Broken Consort

for ensemble with electronics (1999)

Duration: ca. 15 min
First performance: Witten, 2000/05/05

GEMA No.: 5245018


The more sounds from loudspeakers penetrate our everyday lives, the more the concert hall becomes a kind of refuge in which we dedicate ourselves to the fragile magic of live perfomances. A simple electronic amplification may already destroy this particular contact between performers and listeners.

Adding nevertheless real-time sound processing to the ensemble is motivated by the interest in two zones of transition: the one between a chord and a complex sound (our ear can break down the chord into individual notes, whereas a complex sound can only be perceived as a global phenomenon), and the one between pitch and rhythm (parameters which interfere in the range from 16 to 30 Hz).

With the precision and speed of current computer technology these zones of transition can be explored not only in tape pieces, but also in the realm of live-electronics. In Broken Consort relatively transparent instrumental chords are for instance being transformed into complex sounds by weaving rich synthesizer sounds with similar spectral characteristics into them. Furthermore fast periodic modulations of the synthetic sounds (vibrato, fluttering, roughness, changes of brightness) are put into a variety of relations with certain instrumental playing techniques (quartertone oscillations and trills, flatterzunge, multiphonics, alternative fingerings).

Such methods of intertwining instrumental and electronic sounds are developed in search of a very compact "Symphonia" – nearly like in the broken consorts of pre-orchestral English chamber music.