Luftschlösser im Bau (2007) for 10 musicians, 7 castles in the air structures and electronics
written for the music theatre Wanderland
commissioned by the Festival Klangwerkstatt
This piece is written for soprano, baritone, three clarinets, two trumpets, a trombone, two accordeons and seven loudspeaker sculptures. In this description I will focus on the loudspeaker use in this piece and not on the parts played by the conventional musical instruments. The loudspeaker objects are used in the musical theatre piece as references to unfinished castles in the air. They are white, fluffy, and unformed objects, hanging from the balconies of the theatre, not resembling castles at all. During the performance, these objects start to sound and vibrate.
I used loudspeakers—so-called “subwoofers”—that are constructed especially for the production of low frequencies. By sending sine tones between 3 and 16 hertz through the loudspeakers, their membranes will—evidently—vibrate at this frequency. I hung a white plastic tarpaulin on top of these loudspeakers, which can be brought into vibration by the loudspeaker membrane. Depending on the type of electronic sound, the plastic tarpaulin will make noise: low and loud frequencies are normally only perceptible as the movement of a loudspeaker membrane, but in this case, the loudspeaker membrane “played” the tarpaulin. When higher frequencies are played through the loudspeakers, the tarpaulin will remain silent. Similar to the set-ups used in, for example, Rainforest by David Tudor and Windy Gong by Ute Wassermann, the reaction of the material is very much dependent on the spectral characteristics of sound emitted by the loudspeaker. The material parameter, as discussed in chapter 4, is one of the main elements of the compositions. Besides, the vibrations of the loudspeaker become visually perceivable as well.