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Miscellaneous News

Becoming an UE composer

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I’m very pleased to announce that henceforth works of mine are being published by Universal Edition. It’s a great honour to have become a part of the word’s best music publishing house’s edition. Please feel free to dive into the UE catalogue. Thus far, you can find my works for orchestra/ensemble «L’isola morta», «Catalogue des Arts et Métiers», «Échos éloquents», «Marley’s Ghost», the string quartet «Epitaph for Ovid Naso» and the first book of the album «XXI Oracles Of The Night» for piano there.

Works of Christoph Renhart on Universal Edition

As it is essential for every composer that his or her music is available world-wide, it is a privilege to have a strong partner who takes care of production, distribution, licensing, and invoicing (1). Many of the best composers of the 20th and 21st century—Pierr Boulez, Friedrich Cerha or György Kurtág amongst them—have entrusted their music to UE. The publisher’s quality standards are known to be high in all regards. Even as a young pianist, before I have thought about becoming a professional composer, I did appreciate the perfect graphics and layouts of UE scores. When it gets down to contemporary music, UE scores stand out here even more noticably. Being a perfectionist myself, I’ll do my very best to contribute to this great Viennese tradition, musically and graphically.

Into 21st-century music publishing: scodo

Over the recent years and especially due to digitalisation, the way how new compositions are delivered to the musicians has changed significantly. More and more ensembles do not use printed scores and parts any longer and play everything from a tablet. Other musicians have tried out digital scores but still prefer the paper editions for various reasons. What really matters today is flexibility. Along the lines of responsive web design, sheet music has to be responsive in some ways as well (perhaps, we’ll see some really, i.e. technically responsive scores in the near future written in musicXML or something similar, that’s yet to come). Now, one of the reasons I contracted with Universal Edition is that they really care about the future and they find good answers to today’s challenges. One such an answer is a new publishing tool for composers called scodo.

Have a look at UE’s new publishing tool scodo.

scodo is designed for composers to upload their works and publish them directly. Composers retain the copyright of their works whereas Universal Edition obtains the exclusive distribution rights. A very nice feature of scodo is also the possibility of quickly updating a work. We all know how Ravel struggled to remove all the happy little accidents from his early editions (and indeed it took him a little longer than the late Bob Ross to create his pieces). So, this goes a little quicker with scodo. Found a missing p at the rehearsal or want to change a b natural in the oboe in bar 543 to a b flat? Just upload the latest version. It’s so useful for composers and this feature by itself will improve the quality of the performing materials of many scores remarkably.

It goes without saying that scores and materials can be ordered either in printed form or in a digital version via UE now (UE has won the ‘digital publishing award‘ for this tool recently). And—in high contrast to sending the performance materials to ensembles just by email—composers can get money for their works, while they remain distributable in a digital form. If you’re interested in publishing your scores via scodo or if you’d like to find out more concerning the business modell, visit the scodo page at UE’s website: universaledition.com/scodo

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

Pentathlon

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The little giraffe finds a new friend.

Pentathlon —
A story with the little giraffe

It’s about time to introduce a new figure: Fünffusssaurus. For reasons too obvious to mention we will not translate this into English. Fünffussaurus was purchased a while ago for ten-something at an online store. Before it was mounted—guarded by the severe look of the little giraffe—it remained quarantined for some days, just to be sure LPG doesn’t contract the dragon’s flue (which would be unimaginably frightening). As every construction kit is delivered with some extra building blocks, I chose to deviate a little from the construction manual; hence the name. Originally this was meant to be a dragon, but now it rather looks like a worm, though. A wyvern without wings. A lindworm-centipede-crossbreed. Whatsoever.

Locking horns

Once ready to become subject to this very blog, we’d like to get to know to our new figure a little bit closer. Let’s stage a competition and see which tiny beast performs better, Fünffusssaurus or the local heroine, LPG. There are five categories—quasi the pentathlon for the pipsqueaks—in which Fünffusssaurus will challenge the little giraffe: Height, width, flexibility, fragility and popularity. Let’s start with the first match.

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Who’s taller?
Height

Let’s face it: giraffes are known to be … tall. There is no chance for Fünffusssaurus of winning this stage, is there? Have a look at the picture. While Fünffusssaurus keeps struggling with mother gravity to gain some extra inches, LPG is stablest when raising her nose up to the skies. A clear point for the crowd favourite.

Preliminary result:
 (1)
 (0)

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Who’s longer?
Width

Fünffusssaurus captures a very decisive victory. If we look at the image, LPG measures 2.5 inches from ground to ground, whereas FFFSSS exceeds the range of the meter. Frankly, it was rather challenging to somehow fit FFFSSS into the meter. Other than that, the little giraffe reaches from the Yangtze River to the Amur River, but FFFSSS spreads all over the EU, Russia, Kazakhstan and Africa as well.

Preliminary result:
   (1)
   (1)

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Who’s more flexible?
Flexibility

Let’s see, which of the two has a more dislocatable body and is overall more flexible. We already know that the little giraffe is very flexible. But how about FFFSSS? Let’s get down to it and count their joints. The little giraffe comes up with three ball-and-socket joints, all of them are sited at its neck. However, FFFSSS boasts about its tremendous amount of eleven such joints. Apart from that, also its feet are movable, no less than its tail and its horns. Thus, there is no need to dispute who’s gonna win this round, just have a look at the picture to verify the results.

Fragility

It is self-evident that LPG is rather fragile than indestructible. However, the same is true of our new friend, FFFSSS. We might count all possible items of each character that are likely to get lost. We might also take into consideration that the little giraffe is so fragile, it can’t even stand at all, once one of its legs is broken again. We might also observe, that FFFSSS has five feet that stick together but loosely whereas its underjaw is keen to fall off like a denture at any moment. I would like not to declare LPG or FFFSSS the winner of this match, though, for both competitors are just way too fragile to make a call. It’s a draw.

Giraffes are popular.
Popularity

Finally when it gets down to popularity, the little giraffe remains undefeatable thus far. FFFSSS has not recieved fanpost yet, whereas LPG has (indeed!). Giraffes are somewhat popular animals and when people see that they are occasionally fed to the lions in a zoo in Copenhagen for instance, many people get upset easily. As for FFFSSS, the popularity of a hitherto undiscovered species is undefined or null.

Categories
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: La maladie

Oh no! Is it sick?
Categories
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

A List Of Yellow Items

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La petite girafe liste …
Yellow Items

  1. The Yellow Elephant from Prague. A clay figure dating back to at least 2014 when it was purchased in one of those many tiny shops overcrowded by international tourists you find at every corner in the Czech capital. In contrast to other cities, Prague offers loads of hand-crafted things at such places at vastly reasonable prices. I’m still in doubt whether or not this is really meant to be an elephant, but its most prominent features—the very big ears and a trunk—purport that we can consider it one.
  2. Adhesive Tape. There is not very much to say about that item. Everyone has one somewheres at home, however I try to avoid using it most of the time as taping something together proves to be the next best thing more often than not.
  3. A self-stick notepad. There are many ways they might turn out to be handy. Whenever I get down to extracting the parts from a score I really love them and eventually my desk would become a yellow or white and red carpet—all covered with sticky notes. Cut into thin slices they are also very useful for playing compositions on the piano that require some extended playing techniques which usually means to do something on a specific string of the instrument. Piano strings are not arranged in a standardized way. Thus it might turn out that the Gb1-string(s) are not at the very same place on a concert hall’s piano as on the piano you have at home; hence it is definitely a good idea to attach some (removable) indentations to be sure you hit the right tones and strings on an unfamiliar instrument. Slices of sticky notes attached to the dampers can do this job wonderfully for you.
  4. A yellow blackboard chalk. I love colours—in nearly any context. Explaining something on the blackboard, you can easily group some information that belongs together. I purchased my set of chalks in 2019 I think. Due to the pandemic it has not been used very often since then.
  5. Hermann Erpf’s Lehrbuch der Instrumentation. Honestly, did I really think I could retrieve some inspiriation concerning the way of how to orchestrate my own compositions from this very book? Perhaps some teachers will bring forward the argument that this book needs to be considered a standard reference. I read it. At least.
  6. Panther’s immunization card. Unfortunately no longer needed as our pet cat passed away in January )-;
  7. A yellow fluorescent marker. I’ve hardly ever used it, but it’s yellow, though.
  8. Some glue. Even the paste itself is yellow. After attaching it to paper, it would stick together really well. A bit frightening, isn’t it?
  9. The little giraffe. Well, that’s pretty obvious.
Categories
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

The brush

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La petite girafe et l’object:
The brush

Brushes and mallets are widely known as the objects which percussionists use in order to play on their instruments. Let’s consider a piano a percussion instrument. What can we do with a brush as pianists?

Obviously we might make use of it to scratch over the strings. Naturally playing on the instrument in such a way makes commonly more sense if we keep the right pedal down, but we should also take into consideration only scratching or striking the strings with the brush and leave the pedal in piece. I’ve tried out both ways while composing a new work for piano solo recently and, frankly, I was pretty disappointed. One might assume (I did!) that using a brush on the strings returns a somewhat spectacular and unusual sound, but it just didn’t. However, it’s quite nice to have the following effects: Gently tap over the treble strings and combine it with another playing technique inside the piano or some notes played on the keys. The resuly is quite silent and I would rather not use it in an orchestral work or in a piece for a large ensemble (needs to be amplified, considering the fact that such pieces are usually being staged in larger concert halls).

Another nice way to use it—and indeed this one is quite similar to the one described above—is to scratch over the section of the strings between the tuning screws and the bridge. Again this will produce only very fragile sounds. We might also consider to strike or scratch over the crossbeams with a brush. Again, the result is quite weak. Applying other mallets for that provides by far more options of creating and handling interesting thuds and noises.

Other possible playing techniques involving a brush which I haven’t tried out because they didn’t seem promising at all to me could be:

  • Scratching over the keys with the brush (consider playing Lachenmann’s Guero instead)
  • Using the handle of the brush (mind that not every brush handle is made of the same material)
  • Tapping the soundboard with the brush (again—consider using other mallets instead)
  • Scratching over the dampers (only do this if you hate your instrument)
  • Strike or scratch over the wooden parts of the piano (again, the result would be rather not interesting)
  • Applying the brush to the little giraffe (for obvious reasons)

Categories
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: A Vitascope

The little giraffe is looking into a lense of an unfinished wooden vitascope.
Categories
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

la petite girafe travaille a la domicile

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La petite girafe travaille a la domicile. —
A story with the little giraffe

This is not going to end up as a new corona-blog. In the course of setting up my new homepage I figured out that the last story with the little giraffe dates back to 2019. What a desaster. I have made the most ambitious LPG-plans for 2020, but it all has come different. As we’ve finally headed back to working from home I’m getting overtaken by the feeling that this should be a somewhat familiar situation to a composers. Of course it is—and of course it isn’t.

Krzysztof Penderecki, the great Polish composer who passed away but a few months ago, was also known for sketching some of his compositional ideas on small tables in coffee houses, which has influenced his way of notating his music. Other than that, composers usually love to ponder over their ideas in peaceul seclusion. Silence helps us because it wouldn’t distort the sounds that we bear in our minds before we write them down, unless we consider that silence itself can be regarded as music. If I listened to the silence in a way I listen to music by John Cage, it would definitely distort my thoughs while composing a new piece. Nonetheless I daresay that I believe it is easier to think of a nice microtonally tuned harmonic progression when there’s less obvious noise around oneself than in a coffee house.

I’m definitely missing having a cup of coffee at the Baristas across from our university building or the unhurriedly homelike Kaiserfeld in Graz these days, though. Art is not only something meant to be shared with as many people as possible but art will also not become seen, if people do not come together. People come together in concert halls and people meet and talk about music and art at places such as the Kaiserfeld. Thus, even my work as a composer cannot be done entirely from home. The act of composing is done at home, whereas bringing a new work to the audience isn’t.

Well, as 2021 nears, let’s be optimistic. Here you are some thirteen giraffe-like plans for the coming year that cannot be done at home:

  1. Drink a cappuccino at Kaiserfeld’s.
  2. Go to see a film at the cinema and grumble about it afterwards.
  3. Argue Ferneyhough’s notation with other musicians—accompanied by a pint of Guinness in order to entirely understand what this is all about.
  4. Turn the pages for a pianist at a concert
  5. Go to a vernissage and ask the artist a silly question.
  6. Hand out flyers at various public places.
  7. Play on an old organ (not in concert).
  8. Play on a singing bowl (in concert).
  9. Visit the Funeral Museum Vienna.
  10. Try to sell a replica of Kircher’s Maltese Observatory on a flea market.
  11. Visit Italy.
  12. Go to the Kunsthaus in Graz and purchase a little friend for the little giraffe.
  13. Travel to Kapfenberg by train, see if they have finally rebuilt the station there and go back again (there’s nothing special about Kapfenberg).

Categories
Miscellaneous News

Radio Interview in Ö1 Zeit-Ton

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Radio Interview in Ö1 Zeit-Ton

New pieces for the piano by Richard Düner, Gianluca Iadema and Christoph Renhart have recently been released on CD by the label VMS. The radio station Ö1 presented the new compositions in their programme “Zeit-Ton” on Wednesday past (August 26, 2020). Presentator Rainer Elstner spoke with me about the works. You can listen to the interview and to extracts of the new CD here:

Link to the radio broadcast

Buy the CD here

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Miscellaneous News

XXI Orakel der Nacht in Graz

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XXI Orakel der Nacht in Graz

Looking ahead optimistically, there is a somewhat good chance of performing the first book of my work “XXI Oracles Of The Night” for piano solo on October 18th in Graz. This concert—originally scheduled for April—will feature works of Styrian composers played by themselves. Meanwhile the second book of this 21-part-cycle is in the making and will feature again lots of new and unexpected sounds for the piano (and some instruments extending it) and unconventional techniques for the player. Stay tuned (-;

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Miscellaneous News

CD released

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CD released: Piano pieces by Dünser, Renhart and Iadema

In the last summer I recorded my work XXI Oracles Of The Night that was written in 2018. It has now been been released on a new CD that features pieces for piano solo by Richard Dünser and Gianluca Iadema alongside my work. The works by Dünser and Iadema are played by the renowned Austrian pianist Doris Adam.

Buy the CD here

or get a copy via: office@zappelmusic.com