Show programme by:
Sunday 24 February
20:00 - 21:00
Rundfunk Empfangssaal • Rundfunk Empfangssaal • Rundfunk Empfangssaal • Rundfunk Empfangssaa
Environmental radio music for extreme long waves
For one large dipole antenna, loop antennas, long wave receivers, laptops, two plasma loudspeakers (sonArcs) and a full range sound system.
When Heinrich Hertz saw sparks firing between the ends of a looped wire during an experiment in his darkened laboratory, and thereby realising an electromagnetic wave, as theorised by Maxwell, he had no idea for a purpose of this discovery. It was however only nine years later that morse code was ‘sparked’ around, and just some more years that music was transmitted by means of the spark-gap.
Radio primarily developed as a live medium. While transmitters were further developed and the power of these increased, special radio halls were developed to merge the acoustic and symphonic sound of a whole orchestra and to translate it into electromagnetic waves. The electromagnetic waves carried the sound from the live performance with the speed of light through the aether into the receiver’s private listening room. These radio halls were designed in a way that the sounds of the instruments reflected and are highly diffused within the reverb time of around two seconds. The direct sound of the instruments contributes to only 5% of the transmitted signal. Nowadays the sound from the individual sources isn’t mixed in the acoustic space but in audio mixers or computer software, and the radio hall is seen as something unsuitable for electroacoustic, contemporary produced and reproduced music.
Rundfunk Empfangssaal inverts the idea of the radio hall. Edwin van der Heide and Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag take the signals in the electromagnetic space embodied by the concert hall as source material for their performance. Natural radio signals and transmitted long wave signals up to about 150kHz that traverse the performance space are received and translated into a tangible space of acoustically audible signals. When John Cage first introduced the radio in Imaginary Landscapes, and later in Radio Music, his main interest laid in the live-moment, the unexpected and unpredictable combination of concurrently transmitted (and received) sounds. While the unexpected is always part of the performance, van der Heide and Sonntag navigate, steer and combine the different signals and, contrary to Cage’s approach, shape the unpredictable.
Extremely low frequency radio waves contain signals of fields of lightning and natural disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field. These signals are intersected by the electromagnetic smog of the city, which comes from electricity cables, motors, et cetera, and by transmitted signals from long wave transmitters of, for example, submarines. These kilometer long waves traverse the performance space of Rundfunk Empfangssaal. The reason for the German title of the piece is the origin of radio transmission that is captured in the poetic term: ‘Rund-Funk’.