The real determining factor was the “roving eye”.

Second, I think [audience appreciation] is an organizer’s problem. If the organizer is able to gather an interested audience, then this problem does not arise. Personally, I greatly enjoy the audience and I try to invite them to join me in a communicative way. It is wonderful to share time and space in a realm of higher sensitivity. The SensorGlove’s gestures help to facilitate audience understanding of the more abstract parts of my music. The SensorGlove communicates the musical ideas in an intimately physical, body close, and therefore dramatic way. I find it difficult to perform in venues where the audience expects head nodding (jazz for example). And naturally it is nicer to play in full halls than in front of only a handful people. But I think watering down one’s art is a sort of resignation. How can musicians play without passion? It is not against any good music, sometimes I like groove or melody, but if it is played opportunistically it lacks authenticity. When I was in Minsk last October with the Trio Potage du Jour (voice, piano, saxophones), we played twice in a jazz club. In the spirit of collaboration we invited two Belarussian musicians as our guests, a drummer and a bass player. They were not familiar with free improvised music. So first we played a set of our music, and in the second set we played with them, alternating between free improvised music and jazz tunes. These were fantastic concerts! As a result, the audience was able to appreciate and respect our free music because they could hear us play “proper” music as well.

Where do you see the future of music heading? What do you hope to contribute to this future with your art?

Fortunately, I am curious and have the ability to live out this curiosity. To never find oneself as a victim of circumstances and to not fall into a tearful attitude, that’s where my artistic impulse arises and continues. Artistry means nothing else than to feel the reality virtually. These basic emotions must be expressed and used to shape reality as I feel it. I like to open up vocal realms, the unheard… I like to invite the audience to experience sonic places of a particular moment in a specific place, to share moments in a highly sensitive way. In this respect, I hope it might offer them the opportunity to access a variety of new, creative places within the human experience, and thereby become acquainted with the virtual of the reality.

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