sound-art

Sound piece for The Fear of Small Numbers

I recently sat down to create a contribution for Serge Onnen‘s exhibition, opening tomorrow at the Kunstfort in Vijfhuizen, called The Fear of Small Numbers. Among the exhibits is a record player for which visitors can change the speed. Our collective of sound makers Oorbeek (where I got to know Serge in the first place) recorded a contribution in the studio this Summer, while recording a new album, and a host of other performers (me included) were asked to contribute. The record contains all these short pieces, one after another, and as a listeners you can play them back as fast or slow as you like. An interesting challenge for which I produced the following short piece, which I think will sound good no matter how slow or fast it is played back. I looped the original track of 22 seconds several times to make it longer. And for lack of a turntable I give you the half and double speeds as a bonus.

 

 

 

 

Here is the whole blurb for the exhibition:

In the fortress Serge Onnen (FR / NL,
1965) constructs an alternative
economy. Hard numbers become
fluid and loose the definite meaning
as we know it. A roulette, a wheel of
fortune, rotoscopes, a phenakistiscope
and a LP spin at high speed.
A party of Chinese shadow puppets
plays a sudoku-like game and looks
with half an eye at Onnen’s newest
animation movie CLOACINAE (2017)*,
which is here shown for the first
time.
Onnen works with drawings and
pre-cinema techniques. He was a
resident at the Rijksakademie and
teaches at the Rietveld Academy.
Onnen lives alternately in Brussels
and Amsterdam.
With sound contributions by i.a.
Jaap Blonk, Li Daiguo, Dick el
Demasiado, Fred Kienhuis, Jonas
Ohlsson, Oorbeek, Yvo Sprey, Mark
van Tongeren and Mariana Ungureanu,
Simon Wald-Lasowski. *I.c.w.
Sverre Fredriksen.
Festive opening on Sunday,
October 14, 15.00 with the artist
present. Opening speech at 15.30,
followed by drinks and music by
DJ Marcelle / Another Nice Mess.
Also on show this Fall at the
Kunstfort:
• Charlott Weise – He at Sea
in the Genieloods.
• Interventions by Yin-Ju Chen,
Roderick Hietbrink, Rachel
de Joode, Lennart de Neef en
Micha Prinsen, Lonneke van
der Palen, Marius Schwarz,
Dan Walwin.
Save the date: Sunday, December
16, 15.00, finissage with Onnen’s
band OORBEEK.
Image © Serge Onnen
Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen is supported
by the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer
and the Mondriaan Fund.
Fortwachter 1, Vijfhuizen (NH)
www.kunstfort.nl
Tue–Sun 13–17 (Mon / Thu closed)
Check website for Holidays

Third installment of Nordic

Right now I am taking part in Ming-Hwa Yeh’s third version of a piece we began working on around August 2014. The resulting performance at that time was called Nordic and in its new version, Dreamin’ MoNTUE, it has become an installation with frequent live performances by Ming-Hwa, pianist A-Kwan and myself. Right now my appearances have mainly been for one visitor at an appointed time.

So far this is a very interesting experiment, where my previous role as a sort of wandering local spirit or genius loci and shaman, receives a more open-form performance component: I basically do whatever I fancy, from talking and singing to playing and just watching.

Performances last till early May and I will resume my participation after coming back from Shanghai next week.

Weblink to the Museum of National Taiwan University of Education.

Here are some of the first pictures.

Dada is Dead. Long live Dada!

It is 100 hundred years ago since the very first event signified the beginning of Dada, the powerful yet strangely obscure movement in recent art history. Dada will never become mainstream, but it had immense effects on many things that happened afterwards, ultimately resonating in popular culture. Rooted in fierce criticism of the political and cultural establishment, it was an intense exploration of new forms and a reshaping of old ones, mixed with a tremedous dose of absurdism and humor, naturally branching out across diverse disciplines such as poetry, prose and performing arts, theatre and fine art. To celebrate the centenary, the European culture/arts channel ARTE presents a documentary about Dada, which is available for online viewing only this week: I’ll give you the details after this story about how Dada continues to live on.

Schermafbeelding 2016-02-18 om 11.24.05

Dutch vocal performer Jaap Blonk is one of the artists with a busy schedule to celebrate Dada’s birthday. He is the performer of choice of one of they key works of the Dada movement, a poem existing of nothing but (mostly) meaningless syllables: the Ursonate. Some of us had the privilege to see Jaap Blonk perform a full version of Kurt Schwitters masterpiece, written between 1923 and 1932, in Taipei a few months back. It was a memorable event for many, since this form of radical sound poetry is relatively unknown in these quarters: many audience members were visibly impressed by Blonk’s unplugged, yet powerful and physical performance. I watched it from backstage, from where I could closely follow Blonk’s antics and the audience gazing. I could almost read the piece on their faces, which showed awe, fascination, puzzlement, laughter and many other expressions.

Blonk did the whole thing by heart. When I asked him how he managed to learn it, he explained that he didn’t learn it at all. In the early 1980s he just discovered the poem, he read it and later read it again, simply out of curiosity, without any intention to memorise or perform it. But then, since he knew it and some friends in his circle learned about it, he was asked several times to perform it. He got invitations to be the opening act of some punk or New Wave band in small local venues, with mixed results. In any case few people (if anyone) knew what this was all about, and sometimes he had to endure beer thrown at him. It was all part and parcel of the alternative music circuit at that time (and thereafter, I guess). To make a long story short: after a while he noticed he did not need the text anymore and whenever he was asked he would perform it, while at the same time he was more actively involved in playing and composing for the saxophone (which he played himself) and for the other musicians he played with.

Jaap Blonk’s true interest in the voice came to the foreground only later, and happened something like this, he told me: it was well after the time (the early 1980s) he began doing the Ursonate. So far, he did not so much perform Dada’s piéce de resistance, he rather just recited the text. But then one day he came home and played a record of Archie Shepp, the energetic free jazz sax player. He started to ‘play’ along with Shepp, using his voice, producing all kinds of noise, together with the musicians on the record. Some moments later he realised that the record had finished, while he was still going on. That moment turned out to be a revelation for him, he explained. He now discovered that he was better at trying out new techniques, sounds and noises with his voice than with his sax. Eventually Blonk lost interest in the sax. He said in October he did not play it anymore for twenty years now, and indeed, most people now know him as a vocal performer. He did many more interesting pieces from Dadists and others from before the middle of the twentieth century, as well as his own work, which shows traces of Dada but goes in many different directions.

But hey, here is a chance to go back to the source, check it out on ARTE. There is a French and a German version available (here in Taiwan, for some reason the French version says it does not play where I live; the German version works alright).
Für unse liebe Deutschsprachige Freunde empfehle ich die Deutsche Version.
http://creative.arte.tv/de/article/viva-dada

Pour notre chers amis Francophones je peux récommender cette version en Français.
http://creative.arte.tv/fr/article/viva-dada

And I wish all those who neither speak German nor French lots of fun watching the documentary through this link here. For you the whole program will be one big feast of unintelligible proclamations!
http://arte.tv/guide/en/?zone=world

Jaap Blonk at TIIF in Taiwan

Last night fellow Dutchman Jaap Blonk arrived in Taiwan for a couple of gigs and a workshop, as part of the first Taiwan International Improvised Music Festival. I have the honour to host him the first few days. Several local improvisers and I will share the stage with him, today in Hsinchu and Thursday in Taipei.

Holland'sBankroetDoorDada

Jaap is a composer and vocal artist, best known for his interpretation of Kurt Schwitter’s Ursonate, one of the founding – and lasting – classics of the Dada movement which shook the art world between 1916 and 1924. I first met Jaap in 1995, when we shared the stage at the presentation of a book about Dada in The Netherlands, Holland’s Bankroet door Dada.

Last night we discussed, among many other things, the merits of being born as a Dutch-speaker. To start with, this makes it easy to understand and correctly pronounce German texts, and texts derived from the sounds of German speech, like the Ursonate. Someone from, say, an English speaking country, would have much more trouble getting the pronunciation of all the vowels and diphtongs (two vowels combined) right, not to mention the consonants (the guttural ones are particularly notorious for foreign speakers). And growing up in a small country like The Netherlands, it is almost natural for us to learn to speak the languages of the surrounding countries, so that many Dutch speak (and know the particularities of the sounds of) German, English and French. In addition, Jaap noted, we have all the varieties of the ‘r’ sound (we have a guttural r, a softer and a harder ‘velar’ r, and an r with a flapping tongue). Jaap has incorporated many of these speech elements in his sound poetry, which is sometimes based on actual spoken language, sometimes on his own imaginary language, and also on abstract procedures based on or derived from speech, extending, finally, into various musical/sonic dimensions such as breath, shrieks, groans, etcetera. Besides composing and performing with these elements and developing a sizable body of original works, Jaap’s stage presence and inimitable mimicry has brought him world fame. His current tour in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Phillipines and Taiwan is the second one in Asia, after another tour he did in Japan last Summer.

ursonate_2003

He told me he had performed in Shanghai years ago at a poetry festival, where he was asked by the organisers to do something with a Chinese text. He studied the text with someone speaking Chinese, to get the sounds right. But then, when turning it into sound poetry and given the difficulties of the Chinese tone system for a speaker not used to a tonal language, the poem’s meaning came out completely different, possibly, Jaap explained, including many strange messages he was not aware of.

Besides, it is a different thing to deconstruct the elements of speech for a Westerner, whose understanding of speech sound is based on more or less phonetic writing, and for a Mandarin speaker, whose understanding of speech sound is based on Chinese character forming complete syllables – in fact, complete words. To create sound poetry à la Schwitters poses even bigger challenges for from Mandarin speakers than English speakers.

 

December 1, 19:30, concert of Jaap Blonk, with guest appearances of Lee Shih-Yang and Mark van Tongeren, National Chiao Tung University (Hsinchu),

December 2, 19:30-21:30. lecture/workshop with Jaap Blonk, Nanhai Gallery, No.3, Lane 19, Sec. 2, Chongcing S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei

December 3, 19:30-21:30, concert Jaap Blonk with Tung Chaoming, Lee Shih-Yang, Lin Hsiaofeng, Lin Huikuan, Liu Fangyi, Chang Yousheng, Terry, Mark van Tongeren. Nanhai Theater, No.47, Nanhai Rd., Zhongzheng Distict, Taipei

Tickets for the festival are here.

More information about the full program of the Taiwan International Improvised Music Festival is here.

TIIMF2015line-up

 

Sound Journey: Art of Listening

中文 (Facebook)

Meditations, contemplations and practices to get closer to yourself, to the body, to each other and to your surroundings. Listen with new ears to sound and silence. Explore the role of space and environment as sources for sound-making. Two days spent in the mountains to transform something you do all the time: a celebration of the ears!

Did you ever wonder why and how the world of sound can touch you so deeply? And what are the processes behind it? Did you believe your ears simply ‘register’ the sounds around you? Is it possible that you actually influence what you hear? Or can you learn from how others listen? Did you know there are many types of listeners and many ways of listening, such as holistic and analytical? Would you like to listen more actively, and ‘open your ears’ more? Can you ‘tune in’ yourself more to this world, or let this world attune to you? Do you want to let your ‘hearing’ become ‘listening’, and ‘listening’ become ‘understanding’?

During two days in the relative quietude of beautiful mountains in Hsinchu, we break through the habitual patterns of hearing so we can better perceive and understand the role of sound. This workshop is an opportunity to ‘hear yourself hear’ in new ways, and to reconsider what sound and music mean to you, also in everyday life.

The answers we find will be contemplated, imagined, sung, and expressed in words. We strike a neat balance between the verbal and non-verbal, the silent and the resonant, the action and the … passion. Leave the rattle and hum of everyday city life behind – celebrate the ears!

Program for these two days:
MORNINGS
Morning rituals: listen, awaken our ears, sensing the body, feeling the voice.
Do concrete exercises to transform the way we listen, through meditations, listening outside, making sounds together.
Explore spaces using only the ears.

AFTERNOONS
Listen to essential examples of ‘silent music’.
Find out what type of listener you are, learn about other ‘listening cultures’ and develop an active attitude towards your auditory perception.
Collaboratively create music with ‘sound objects’.
Talk about listening as a way to understand the world: to deeply attune our self to the vibrations surrounding us and emitted by us.
Listen to the many sounds of silence.


EVENING
Some good music? Make some noise? Some star-gazing? Good food!

IMG_6230horVanTongerenMED

FOR WHOM:  Individuals interested in sound, music and contemplation; creative, health and spiritual professionals seeking to deepen their skills and understanding in the field of sound, vibration and awareness.
Language: English (with Chinese translation)
Date/Time: Sat. October 31 (10 AM) + Sun. November 1 (17 PM)
Place: Rainbow Mountain, Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County
Price: 6500 NT$
Includes: Local transport to/from station; lodging 1 night; 4 meals (lunch-diner-breakfast-lunch). We prepare some of the food ourselves. Let us know if you are into making delicious food!
Discounts: students 20% (bring your ID)
Participants: (min.) 8 – 15 (max.).

INFO/REGISTRATION
Interested? Get more inquiries from Mark (info@fusica.nl) or Yvonne (chichenlyv@gmail.com) or just register and we’ll send you the payment details. Call us at 0910382749 (Mark) / 0933178272 (Yvonne).

English (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/events/799189793559487/
中文 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/510524165782076/

Next voice class: Voice Yoga. http://www.fusica.nl/events/
Previous workshop: Jew’s harp. http://www.fusica.nl/workshop-learn-to-play-the-jews-harp/

DSC00592VanTongerenMED

Upcoming events

Weekly Voice Yoga Returns to Canjune Training Centre

March 15: Underground Trip (performance)

March 29: Lacking Sound Festival (performance)

Voice workshop for spring 2014: coming up soon

VoiceYoga3

This week Voice Yoga returns to Canjune’s Training Centre. Everyone is welcome to try out Voice Yoga on Thursdays between 10 and twelve. No registration necessary, but please be on time. Next week (March 20) the class will shift to the afternoon, between 14 and 16. Read the details about Voice Yoga in this blogpost.

undergroundtrip

Saturday March 15 you are invited to the performance Underground Trip with Serge Onnen, Erika Sprey (visuals), Tung Chao-Ming and myself (sounds) at Taipei Artist Village. There are two shows, at 19:30 and 21:30, please find the details in my previous blogpost.

Screen shot 2014-03-11 at 10.46.11

Saturday March 29 I am invited to perform at the Lacking Sound Festival, which is one of the more interesting on-going sound events in Taipei. Serge Onnen will join me to provide visuals, and we will explore the theme of mirrors. More details in this post.

Soon I will announce some workshops for this spring season. Come check back here or subscribe to this blog. If you prefer to receive emails write to < info  at  fusica   dot   nl> and you will receive updates every once in a while.

Lacking Sound Festival: March 29

Screen shot 2014-03-11 at 10.46.11

I am excited about this invitation for the Lacking Sound Festival, a mostly-monthly event currently held in the Digital Arts Centre in Taipei, to be precise in the Noise Kitchen. This meeting point for sound-art-buffs is a wonderful space with various ingenious instruments that can be played – reminding me more of a Museum of Musical Machines in the Netherlands than a 21st century Digital Arts site. Anyway, I have invited Serge Onnen to join me in creating something analog that sounds and feels digital  (and quite different from the Cloacinae sound-shadow-video performance we do/did the 15th of March). Both of us favor the kind of old-fashioned manual-vocal-labour forms of artistic expression, but then, we do use computers, digital recorders and the occasional effects apparatus to manipulate our creations. So here is the press-blurb:

Mirroring
Mark van Tongeren (sound) and Serge Onnen (image) dissect our everyday perception, enlarging our ordinary vision and audition to include the unseen and unheard. Mirrors, opposites and negatives of our everyday sense world.

Mark van Tongeren is currently fascinated by the voice as an instrument producing numbers, namely, the strict numerical ratios of overtones. When this is made audible through the technique of overtone singing, the voice almost loses its human identity: its sounds seem like pure sine waves. Digits, that is, whole numbers or whole-number ratios could be considered the DNA of our voice. In this installment of his theme The Digital & The Vocal, Mark offers an electro-acoustic performance where the distinctions between the digital and the vocal are blurred. Environmental recordings, extended vocal techniques, Jew’s harps and a Kaosspad further link the physical, everyday world with the digital, and the archaic with the hypermodern.
Artist Serge Onnen, currently holding a solo exhibition at MOCA Taipei, simultaneously provides a live visual performance. He will mainly use mirrors: echo’s of images, stretching the reflection, face reality,  double the sight and confront the audience with their image.

vantongeren x onnen

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:

IMG_3788

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.
Link: http://oorsprong.wordpress.com/

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: http://www.mediamatic.net/357851/en/echokamer-12-superstringtrio

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: http://vimeo.com/64866998. For the full program of the festival, which has already started yesterday and continues next week, check this link: http://www.audio.art.pl/
(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,
Link: http://www.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/nieuwnew

Hope to see you somewhere!

Best wishes,

mark van tongeren