Music Mediation

Conceptual Improvisation in New Music

Participants: 10-20
Age: 12-?
Duration: variable, depending on the number of concepts
Instrumentation: voice, any sound device
Requirements: none

Concepts and verbal scores of composers such as Dieter Schnebel, Mathias Spahlinger, or Larisa Vrhunc are presented and enacted. The workshop closes with a non-public performance of the participants' favorite concepts.


Cosmic Staircase

Participants: 15 per coach, groups can merge in phase 3
Eligible Age: 14 and above
Duration: 90' or more
Instruments: Any sound device which allows for extremely short and soft sounds, and for sounds of variable sustain and volume, the voice
Location: A quiet spacious place. Ideally, a large one allowing performers to be isolated and positioned on different levels of altitude. A deserted staircase.
Required materials: stop watches or smart phones with stop watch functionality. Instruments which fulfil the requirements above.

Conceptional Piece
(for professionals as well as for amateurs with negligible instrumental or vocal skills)
Based on John Cage's Atlas eclipticalis Cosmic Staircase creates a star-strewn nocturnal sky in musical terms. By concentrating on the uniqueness of each sound without any of the traditional regulators such as rhythm, measure, action-reaction time itself becomes the central objective of music-making.
Phase 1: Explanation of the project and its background. One-by-one presentation and fixing of sound material (minimum of 6 sounds per performer)
Phase 2: Individual creation of scores by throwing dice to determine the sounds used (from the material), and to give them the parameters of duration and volume.
Phase 3: Performance(s), optionally recorded.

© Claudius von Wrochem


De dónde vienes

New Music Mediation Project in two parts

Participants: max. 25 in 4-6 groups
Age: 14-?, suitable for amateurs without music skills up to professionals, and for any combination.
Duration: at least 120' or three (school) lessons, depending on participants' prior experience
Instrumentation: wide selection of instruments, voice
Requirements: a medium to large room for separation of performing groups, black or white board, beamer, pointer

1) Formal analysis of the ensemble song ¿De dónde vienes, amor, mi niño? by the American composer George Crumb
Reduction and Drawing-up of a formal plan, and

2) substitution of the original sound material and instrumentation with input by the participants. Setting up of groups of instrumental or vocal performers as well as the rhythm section with its ostinato.

If more than one room and coach is available participants can rehearse their musical material separately; the rhythm section, for one, will need to rehearse their act.

Joined-up rehearsal, Performance

I owe this concept to the slovenian composer and music theorist Larisa Vrhunc.

© Claudius von Wrochem, Larisa Vrhunc, PhD


MalMusik / PaintMusic

Enrolment: 10-20
Age: at least 6 participants with experience in improvisation, or 10 newbies
Duration: minimum of 3x 90'
Instrumentation: voice, any instrument or sound device
Requirements: familiarity with one's instrument or voice

Concept for the creation of graphical scores, testing of sounds, and performance
requiring a medium to large chamber group of improvisers.
        dedicated to Richard Barrett
You can start this project either with a group of symbolist painters, or with a band of improvising musicians, or both. It is about defining sounding/visual entities which allow for some developement while still retaining most of their characteristics. The result should be attractive/interesting from a visual as well as an aural perspective. The entities will be personalized (groups or individuals depending on the performers abilities) and can remain separate, or merge with others as in the use of water colours.
This will result in a fixed graphical score, either on banner paper, or in a more conventional rectangular format. In order to play from it individual copies, digitalization and individual screens or projection, or a large format will be needed.
When started from a music perspective the project is thus structured:

1. Experimental Phase

2. Notation Phase

Either on banner paper with the concept of x/y-graphs in mind (x = time, y = pitch or other parameters). 
Alternatively, the entities and their interaction can be shown on a large rectangular or rotund paper, as a painting.

3. Performance
It would be preferable for the score to be visible to the audience, but it is not mandatory. Performers should be placed at a distance to each other, except when they are performing the same entities (groups). Individual players can leave their group and musical material in order to merge with one another – but only as an exception to the rule.


I got the idea for this concept after several Kairos Quartet performances of 13 Selfportraits for String Quartet by the English composer und electronic improviser Richard Barret; the composition was written for the Kairos Quartet and premiered 2002 at Konzerthaus Vienna. Like in the case of Cosmic Staircase, my objective was to give less experienced musicians the chance of grasping a central idea of Richard's work by performing islands of sound. Unlike Cosmic Staircase, the finely worked detail of 13 Selfportraits's highly artful score could not be transported into MalMusik which is much more open and thus more depending on the performers' creativity.
On the other hand MalMusik offers additional scope, e.g. cooperation with a Museum or a School for Visual Arts.

© Claudius von Wrochem


Random Patterns

Concept for the making of musical structures in analogy to Morton Feldman's late pattern compositions

Number of participants: 3-8
Age: 15-?
Duration: at least 4x 90' (8 school periods)
Instrumentation: any instruments which allow for many pitches and rhythms
Prerequisites: You need to be in command of your instrument on a medium level

GENERAL IDEA     Random Patterns deals with chance-generated time and pitch structures inspired by Morton Feldman's late period. Participants should be able to safely reproduce pitches on their instruments respective their voices, and they should be able to keep a tempo and a rhythm. In the case of a prolonged duration these prerequisites could become part of the workshop.
The idea is to develop an organic structure in musical terms comparable to the course of one's life. This usually shows growth, consolidation, and decline, phases which in themselves tend to have an irregular, non-linear structure. This is represented by change of segment: within a segment there are no new pitches or rhythms, only varied attribution of pitches to rhythm (if there is more than one pitch to the segment) and slight "pattern errors".
In musical terms Growth is represented through the introduction of new pitches and rhythms. For quite a stretch this happens when a new segment starts. While each participant plays independently, dynamics should be balanced. If, for reasons of instrumental characteristics or performer's limitations, a semblance of balance cannot be achieved the loud instruments can be given fewer and/or shorter notes (or the other way around). The Consolidation phase has been arrived at when most available pitches and rhythms have been introduced. This leads to decline ... (for more detailed instructions contact the author)
© Claudius von Wrochem


Stummfilm als Partitur I.

Number of participants: 10-20*
Age: 14-?
Duration: at least 2x 90'
Instruments: voice, any instruments or sound devices
Prerequisites: creativity

Participants are to search for sonic analogies to cineatric images using the experimental Man Ray short film Emak Bakia.
The chosen sounds and players change according to the variation in camera positions/objects on display. Therefore the film not only serves as a kind of conductor but also strongly influences the sound result. The result should be performed and video–documented.

* This workshop could be realized by even fewer performers, or younger ones if they already have prior experience with free or conceptual improvisation. Alternatively, a longer Man Ray film could be chosen, or the workshop could be of a shorter duration.



Number of participants: 20-30
Age: 12-?
Duration: 90-180 minutes
Instrumentation: any instrument of sound, and the voice
Location: a quiet place, participants make a circle
Requirements: availability of instruments for secondary material

Conceptual piece (appropriate even for amateurs with no known musical skills)

A.    Development of a musical form using sound elements not usually found in Western Art Music and enabling participants at the age of 12 or older to improvise with
B.    Listening without prejudice
C.    Managing interaction on two musical levels at the same time
D.    Becoming familiar with and giving shape to a collective process
E.    Enjoying it
F.    Transforming random events into rhythm and metrum as a result of a collective process*                              * optional, if time permits

A. Participants form a circle and start experimenting with sounds resembling wind (Primary Sound Level) by using their voice and breathing
B. Dimming lights, or closing their eyes, participants turn their backs to the centre of the circle (helps focussing on the auditory and improves reaction). Without moving they let wind sounds moving through their circle, changing timbre, speed, dynamics, other sound properties, or change direction. Even separation in two winds of opposing directions can occur.
- - - Pre-Exercise: collective wind-crescendo and decrescendo - - -
C. Juxtaposed participants form pairs, take up identical instruments and agree on a short musical call (Secondary Sound Level). The player performing the call triggers his partner's response which should come as immediate as possible. Allowing for slight variation between caller and response the difference between the pairs should be noticeable.
- - - Pre-Exercise: Perform all signals in loose succession in order to optimize reaction time between partners - - -

OPTIONAL: Learn a (given or invented) rhythm for coda and decide on its instrumentation
D. Slowly transform pairs of successive calls to a puls; during the process pairs merge into unison.
E. Metamorphosis from puls to rhythm

F.  Participants are left to their own devices (and ingenuity) when doing their final performance as to over-all duration and finding their collective end – there must be no prior arrangement on this matter.

© Claudius von Wrochem, November 2013