biography | construction of instruments | noise | sound | composition | sculpture | timeline

catalog 'Urban Rituals, The Sound Artist Christof Schläger'
IV. Komposition

Christof Schläger has found inspiration in both the noises of the modern world and the work of contemporary artists and composers. He is particularly fascinated by the work of Conlon Nancarrow, who uses mechanical pianos in order to bring extremely fast, highly complex rhythmical structures to sound. But he is also excited about Mauricio Kagel's concept of instrumental theater, which puts the action of making music as a scenic element into the foreground. In 1982, Schläger bought a record with pieces by Luc Ferrari who used recordings of different noise worlds in his compositions, and in 2003, he performed with Ferrari in a concert in Herne. The composer Trimpin's installations with self-designed sound generators and sculptor Jean Tinguely's colorful, self-destructing kinetic machines have also influenced his work. Christof Schläger conceives these art phenomena as a spiritual cloud that has moved him forward and influenced his compositions.

Composition Draws: 'Planetengetriebe', 'Perlenkette' und 'Häuser'

Schläger's compositions are distinguished superficially by a concise percussive aspect that supports the technical quality of the sound and makes reference to machine rhythms, while going far beyond them. Its origin lies within a musical gesture in minimal music to which the artist feels a great affinity. Here repetitive structures dominate the music, they are isolated and edited linearly. Slight variations in their interior structure occasionally cause small changes, which lead to new combinations and processes. Much is reminiscent of design principles of music styles such as Hip-hop or Techno, where individual sound elements are strung together and layered and result in more or less complex, rhythmically interlaced aural architecture. Schläger uses graphic models for the generation of such complex sequences and layerings. For example he draws a series of rollers of different sizes, which are painted with patterns and which revolve against each other. In the process the patterns repeat, but always in new combinations. Other drawings show cogs adorned with symbols of various sizes. They intertwine in various arrangements and generate complex structures of symbols, which constantly change.

Composition Draws: 'Gebetsmühlen', und 'Paternosterhaus'

In 2007, it became even more complex when Schläger began to work with ship's horns in exterior spaces sounding them in areas of square kilometers within the landscape by placing several groups of the horns at a distance from each other, and aligning the fixed sites with mobile positions on trains or ships. Because of the low sound velocity of 343.46 meters per second at a temperature of 20º Celsius [68ºF] in dry air, time plays an important role. Depending on the location of the listener, while the sound from one group of horns may be heard immediately, up to two seconds may pass before the sound emitted from a more distant group is heard. The tonal sequences of the ship's horn groups from various points in the performance area blend in different ways and the tonal combinations experienced depends on the position of a listener in relation to the horn group. The reception of the horn tone is also affected by objects in its path, such as high buildings for example, and its encounter with such obstacles and the elements existing in the space itself will contribute to the evolving piece and inevitably change the timbre of the sound that the listener ultimately hears. This music has a three-dimensional nature, through the fact that the sounds reach the listener from several directions. The delicately woven timbres that develop in the exterior spaces spread as an acoustic ambiance over the landscape and form an interactive relationship with other sounds and noises that are integral to the landscape.

Source: Urban Rituals, The Sound Artist Christof Schläger. Verlag Hanno Ehrler, 2016

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