– a radiophonous sound journey with Hildegard

Der Eifer Gottes nach dem Rupertsberger Kodex der Hildegard von Bingen   (Aquarell und Buntstift, Abbildung von Dagmar Dieterich, 1990)

The radiophonous sound composition AerAquaAngelusVox is an imaginary “listening journey”. It is an acoustic/spiritual/contemplative meditation designed as a spirally growing sound mandala and its intention is, among others, to turn the existential interrelations between man, nature and the universe into a physical as well as spiritual experience.

When the four sound levels or SoundMilieus, air – water – angel – voice, which are fully autonomous – that is, not governed by any hierarchy – sound together (symphonia) they constitute a multilinear, symbiotic SoundFrame (harmonia) made up of exclusively organic sound components pertaining to the three categories Nature – Animal – Man.

The outset of the radiophonous sound journey is related to the “vital” basic sound element air. This sound material is generated exclusively from transformed womens’ voices, covering the whole range from pure breathing noise to the individual spoken word.

The subsequent section deals with the “prima materia”: water. Six of its materializations and symbolic meanings – spring, well, brook, rain, river, ocean – it structures the whole sound composition in the form of a day trip starting from dawn, taking the whole day and leading into the night.

In combination with air, the symbol of nature, water, with its permanent presence and constant oscillation between “pure” naturalism and “pure” sound event, creates a freely flowing resonance field for the remaining two SoundMilieus Angel and Voice.

“Aerial spirits”, “winged souls” – Birds – constitute an ensemble of so-called “desubjectivized expressive materials” (Gilles Deleuze) and abstract-rhythmic- melodic SoundFigures. These are created by means of so-called digital sound processors (samplers). It is by these processors that, in a quasi scientific way, eighteen birds’ voices used for the piece were collected, explored as well as rendered audible and available for artisitic elaboration.

Thus, the birds in their artificial presence do not only relate to themselves or to their non-acoustic symbolic value, but beyond to the far-ranging, open historical/cultural associations which are commonly evoked by the word “Angel”.

The fourth sound layer,Vox, is characterized by the entirely untransformed Responsorium “De Angelis” by Hildegard von Bingen, sung by three women’s voices. The responsorium is only divided into individual sound formulas in accordance with natural breathing or text breaks. Distributed over the entire sound composition according to strict harmonical-symmetrical principles, they constitute a SoundMatrix which structures the time of the event, perceived by man as a linear vector, almost like an hourly prayer.

All in all, the four sound levels constitute a “ListeningEvent” in its entirety, an immediate experience which may lead to the very knowledge which over time periods and cultures has been described in different ways: the knowledge that “everything is consistent with everything”.

The first performance of the version for 16 loudspeaker groups and image projection took place in the Zeiss large-scale planetarium Berlin in 1998. The accessible 16-channel SpatialSoundInstallation AquaAngelusVox was first performed in the same year in the Schwörsaal at Ravensburg.