Some thoughts about listening in these confined moments…

My time in Birmingham twenty years ago, working towards the Ph.D. with Jonty Harrison, was an extraordinary period in my creative life. After composing already for many years, it was a chance to get again very detailed feedback, and to learn more and think more in-depth about the impact of interpretation in acousmatic music. As for many of us, working with spaces is a central aspect of my explorations, during the compositional process, as well as while performing on multi-loudspeaker instruments.

The interpretation aspect needs to wait until the next time we can physically meet in the same room. But I tried to remix the two works with binaural ambisonics to give you some spatial experience – even without the room and the real Beast.

Three years ago, I wrote a short text on listening. These ideas did not lose any of their significance; the contrary, they seem to be even more fitting right now, while many of us can only appreciate music through headphones:

‘Sometimes, we are asked about our ‘ideal listener.’

For years, I have been thinking about a listener who is curious about this world, its cultures, and people. Someone who likes to travel to unknown places – even if just mentally. Lately, another aspect became important: the listener should set time apart for listening as a dedicated act. This is, of course, best achieved in a concert situation, where music is not an acoustic curtain to other daily activities, but a community of interested people shares the listening moment. But it can also be experienced with a CD and a good pair of speakers – or better headphones.

Listening as a ritual – without doing anything else – just diving into the sound world and letting all inner images and imaginations flow.

My music uses recorded sounds from many sources and continents and melts them into new shapes, energies, and stories. I’m thinking a lot about ‘elements’ and ‘context.’ A recorded sound from the world was taken from its natural-sounding context. Let’s say I’m recording a voice in the street. I don’t only get the voice, but also other sounds happening in its surroundings.

My work as a composer is to recompose an imaginary sound context into which these ‘elements’ can be placed. Therefore, I’m often cleaning the sounds of their original context to make them more ‘neutral.’ This happens through all kinds of computer processing and transformations.

I’m obtaining new elements, combine them with others, which took place at different times and in different surroundings. In this new, imagined context, I’m creating relationships that were not obvious or impossible in reality.

To recognize the source of a sound holds a powerful meaning in electroacoustic music, and I’m trying to work with it while composing a broad spectrum between reality and abstraction.

Subjectivity and objectivity are very relative to me as well, as they depend very much on the listener’s education, culture, expectations, etc. I can only judge from my listening and knowledge. Something taken for granted in central Europe might not trigger the same sense of ‘obvious’ to an Asian audience.

The two compositions, Remembering Japan – part one and Issho ni place the human voice into the center of an imaginary and utopian soundscape. I’m not recreating existing rituals. I’m shaping sounds into listening experiences, which suggest that something is about to be celebrated. But we are not familiar with all the details of its meanings and implications.

We attend it; we are invited to share the moment and hopefully listen with curiosity.

I’m wishing us all inspiring moments during this year’s BEAST FEaST and hope for critical and creative exchanges, even without coming to Birmingham.

Very best, Hans

Hans Tutschku, April 2020