KU

2010

KU is a live project within a sequel of works that document research about aesthetic scenarios all dealing with the idea of a homogeneous audiovisual matter consisting of moving visual textures, spatial sound and pulsating light.

KU is unique in each performance because its sonic key element is the sound of a pipe organ and the reverberation shell of the performance space, which is different in each venue.

The sound of a pipe organ is of un-compromised analogue warmth and richness and exquisite sonic depth. Each instrument is unique in its sonic capacity and dedicated resonant body, which is the venue for which it was build.

However, compared to most other mechanic instruments, the performance concept of a pipe organ is significantly limited. The build up of a sound is a totally pre-constructed event that is embedded in the mechanical construction of the pipe and the wind to be released into it

The player is left with the option of “trigger sound creation” and “stop sound creation”, a situation that doesn’t change even with MIDI boosted organs; a few exist. It is surprisingly a stiff digital preset concept, colour your melody with “cool” sounds.

This fundamental limitation goes far below the sonic interactivity of even most simple instruments such as a wood stick. Instead the Instrument is build a an array of non velocity swnsitive keyboards and recall buttons (stops) in order to access myriads of fine tuned aero-phones in a one scale system. Nevertheless pipe-organs are capable of producing the rich sound textures, the most complex found in a mechanical instrument : a meta instrument. The way to modulate sound in an aero-phone is to modulate the air. This will affect the initial build, stability, pitch, volume and spectral characteristics of the sound.

There are ways to influence air-supply in an organ.

  • to reduce the overall amount of air by inserting a potentiometer into the electric circuit of the air-pump

  • to only partially pull the stops in case they are still mechanical

(for the ability of a fully programmable recall nowadays stops are often not directly accessible anymore which supports my argument that the organ is designed as a super playback device only. The aim for instant sound recall has eradicated one last possible modulation.The reason is simple. It is considered a problem to fix for the aim of faster colour change rather than an opportunity for subtle intervention)

Stacking various thin flutes could be considered a kind of mechanical additive synthesis. This option is always available and thanks to the quality of mechanical sound creation very rewarding indeed.

Another efficient way of re-designing the sound of the pipe organ is the use of electronically produced exact sinus waves. Since sinus-waves are single tones, they don’t necessarily appear as another sound in the already diversified complexity of the pipe-sound-mix but function as a modulation source. Albeit modulation cant happen within the instrument it can still happen during travelling of sound from the pipe before arriving at the eardrum. The amplitude-modulation in the air of the space where the waves from speakers and pipes mix restructures the sonic field fundamentally into a feverish pulsating sonic matter.

 

premiere

duration

format 

projection

display

light

sound

production

co-production

2011 — TONLAGEN Festival, Dresden

50 minutes

3D (passive)

2 x 1920x1080 / 25 fps

large vertical silver screen

Atomic 3000 strobes (blue and white)

all sounds based on recorded pipe-organ

Epidemic, Paris

Hellerau European Centre for the Arts, Dresden

© 2020 by Ulf Langheinrich