cd arbe 12 (2004) | ISBN 978-3-85129-641-9
When I was much younger I used to turn the tuning dial on my radio to move the pointer from left to right on the scale and back again; I'd hear warm rustling background static, and now and then a brief bar of music or scrap of speech (scarcely anything in German), but I seldom halted long enough to learn exactly what was being broadcast. If I did stop on a spoken word, then the randomly-found announcer was speaking in a completely unintelligible jargon; unintelligible to me, anyway. Apart from a scenic view from the Moldau Tower or a hike on the Dreisesselberg this was for years my sole direct impression of the former East Bloc.
The enormous potential in the simultaneity of all possible broadcasts together with the incidental hiss of static (this has no similarity to the purposeless flipping through TV channels by pressing buttons on the remote control, the ice-cold silence of ant wars, the threatening echo of the Big Bang when only stillness is emitted from a node where a memory had been stored), forced a magnetical magical attraction on me. This dual magical-in-itself green light (a colour which, when emerging years later in the new mint-flavoured tooth gel, immediately evoked trust in me through familiarity) in the slot on the front of the apparatus seemed to want to jump out from left and right and merge together, then after uniting in accord with reception strength immediately forced to spring apart because I turned the dial further, except Sundays, around ten past eight, after the news, the provincial station gave the daily flying weather — achtelatostratocumulus — which was for me the magic word to not move the dial and stay tuned for Radio Wien, eat breakfast with Granny, and listen with all the other Austrians of every age and sex to learn What's New? from the legendary Heinz Conrads.
And then quickly rush over to the church to assume my role as an altar boy.
There were several summers when I even had the devout impulse to volunteer for chorister duty during the week. I was allowed to perform at readings and intercessions, and at funerals with the sound level suitably subdued. That worked out OK, and if tipping had been customary in Münichholz I would have earned quite well. I would surely have done better out in some rural area, in Raming say, or on the Wachtberg.
Obelix had already had his full share of magic potion in early childhood, enough to last for the rest of his life. Similarly, I had mine in the course of ministrating, and together with my one year theology studies in Graz, I found it all fairly interesting. (Faced with especially ticklish ventures, Obelix had even dredged up a couple extra drops of courage). Enough for theology. Today I am not even numbered among the laymen. However, liturgical rites remain familiar to me still. After all, what's been learned can't be unlearned.
In the summer of 1991 I was invited to a gathering of artists in St. Lambrecht. Multiple friendly relationships have since resulted, both within and outside of cloistral circles. Free from expectations whatsoever I can compose myself for a new creative process, and when there's something to celebrate — the Mayor's wife's birthday, styriarte music festival, Gerwig's ordination — I'm there. A musical rappelling maneuver with the euphonium at the infamous Wilde Loch in Grebenzen shows how much my music is valued: after playing, they pulled me out again. (We've heard of no similar experience with Troubadix.)
Two days and two nights at the start of summer — the time had come. I took on three gigs: at the Peterskirche, plain, middling small, Gothic altar, at the Romanesque Karner, dedicated to the Last Judgment, and in the Schlosskapelle — castle chapel, located in the dilapidated abbot's castle above the cloister, a spot more secular than religious. Three very different settings and yet interwoven with one another in a temporal relationship of 30 to 30 to 20 minutes, profound listening in new and unimagined interiors, undreamed-of even by me.
It all has to do with nothing other than Pure Music, and as music has for ages been described in Italian, I also call the parlando pieces prologo, melodia, drammatico or esaurimentato. Indeed, they name themselves, they've told their names to me in playing and told them again in listening.
To me all music is speech, in this special case spontaneous speech. If you come right down to it, when people speak to each other on a mutual theme — and have something of import to say — it's improvisation (as a rule much is unspoken, merely implied), and the conversation goes running along by itself: words, grammar, syntax, remark, rejoinder . . . and ideally, a fine wine to go with it.
Aside from utterances characteristic of so-called cultivated conversation, there are of course (and much more customary) expressions of everyday utility: dammit!, a cup of coffee, please, can you try to close your door more quietly . . .
It's curious that, with the exception of liturgical and ceremonial recitations which require repetition in order to be effective, there is one profession, where in the main nothing is spoken spontaneously: our actors are paid to perform and speak for us their well-tested lines of dialogue as if they were created on the spur of the moment. The public attends theaters in order to see the actors and actresses act and to hear those cleverly-fashioned words spoken, and the public values and applauds this deception — as well.
In music too, predetermined interpretations are reproduced. However, it says here that jazz music has a high improvisational content. I doubt that. How does one attain that highest possible unintentional (pure) musicality? And hear this: Who is it then who could actually step up onto a podium at the last critical moment with his noggin completely empty? Lenz (Georg Büchner’s novel; at least he had the decency to be embarrassed for not being able to walk on his head)? Simon Tanner? Zeno Cosini? Ulrich? Kaspar Hauser? Gregor Samsa?
[Here the text breaks off.]
And that’s what parlando is all about.
I'm eagerly awaiting further developments.
Bertl Mütter, 15 October 2004
Translation: David Koblick
parlando (cd arbe 12, 2004)
Bertl Mütter – trombone, euphonium, voice, composition
Recorded June 2004 in St. Lambrecht, Styria
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