I was asked by my dear friends Jos Smolders and Frans de Waard to join them for a conversation about my work in their podcast Thursday Afternoon Talks.
Chess-based musical composition and compositional techniques
With this project I want to develop new compositions and compositional techniques based on John Cage’s ‘Reunion’ – a performance in which the game of chess determines the form and spatial positioning of a musical event. In 1968, Cage played a game of chess with Marcel Duchamp at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto, Canada, using a chessboard designed by Lowell Cross. This concept is further developed in my project. A specially developed chess board allows me to use the chess game and board itself as a compositional tool. My new compositions would work with famous chess games as the score and develop a new compositional language with this ‘chess notation’.
In the original piece, John Cage used live material played by David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, and David Tudor as the sound source. I would like to keep this idea of collaborative process in a musical work in my compositions to work with other composers/performers as well. Especially after the Corona-influenced time of isolation, where we all felt a form of loneliness and a lack of connection, I see this project as an ideal opportunity to reconnect with other artists in a playful way and to develop creative processes together. The project idea thus produces several works, characterized by collaborative processes and specific chess games.
This project is supported by MUSIKFONDS within the framework of the NEUSTART KULTUR STIP-II program 2022.
2021 – 2022
Arctic Survey Music
Wouter Jaspers’ work Arctic Survey Music focusses on disturbances in the higher regions of the ionosphere and beyond, translating the bare sounds of nature into chance-composed music. Every electromagnetic disturbance, the position of the moon and lightning strike creates a radio pulse that can travel thousands of kilometers, bouncing between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere. This radio energy can be translated into sound by sensitive audio amplifiers and short antennas. They inherit audible artefacts of their electromagnetic journey, and these “sferics”, “tweaks” and “whistlers” have excellent musical merit. Natural radio sounds completely different than an urban man made radio environment. Jaspers’ filters all man-made sounds out and captures the radio waves emitted by the planet, its weather and the universe, translating it into music via a large antenna array. He will present this in a performative installation and will invite the audience to discover these sounds first-hand in a special workshop before and after the performance.
This project was made possible by the Berlin Senat within the framework of the Arbeitsstipendien Ernste Musik und Klangkunst 2021.