Three years ago, Hans Fidom from the Orgelpark asked me to share my ideas with him about a new console in the Orgelpark, which would control a new Baroque organ, as well as the existing Sauer organ from 1922, using software by SINUA. We discussed a great deal for many long hours, many days, some trips, etc... Hans never became tired... He drives a Mercedes from 1987… He is a Mercedes from 1967...
So here we are in March 2018.
My dream instrument has been realized in the Orgelpark, and for weeks I’ve been getting up early morning, in order to spend a few hours every day experimenting with this instrument, before organ builders, painters or whoever else arrives.
The result is astounding. The basic sound-producing material is an existing array of pipes from the early 20th century, plus a reconstructed 18th-century palette of sounds. With the specially developed SINUA software I can control the behaviour of this acoustic material in space, by organ stop, even by individual pipe. It is a sound installation, but without speakers. Better than any you’ll ever find, tailor-made for this space, based on many centuries of sound design with wood and metal. Subwoofers, mid-range speakers and top-end tweeters – Pedal, Great, Choir. And all of this is controllable via a new console as a mixing desk. The space of the Orgelpark, a former church, has become a cathedral-like music studio, where as a composer you can sculpt sound in space very precisely. You are able to influence the acoustic effect of the sound palette, by placing series of notes and individual notes in space in a new way, by supplying more or less wind, longer or shorter. I imagine I’m a sound engineer, the conductor of a huge orchestra. You, slightly louder… You slightly softer… a bit more pizzicato… slightly more legato... Until it fits the space to perfection.
In modern-day organ building, as with the Utopa Baroque Organ at the Orgelpark, organist and assistant (registrant) can be replaced by a computer. I’m a firm believer in the intuitive interaction between player and instrument, and between organist and assistant. I’m inspired by parallels between sport and music, most especially the teamwork or interplay in sport. In 2010, when speed skater Sven Kramer switched to the wrong lane during an Olympic race on the instructions of his coach, it was a defeat in terms of sport, but as an epic event it was a win. The small imperfection, the failure, becomes something grand against the background of perfection. In improvised music I’m aware that the fellow performer can sometimes get ‘stuck’ in a place in the acoustic spectrum where you would prefer not be. But then unexpected things can arise, if you take the time and dare to persist. The score for Liquid makes allowance for this. It can be performed by two people, with the assistant assuming the role of a full-blown player, actively influencing, moulding and liquefying the sound.
The tonal content of the composition is just a sketch-like outline. The score is a guidebook, something like operating instructions. Sound is what counts; notes are subordinate and shape themselves into sound, to the taste of the performer. The notes are ultimately the personal choice of the organist who performs the piece. However, he plays within a composed field of sounds. Solo, or in conjunction with his assistant. And for the premiere, I am that assistant myself.
- The title of the composition I am creating for the hyperorgan, Liquid, is also connected with a term that was coined by the German organist Ansgar Wallenhorst: ‘Fluid Organ’, whereby the stops, and individual pipes, can be employed flexibly on any desired manual.