Networked_Music_Review

Live Stage: Jack Ox | Kurt Schwitters Ursonate [us NM]

[Jack Ox, Ursonate, CAC, New Orleans 2004] Jack Ox’s Visualization of Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate :: Exhibition: September 16 – October 28, 2011 :: Performance: September 17; 2:00 pm with Kristen Loree performing the Ursonate and digital projections by Jack Ox :: Mesa Library Gallery, 2400 Central Ave, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA with live-streaming to Cumbria, England. Register here.

Ursonate is part of The Next Big Idea Festival, with Jack Ox and Kristen Loree as artists-in-residence: The exhibition of Jack Ox’s 800 Sq.ft. hand-painted, hand-collaged visualization of Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate opens September 16 at 4:00 pm at the Mesa Gallery. The performance by Kristen Loree speaking, shouting, and singing the Ursonate will be on Sept. 17 at 2:00 pm in Bradbury Science Museum. Ox’s digital projection of the syllables from the painting will accompany Loree’s performance.

The performance will be streamed live to the Merz Barn in Elterwater, Cumbria, NW England. Florian Kaplick will stream his performance back to Los Alamos. Thank you to LITTORAL for arranging our back and forth streaming of Ursonate performances!

Schwitters’ own comments:

‘The Sonata consists of four movements, of an overture and a finale, and seventhly, of a cadenza in the fourth movement. The first movement is a rondo with four main themes, designated as such in the text of the Sonata. You yourself will certainly feel the rhythm, slack or strong, high or low, taut or loose. To explain in detail the variations and compositions of the themes would be tiresome in the end and detrimental to the pleasure of reading and listening, and after all I’m not a professor.’

‘In the first movement I draw your attention to the word for word repeats of the themes before each variation, to the explosive beginning of the first movement, to the pure lyricism of the sung ‘Jüü-Kaa,’ to the military severity of the rhythm of the quite masculine third theme next to the fourth theme which is tremulous and mild as a lamb, and lastly to the accusing finale of the first movement, with the question ‘tää?’…’

The fourth movement, long-running and quick, comes as a good exercise for the reader’s lungs, in particular because the endless repeats, if they are not to seem too uniform, require the voice to be seriously raised most of the time. In the finale I draw your attention to the deliberate return of the alphabet up to a. You feel it coming and expect the a impatiently. But twice over it stops painfully on the b…’

‘I do no more than offer a possibility for a solo voice with maybe not much imagination. I myself give a different cadenza each time and, since I recite it entirely by heart, I thereby get the cadenza to produce a very lively effect, forming a sharp contrast with the rest of the Sonata which is quite rigid. There.’
‘The letters applied are to be pronounced as in German. A single vowel sound is short… Letters, of course, give only a rather incomplete score of the spoken sonata. As with any printed music, many interpretations are possible. As with any other reading, correct reading requires the use of imagination. The reader himself has to work seriously to become a genuine reader. Thus, it is work rather than questions or mindless criticism which will improve the reader’s receptive capacities. The right of criticism is reserved to those who have achieved a full understanding. Listening to the sonata is better than reading it. This is why I like to perform my sonata in public.’


Sep 10, 2011
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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