Tag Archives: Sound Art

DIe kleinere Verpuffung

Warum Frankfurts Stadtteil Fechenheim früher 56 Vereine hatte, weshalb die dortige Hühnerfarm keine ist und was es sonst mit kleineren Verpuffungen so auf sich hat, das weiß alles Harry Hoppe.

hr 2019 | 35 Min. | Erstsendung
[“A Smaller Deflagration”: Translation not available]

1950 zugezogen als “Eingeplackter”, betätigt er sich in Fechenheim seitdem als Berater, Seniorensicherheitsbeauftragter, Blumengießer, Vereinsgründer und vieles mehr. Die in Berlin lebende Performerin und Radiomacherin Gabi Schaffner, 1965 in Frankfurt geboren und in Fechenheim aufgewachsen, lässt in ihrem Hessen-Hören-Stück den Klang ihrer ersten Heimat vor allem durch Harry Hoppe erzählen, ummantelt, über- und untermalt durch Vor-Ort-Geräusche. Der Dank der Autorin gilt: Harald Hoppe, Richard Schaffner, dem Verein Vereinigte Geflügelzüchter 1897 und dem Tierschutzverein Frankfurt und Umgebung von 1841.

Sendung: hr2-kultur, The Artist’s Corner, 11.01.2020, 23:00 Uhr.

Night Gardening I-III

The night is, far more than the day, a sphere of transmission. Fragrances and odours are perceived more strongly, the ear is sharpened, the superiority of the visual recedes.
Since its inception, Datscha Radio has paid special attention to the night. In the three-part event series NACHTGÄRTNERN [NIGHT GARDENING], Datscha Radio intends to fill the living space of the night in a synaesthetic and radiophonic way. Each station is located in a different garden in Berlin. We will broadcast live, from exactly sunset to sunrise. (Depending upon transmission date, the transmitting time will vary).

I The Night of the Nightingales (April 30th) Datscha Radio explores the essence of the night on the first evening with a focus on the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos). April 30th, 20.32 – 5:33, May 1st, 2019.
II Frequencies and Fragrances ( (August 8th) Datscha Radio will take one step further in its radio-sensory exploration of the nightly garden. How may scents translate into radio? August 8th, 20:46 – 5:39, August 9th
III Night Walks, Rituals and Ceremonies ( (October) 21st of October, 5:57 pm – 22nd of October 7:45 am.
Uneven ground, restricted view, in the truest sense of the word unforeseen obstacles: Walking in the dark activates different abilities of our senses and physics. Body boundaries shift and expand, and with them also thinking and imagination go new ways…

The Madness Of The Documentarist

“The Madness” accompanies me since 2006 when I wrote it on request of the Frankfurt label Gruenrekorder. A handmade three-lingual edition was published on occasion of a presentation at the Titanik Gallery in Turku, Finland (“Through the Grapewine”, 2011). In 2015 it was accepted by Soundproof/ABC Australia for a perfected production and broadcast in 2016.

Excerpt:
Any documentarist must either be mad or go mad while pursuing her work. It might be very well to embark on a journey, but carrying along technical devices for the purpose of documentation is sometimes presumptuous and can lead you into the quagmire of self-humiliation, too. Not that it would be a question of falsehood, which is inevitably attached to any object of objectivity. But isn’t documentation, generally speaking, a kind of theft? Isn’t it like stealing from time? And, what’s more, isn’t it done in a more than awkward fashion considering the value of that which is documented? With regards to the total inadequacy of human perception, the question arises as to whether or not the obsessive pursuit of a particular goal must automatically leads to insanity. But a documentarist must turn mad just at the moment he or she realizes that something wonderful is happening… the videotape is at its end, the pencil broken, the aperture wrongly adjusted or simply the battery is dead. It has happened to many, but few have put it in writing: The failure of the ethnographer right in the middle of things. Compared to the total triumph that results from having captured something absolutely unique; something precious; the authentic copy of a stretch of time. The DNA of reality, a sequence of real-time. Holy real-time, mantra of the field-recordists. Lost! Lost!

Technical Failure 1: The Handsome Young Man
The minidisk recorder failed for the first time on a Sunday morning, 7th of July, on the occasion of a bus trip into a neighbouring village (which had been organized for journalists and interested individuals by the festival board). The bus stopped in front of a vestry equipped with a wooden stage and rows of chairs. The backdrop of the stage was adorned with a Finnish landscape painting in sparkling green and blue; cloudlets in the sky and a little brook. We were introduced to: the village choir, the music teacher (being prominently seated next to the piano), some little nippers with violin and accordion at a tender age ranging from five to seven years, and a handful of young talents from the vicinity. Now there was an exception, a boy of maybe 16 years who, when you just looked at him, caused something in your heart to tremble. This, as far as I could see, was due to the delicate features and lines around his mouth which was straight but still the most mobile part of his face. His accordion-playing was without question first class, and consisted of only two short pieces. Each single tone, each note appeared as an innermost expression in his face and only after that were they emitted as sound from the instrument. Naturally, such an instance happens much too fast to perceive and name it consciously – only by memory can one slow it down and retrieve it in fragments. I had put the broken machine aside and was totally absorbed in this much too short contemplation. His face remained, while he played, perfectly naked and sensitive, but so deeply immersed as to be unreachable.

Deleted No. 1. Eero Peltonen sings the “Song of the Happy Squirrel”
Did I talk about the aura of technical disaster in the beginning? Well, now my head is again veiled by a dark cloud, quite similar to a mosquito-cloud and I am being heavily pestered by the vile, derisive hum of failure in my ears. Beform my inner eye: visualizations of finger tips on wrong buttons, the fall of technical devices from tables and rocks, malfunctions of in- and outputs, and in between, the gaping black gorge of forgetfulness. Therefore, it is now time for Laulu Oravasta the “Song of the Happy Squirrel”: A squirrel sits in its cove high up in a tree and it looks down onto the world. But all it sees is death and murder and other evil things happening on earth. The squirre| is very frightened, but then it looks another way. Right before its nose, the tree stretches a big branch out into the open air, green and green with rustling leaves. Just like a beautiful big flag, thinks the squirrel and continues watching the swaying branch. By now, the whole tree has started to sway, and the squirrel feels warm and comfy. The trees rocks the squirrel in ivs cove like a mother rocks her baby to sleep. All the trees of the forest move with the wind and the whispering of the leaves makes the forest sound like a kantele, Metsän kantele, the kantele of the forest. At the end, it looks up through all the leaves and branches into the sky. Birds are floating in a huge flock through the blue, singing. And the squirrel feels very happy.
The song is a famous poem by Aleksis Kivi, the first Finnish writer who dared in 1870 to publish a novel in his mother tongue (and not in the formerly prescribed official language that was Swedish). Eero says, of course everybody would talk about Kivi’s novel „The Seven Brothers“, but his songs would also be very beautiful. The squirrel song has a rather simple melody; at the end of each verse, Eeros voice comes down to a deep bariton, vibrating on a single tone and then starting anew. The song ends very low somewhere in the bass notes – and that was the moment I started to cry. Heart of wax, perhaps, who could tell.


HIdden Places


Narrated landscapes in Iceland and Australia
Commissioned by Deutschlandfunk Kultur 2016. Composition and text.
Phonurgia Nova Fieldrecording Award 2016: Honorable Mention.

Hidden Places is a cluster of 18 compositions centered on the idea of “wilderness” descriptions from Iceland and Australia.

The concept of landscape is manmade, and it is predominantly Western culture that defines our notion of nature. As a free form poetic quest Hidden Places examines the ways how this is done and it does so by asking people for their stories.


Music4Trains

Everyone knows trains. They take you from A to B. And possibly back.
The train is a myth, not only as a means of transportation, but also as a reinvention of the concepts of time and speed. A train can also be considered as a narrative – with an open end and an open beginning. In between: a time-stream filled with acoustic imagery.

Kunstfrühling Bremen 2014. Galerie Herold.
Gabi Schaffner: Music4Trains – Installation and performance with Ansgar Wilken; Installation and intervention: The Fado Hour
Kuratiert von: Marion Bösen
Installation: 4 CD players, 64 Speakers in 4 clusters
Performance: with Ansgar Wilken (Cello)
Vinyl-Edition: 10 copies. Dubplate & handprinted cover.
Price 120 Euro (1 left)

In Music4Trains, the acoustic qualities of environmental, accidental sounds are used as musical elements. In turn, selected samples from the canon of modern composition got freed from their original structure and shred down to fragments of noise. I did so to show my appreciation for work already done in the field of “locomotive music”. At the same time, this rather casual choice reflects the thorough omission of another thousand of musical works done on trains.
The ‘classic’ fragments were spliced, looped, speeded up or down, hacked into, turned over or reversed, until they turned into an acoustic debris not unlike the stuff you find in the trackbeds between the blackish grid and those patches of sturdy, uncompromising vegetation.
Conversations, phone calls on platforms, loudspeaker announcements, children’s screams, the sticky scent of human presence. A violin played at Hauptwache Frankfurt, an opera singer practising in an underpass somewhere in New Zealand, Hamburg’s main station anti-junky classic muzak, freight trains passing through Bremen and Gießen stations, Polish workers taking their leave from Berlin. I have been travelling u-tube videos, sampling away on Hungarian passenger trains and on the archives of freesound.org. And I taped this sad and furious old lady on a train to Vienna.

I am in love with breaches, flaws, mistakes, gaps and of course: noise. All of this connect us to the intangible fleeting beauty of our daily lives that are made up of noises, sounds and an all-pervading music.
More unused field recordings of trains and stations rumble about on my hard drives, shifting there like restless sleepers in their digital trackbeds. These four pieces are what came into being for now. Anything more you’ll have to make up yourself.