Rollin Rachele

4 concerts this week (NL/PL)

dear listeners,

I’d like to announce a couple of concerts in The Netherlands and in Poland in the coming week:


Monday 18 november, AMSTERDAM, Het Poortgebouw, 1st Floor, Tolhuisweg 2: Oorsprong Curator Series, start at 20 o’ clock. Free-improvisation with flutist Mark Alban Lotz and guitarist Bram Stadhouders and vocalist Mark van Tongeren, and several other exciting music/dance impro-combinations in two other sets that same night.

Thursday 21 November, AMSTERDAM, Mediamatic/Fabriek – Echokamer, 20:30, Superstringtrio (Rollin Rachele, Mark van Tongeren) and Daphne van Tongeren (light/performance).
Echokamer is a series of events during which composers, musicians and other sound-makers experiment with sound at, and with the sound of, Mediamatic Fabriek. The giant industrial hall reverberates and erodes, and produces quite a bit of sound all by itself. The perfect place for noisy experiments. Read more details about Superstringtrio’s sonic excursion next Thursday on this link:

Sunday 24 November, KRAKOW (Poland), Audio Art Festival/Bunkier Sztuki, 19 o’clock, Superstringtrio. We have been invited by Marek Choloniewski, founder of Audio Art Festival, one of the most long-standing festivals dedicated to Sound Art in all its beautiful, radical and weird manifestations, to join the ranks of many artists who have performed there in past decades. Superstringtrio will present an updated version of its performance Incognito Ergo Sum, premiered in Amsterdam earlier this year at the occasion of the PhD-defense of Mark van Tongeren’s Thresholds of the Audible- thesis at Leiden University. See a short clips of it on Vimeo: For the full program of the festival, which has already started yesterday and continues next week, check this link:
(with our thanks to Horst Rickels, who gives a workshop and concert in Krakow tomorrow with his Lesley-speakersystem, together with Robert Pravda).

In a couple of hours I am leaving Taiwan. If all goes well I might join Oorbeek tomorrow, Saturday 16 November at the opening of The New Institute in ROTTERDAM. Set 1 at 17 o’ clock, set 2 at 17:45. 6th floor, Museumpark 25, 3015 CB Rotterdam,

Hope to see you somewhere!

Best wishes,

mark van tongeren

Jonathan Harvey’s Forms of Emptiness morgen bij Musica Sacra

Morgen opent het Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht met Forms of Emptiness van de onlangs overleden Britse componist Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012). Een groots opgezet stuk voor drie koren en twee boventoonzangers op basis van de onovertroffen Hart Soetra (een fascinerende tekst die ik zelf sinds een jaar of wat reciteer) en teksten van E.E. Cummings. Was ik in Nederland geweest, dan had ik meegedaan, maar met Diem Borg Groeneveld hebben ze in ieder geval 1 goede boventoonzanger. Hij laat weten zelf wat meer te doen qua boventonen dan wat de partituur voorschrijft. Waarschijnlijk wist Harvey in 1986 nog niet wat er allemaal mogelijk was, of kon hij niemand vinden die kon doen wat hij graag wilde horen. Neemt niet weg dat Harvey een uitstekende componist was met interessante ideeën over muziek en resonantie, zoals na te lezen in zijn boek In Quest of Spirit.

Overigens is deze week de 70e verjaardag van Michael Vetter, avant-garde fluitist en later ook deelnemer aan Stockhausen’s vroege werken met boventoonzang (maar weer niet de eerste, Stimmung, uit 1968). Vetter’s half-Japanse dochter Mayuko schreef nog vóór Harvey’s stuk uit ’86 een boek vol zeer ingewikkelde boventoonzang-etudes. Zij was toen 6 jaar oud…. (en kon elk stuk zelf zingen). Er was dus wel degelijk meer gaande dan Harvey vermoedde. En nog steeds weten componisten niet goed wat ze moeten of kunnen doen met boventonen. Als alles goed gaat zullen Rollin Rachele en ik, alias het Superstringtrio, in november van dit jaar nog eens laten horen wat je allemaal nog meer kan met vokale boventonen, in Amsterdam en in Polen. We houden je op de hoogte. Eerst genieten van Harvey’s Forms…  bij Musica Sacra, gezongen door Studium Chorale o.l.v. dirigent Hans Leenders.

March10-13: PhD defense and performances

On March 13 I shall, deo volente, succesfully defend my thesis

Grenzen van het hoorbare: over de meerstemmigheid van het lichaam (Thresholds of the Audible: about the Multiphony of the Body).

For those interested there are several opportunities to attend performances in the days prior to the defense. All events can be attended free of charge.

Superstringtrio: Rollin Rachele & Mark van Tongeren

Superstringtrio: Rollin Rachele & Mark van Tongeren (Photography Jochem Hartz)

Sunday 10 and Tuesday 12 March

18:30, doors open 18:00

Incognito Ergo Sum, performance

Dokzaal, Plantage Doklaan 8-12, 1018 CM Amsterdam

With Superstringtrio (Rollin Rachele, Mark van Tongeren, voices), Horst Rickels (artistic advice), Daphne van Tongeren (light-performance) and Maksim Chapochnikov (speaker).


mark van tongeren nulpunten

0… / Zeropoints

Monday 11 March

13:30-16:30, ongoing

0…: an overtone singing marathon for two singers

Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Rapenburg 38, Leiden

With Superstringtrio (Rollin Rachele, Mark van Tongeren, voices), Paul Oomen (live compositional direction).

Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, Rapenburg 38, Leiden.


Thresholds of the audible

Thresholds of the audible

Wednesday 13 March

12:45 – 13:15 Introductory talk, Zaal 2

13:45 – 14:45 Defense, Senaatskamer

14:45 – 15:45 Reception, downstairs

Academiegebouw, Leiden University, Rapenburg 73, Leiden

On the Fusica website you can find more information on all the events:

Fusica logo

And here you may announce your wish to attend one or more of the events.

Your attendance at one or more of the events will be much appreciated!

Rollin Rachele (Photography: Jochem Hartz)

Rollin Rachele (Photography: Jochem Hartz)

Thanks for sharing, hope to see you.

Mark van Tongeren

Rollin Rachele & Mark van Tongeren present: 0…

and here as text:

Zero Point is the result of a four-year long artistic research by Mark van Tongeren into Overtone Singing and the Thresholds of Audibility, at the Academy for Creative and Performance Arts (Leiden University) and docARTES (Ghent). It exists of many hundreds of possible permutations that together build up the technique of overtone singing from the ground. The presentation this Thursday consists of a small selection of these strings of sound structures, alternated with other compositions and improvisations that have been developed in these years. Thus the musical, harmonic source material of the human body is made audible in all its glorious, shimmering and rubbing forms. This is the first, short presentation of a theatrical-ritual process that is under development, and in which other Parafonists will take part.

Direction: Horst Rickels

Performers: Rollin Rachele, Mark van Tongeren

Light: Daphne van Tongeren

˚   Plantage Dok   ˚  Plantage Doklaan 8-12  ˚  Amsterdam   ˚   Thursday 1 juli 2010   ˚   22:00    ˚   free entrance

FORUM Interview about Thresholds of Audibility

There is an interview about my research for the University’s FORUM magazine, with some tracks of the Sphere album. You can read it here in Dutch:

and this is the English translation:

In The research of … Mark van Tongeren, doctoral student at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, tells about his research int new possibilities of multi-voiced overtone singing. “We are making audible a strange world of harmonies, that is hidden behind every word that we speak.”

Tell something about yourself, how did you arrive at this research topic?
For some twenty years now I am studying the foundations of sound, among others from (ethno)musicological and artistic perspectives. It all began with the question: what is sound colour? I tried to find answers to that question experimentally, because I thought something of the spectral analysis that we saw at acoustics classes must be retracable in our experience. After a little while I recognized in my voice specific resonances, so-called overtones, and I taught myself to sing in two voices. The unfamiliarity of the phenomenon of overtone singing taught me, as a musicology student, that this was an interesting area of study that I could help develop. I went to Tuva, in Siberia, in 1993, where the world’s best overtone singers live: in that time it was almost terra incognita for Westerners. Those fieldwork experiences raised my curiosity about the wider role of music and sound in society, vice versa. More research trips to Asia followed, and I wrote a book in which I assembled existing knowledge about overtone singing. Parallel to this I developed my vocal art and did theatre projects. Through my teaching post at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague I heard about the inauguration of the Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts. The combination of science and art has always attracted me, and now I can solve some burning issues as a PhD student.

Photo: Four Sardinians sing in Five Voices. Photo M. van Tongeren, Castelsardo, Sardinia, 2007.

Can you tell what the research programme is about? Which is the central question?
I discern two main themes in my research programme Overtone Singing and the Thresholds of Audibility: one concerns a niche within a niche of music, the other rethinks and articulates what that means for the way in which each human relates to the world acoustically. My starting point is the artistic research into new possibilities of multi-voiced overtone singing. In fact I am not doing more, but less than what already has been done: together with others I show the matrix that is the foundation of the singing voice, without frills. This is done with the help of Zero(points) (Nulpunten), a series of systematic sound structures in which fundamental tones and overtones ‘meet themselves’ as it were. We are making audible a strange world of harmonies, that is hidden behind every word that we speak. Everyone speaks with the help of overtones, but nobody hears them, because speech is founded upon strategic transformations in our perception. That is the reason, secondly, for a deeper investigation of reality and illusion of our auditory world. For example, overtone singing is often considered a spiritual phenomenon, despite the fact that it is founded upon a way of listening that could be called rather empirical or phenomenological.

On 0.29/3028 three singers execute a variant of  Zero(point) 29, which exists of an almost endless series of permutations. In a simialr fashion Parafonia has recorded hundreds of chords, rather systematically and without frills. A selection of the Zero(point)s, starting with 0.32, forms the artistic part of the PhD, and its leitmotiv. They are further approached from the viewpoint of science, philosohpy and belief.Listen: 0.29-3028 (mp3)

What are the most exciting parts of the project?
I am tempted to select the artistic part of my research, for which I founded my laboratory Parafonia, as the most exciting part. Without a doubt the vocal experiments, in which performance – and theatrical elements also play a role, are the driving force behind this project. Within that, the composition cycle Zero(points) takes a special place, because it is something that has never been done before, while in my view it deals with fundamental knowledge and skills in music and acoustics. It is interesting both artistically and conceptually. On the other hand, it is just as exciting to think about what is nót very specific about this obscure way of singing, but what this way of singing lays bare about acoustic reality as such. You hit upon fundamental illusions in our perception that are comparable, for example, to the gaping rift between the space-time of modern physics and that of our everyday experience.

What do you hope to achieve?
For the short term, until February 2010, I hope I will be able to write down my thoughts crystal clear and to record the sound likewise. These are important conditions to get my research across to people. It is my intention that singers, composers, and my group Parafonia do much more with this material. Apart from that, I am aiming at people who have an interest and passion for music, who want to satisfy their curiosity with sounds that, from a musical and aesthetic perspective, try to get to the essence of sound.

How do you like the life of a researcher at this faculty?
I find the wide scope of the Academy of the Performing and Creative Arts  in the international framework of docARTES very stimulating. The first two year every PhD student joins monthly meetings with other musicians and composers, to talk about the theory and philosophy of artistic research. Philosopher Marcel Cobussen and theoretician Henk Borgdorff have given many impulses for the development of the new area of artistic research, together with a host of international guests from the musical and scholarly world. That was rather intensive, and to some extent I now miss the frequent exchange of ideas. Here in Leiden I have the privilege to work in a beautiful building on the Rapenburg with excellent acoustics: we have recorded the best Zero(points) here, among others in the kitchen, and not in the chapel in The Hague where our new, audiophile Cd Sphere was recorded. Hopefully the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts remains in this building for a while so that we can continue to realize our crystal clear recordings in ideal acoustic conditions.

Forum, September 2009