? Concrete Poetry

(Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1970)

1. Henri Chopin: Espaces et gestes

2. François Dufrêne: Crirythme pour Bob Cobbing

3. Bernard Heidsieck: Chapeau

4. Paul de Vree: Rivièra

5. Paul de Vree: Het even is een baccarat

6. Bengt Emil Johnson: 51970 (lecture on ...)

7. Sten Hanson: Subface

8. Bob Cobbing: Variations on a theme of Tan

9. Ladislav Novák: Descartes' metamorphosis into liquid

10. Ernst Jandl: Ode auf N


Concrete Sound Poetry Record Notes

This record covers the period 1957 to 1970. It ranges from the single voice reading to the most complex of machine and electronic transformations of vocal material, from the semantic and phonetic poem to poems which are a matter of vocal particles and micro-particles rather than the word or even the letter.

Espace et Gestes Henri Chopin 1959 France
This is the third audio-poem by Henri Chopin, apart from the plays for loudspeakers (Vivre pour Vivre I II and III). The original work, made in stereo, lasted 22 minutes, but a large part of the original tape was effaced by accident and this is all that is left. It was first presented at Galerie Mesure in Paris in 1960 as a confrontation with the Ur sonata of Kurt Schwitters (1923-28). The aim was to show the difference between the phonetic poem with an elementary structure and the more complex sound poem using electronics and the ability of the tape recorder to slow down, speed up and superimpose layers of vocal sound. The score of Espace et Gestes was published in Cinquième Saison, No 17, 1962.

Crirythme pour Bob Cobbing François Dufrêne 1970 France
Since 1955, Francois Dufrêne has recorded some fifty Crirythmes and this is his latest, made in September 1970. All are for his own voice and are spontaneously shaped in performance. Unlike Chopin, he does not use speed changes in his recordings. All exist on tape as exact representations of live performances. Sometimes, as in this example, an accompanying crirythme is recorded on a second track. Otherwise no editorial treatment is employed.

Chapeau (Passe-Partout No L1.) Bernard Heidsieck 1970 France
Chapeau, finished in July 1970, is the latest in Bernard Heidsieck's new series of action poems (called Passe-Partout) based on real-life stories. A few years ago, a Danish soldier was thoroughly bored during OTAN exercises. As he was a radio-operator he relieved his boredom by reading on the radio parts of a book which he had in his pocket, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancers This kind of literature astonished the staff at SHAPE headquarters. When it was finally discovered where the offending broadcasts were coming from, the poor soldier was sentenced to 15 days in jail. Heidsieck's own voice is used in this treatment of the story, which is pointed to bring out its surrealist qualities by electro-acoustical treatment.

Riviera Paul de Vree 1965/67 Belgium
This poem was written in 1965 and the recording made in 1967, sonorisation by Lucien Goethals, Riviera expresses a summer mood. The words are, through inversion, interpreted as waves. Shouts are accentuated at the climax. The text is published in Zimprovisaties (De Tafelronde, Antwerp).

Het leven is een baccarat Paul de Vree 1966/69 Belgium
The poem dates from 1962 and this sonorised version by Bruyndoncks was made in 1963. Het leven is een baccarat is socio-critical. Life is a game of chance in this world where people (mankind) act as rats (bac à rats). The treatment is alliterative, and staccato, in the manner of Germanic 'sprechaktion.'

Side Two

5/1970; (Lecture on ...) Bengt Emil Johnson 1970 Sweden
The sound material is from a Swedish poem by Carl Frederik Hill, read by Evan Storm. The material is transformed by the use of tape recorder with rotating head and electro-accoustical equipment. It is a piece finally without semantic content, for the same phrase is used throughout. Bengt Emil Johnson says that to transcend semantics is the best way for a record which is to be distributed internationally. He adds that he considers the piece a 'poem'.

Subface Sten Hanson 1970 Sweden
This composition is concerned with the border between the conscious and subconscious mind. It uses what, nobody knows exactly why, is spontaneously drifting up against the surface of consciousness. Like most of Sten Hanson's compositions, the text material (read by the poet himself) is minimal, but it is transformed in many different ways by electro-accoustical equipment.

Variations on a theme of Tan Bob Cobbing 1964/1968 England
The original poem was written in 1964 and based on a 6-word Veddas song. The text is published in SO (Writers Forum, London). The first variation was made in 1965 using the poet's own voice. The other variations were made in 1968 using the voices of Cobbing and François Dufrêne, and, in variations three and four, of Cobbing's and Dufrêne wives, Jennifer and Ginette. The rendering is completely spontaneous throughout, with the minimum of editing or electrical treatment. The piece is included as deliberate contrast to the preceding compositions which utilize advanced electrical means.

The liquefaction of the geometer Descartes and his further liquid state of aggregation
Ladislav Novák 1968/Czechoslovakia

The composition is a treatment of Ladislav Novák’s own voice pronouncing variations of the sentence: 'I speak and therefore I am'. Later, other versions appear. 'and therefore am I?', 'I am speaking, speaking, speaking', 'where am I? where am I from? where am I?' Shortly before the conclusion, the following litany is recited:

I am wandering with my own voice
I am groping with my own voice
I am rising with my own voice
I am sinking with my own voice
I am stumbling with my own voice
I am falling with my own voice
I am flying with my own voice
I am bleeding with my own voice
I am floating with my own voice
I am disappearing with my own voice

The recording finishes with the sentence: 'I am only that which and how I am speaking'.

Ode to N Ernst Jandl 1957/66 Austria
The original title of the poem was Ode auf N and it was written in 1957, printed in Neue Wege No 123 (Vienna, May 1957), and recorded in 1966.

Prayer Ernst Jandl 1957/66 Austria
This is based on two poems by Ernst Jandl, both written in 1957, jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee first published in Tlaloc 4 (February 1965) and ja now included in Der künstliche Baum (Luchterhand, Berlin 1970).

This and the preceding composition by Ernst Jandl illustrate both the untreated human voice and its treatment by electro-accoustical means.