October 30th, 2012
Dutch vocal improviser Jaap Blonk uses synthesized sounds, including samples of his own voice, in powerful, joyful performances structured by the mathematical algorithms that are his other expertise. Blonk presents his 4-channel-mix piece “Polyphtong” as a first set and Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate” as the second (as an acoustic performance). In “Polyphtong,” Blonk writes, the phonetic concepts of diphthong and approximant are an important focus in meditative sections of the work. It also uses the techniques of his cheek synthesizer, in which many kinds of stereo mouth sounds are driven by sheer air, ranging from very low to extremely high pressures.
The 2012 Earshot Jazz festival continues. Click on the schedule here 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival
Dadaist Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate” is a sound poem in four movements, created over a decade in 1920s Germany. Schwitters left a few pages of instructions for reciters, and Blonk’s own internalization of the piece since he first heard it in 1979, and subsequent performances, make quite an odyssey for the vocal performance artist. “The piece is very much founded in the directness of real life,” Blonk writes. Blonk was born in 1953, Woerden, Holland. The self-taught composer, performer, poet and vocal performance talent used the voice as his main means for the discovery and development of new sounds for almost two decades. From about the year 2000, Blonk started work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending to include sound synthesis. A year off of performing in 2006 prompted a renewed interest in mathematics and research into the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual animation and poetry. As a vocalist, Blonk is unique in his powerful stage presence and almost childlike freedom in improvisation, combined with a keen grasp of structure. – SH