"Surrogate Cities" is an attempt to approach the phenomenon of the city from various sides, to tell stories of cities, expose oneself to them, observe them; it is material about metropolises that has accumulated over the course of time. The work was inspired partly by texts, but also by drawings, structures and sounds, the juxtaposition of orchestra and sampler playing a considerable role because of the latter's ability to store sounds and noises ordinarily alien to orchestral sonorities. The associations l have are with a realistic, certainly contradictory, but ultimately positive image of the modern city. My intention was not to produce a close-up but to try and read the city as a text and then to translate something of its mechanics and architecture into music. ...
When it comes to the power dynamics of the city, the individual is always the more vulnerable party. Art rebels against this overpowering structure by strengthening the subjective element. Music, too, is composed from a highly subjective perspective, for composers usually justify what they write by saying that they "need to get it out of their system ". That is only partly true for me. l try to gain a bit more distance: l construct something that confronts the audience, and the audience reacts to it, discovering in the music a space they can enter complete with their associations and ideas.
(From a conversation with Heiner Goebbels)
Was jetzt diese Stelle einnimt, sind Ruinen, aber nicht iherer selbst, sondern ihrer Erneuerungen aus späteren Zeiten nach Bränden und Zerstörungen. Es bedarf kaum einer besonderen Erwähnung, daß alle diese Überreste des alten Roms als Einsprengungen in das Gewirre einer Großstadt aus den letzten Jahrhunderten seit der Renaissance erscheinen. Manches Alte ist gewiß noch im Boden der Stadt oder unter ihren modernen Bauwerken begraben. Dies ist die Art der Erhaltung des Vergangenen, die uns an historischen Städten entgegentritt.
(Sigmund Freud: Das Unbehagen der Kultur)
Did he walk through unfamiliar districts? Some man, in passing, bumped against his shoulder in a crowded street. Was it yesterday? Today? Where was it? It must have been far from his room. He walked by couples embracing like young trees that take root in the sky and are laden with stars. He passed a woman who asked him. .. He did not answer her. He had not heard what she said. He had only heard sounds. He had not even seen her. Had he really passed her? He heard noises.. noises. He walked through red lights, through green lights. He followed, lost, came back to, followed the street lamps. He caught bits of conversation, forgot them, remembered them again together with an idea, a thought, a project. He walked, He is walking. He does not want to go back home. He does not have the courage He follows the current. To find his room he would have to make an effort, remem ber, take a direction, find out the time and where he was, He does not have the energy He drifts.
(Edmond Jabes: The Book of Questions)
For he had scarcely crossed the threshold on his way out, when the banqueting hall fell upon the heads of the guests and wrought such havoc among them that the relatives of the dead who came to seek the bodies for burial were unable to distinguish not merely the faces but even the limbs of the dead. Then it is said, Simonides, who remembered the order in which the guests had been sitting, succeeded in restoring to each man his own dead.
(Quintilian: Institutio Oratoria)
Suite for Sampler and Orchestra
The perspective of the Sampler-Suite is the vertical section of the city: we are offered a look underground, at the sewers, the Inner workings of the city, at urban history, at what lies buried beneath the surface, at ruins that revealglimpses of history - like the Scarlatti quotation in the Allemande or a chorale evocative of the Baroque in the Gigue. As digital memory, the sampler is an ideal vehicle for human memory It brings us the sounds of cities such as Berlin, New York, Tokyo or St. Petersburg: industrial noise (or what might be taken for it- the sounds produced when music is electronically transformed), subcultural "noise" and the sounds of history - like the scratchy recordings from the 1920s and '30s in the Chaconne, which preserve the memory of the Jewish cantonal tradition, a vocal culture that has long ceased to be accessible in this form.
"Nähe des Fernen, Ferne des Nahen" könnte die Strukturformel lauten, unter der alle Erfahrungen der großen Stadt stehen. Auch das Fernste, Unzugänglichste steht in der großen Stadt in einer prinzipiellen relaitven Nähe, da die Distanzen hier nicht so sehr räumliche als vielmehr zeichenhafte Distanzen sind. Andererseits rückt auch das Nächste, sich unmittelbar dem Blick Darbietende in eine prinzipielle Ferne. Es ist das Kriterium für die große oder vielmehr sehr große Stadt, daß in ihr auch noch für die Stadtbewohner selbst das Fremde das Vertraute überwiegt... Das Nahe ist aber nicht nur immer wieder das Fremde, es ist zugleich das, was den Blick auf anderes verdeckt und dieses so in Abwesenheit verweist.
(Karlheinz Stierle: Der Mythos von Paris)
The Horatian - Three Songs
The material is ancient, passed down to us by Livy and the subject of numerous plays (from Corneille to Brecht) and operas (from Cimarosa to Mercadante): a civil-war-like conflict between two neighbouring cities, with battle to be done by two men on their behalf, to keep the losses at a minimum. Although they are related (one is engaged to the other's sister), when one of the Horatii; representing Rome, defeats the Curiatius, fighting for Alba, he does not spare his life and hopes to be rewarded for it at home by a triumphal reception. When his sister bursts Into tears instead, he slays her Now Rome has two men in one. a victor and a murderer How is he to be dealt with? That is the principal question of Hemer Müller's adaptation.
Rome and Alba
Between the city of Rome and the city of Alba
There was a contest for dominance.
The commanders in chief
Stepped each one in front of their armies and said
One to the other: Since a battle will weaken Conqueror and conquered, let us cast lots
So that one man will fight for our city
Against one who fights for the city of yours
And the armies rapped with their swords on their shields
And then the lots where cast.
The lots determined to fight
For Rom a Horatian, for Alba a Curiatian.
The Curiatian was betrothed to the Horatian's sister. And the Horatian and the Curiatian
Were asked, each one by his army: He is betrothed to your sister/
You are betrothed to his sister
Shall the lot
Be cast one more time?
And the Horatian and the Curiatian said: No
So that the Blood dropped to the Earth
And the Horatian and the Curiatian were asked,
Shall the lot be cast one more time?
And the Horatian and the Curiatian said: No
And they fought between the lines of battle
And the Horatian wounded the Curiatian
And the Curiatian said with his voice on the wane: Spare the conquered man. I am
Betrothed to your sister
And the Horatian yelled:
My bride is Rome
And the Horatian thrust his sword into
The Curiatian's throat, so that the blood dropped to the earth.
When the Horatian came home to the city of Rome Carried high on the shields of the unharmed army Draped on his shoulder the warriors mantle of
The Curiatian whom he had killed
There came towards him at the eastern gate of the city
With quick strides his sister
But the sister recognized the bloodied mantle
Work of her hands, and wailed and let her hair down. And the Horatian scolded the mourning sister:
Why do you wail and let down your hair.
Rome has conquered. The conquerer stands before you.
And the sister kissed the bloodied mantle and screamed:
Give back to me what was clothed in this mantle.
And the Horatian thrust the sword
Into the breast of the weeping girl
So that her blood dropped to the earth.
There is the Conquerer His name: Horatius
There is the murderer. His name: Horatius
To each one his own.
To the conquerer the laurel, to the murderer the ax. And the Horatian was crowned with the laurel
And the Horatian was executed by the ax
So that his blood dropped to the earth.
Dwell where the Dogs dwell
He shall be called the conquerer of Alba
He shall be called the murderer of his sister
Within one breath his merit and his guilt.
And whoever speaks of his guilt and not of his merit Shall dwell where the dogs dwell, as a dog.
And whoever speaks of his merit but not of his guilt He, too, shall dwell among dogs.
But he who speaks of his guilt at one time
and at other times speaks of his merit
Differently speaking with one mouth at different times Or differently to different ears
His tongue shall be torn from his mouth.
Since the words must be kept pure. Because
A sword may be broken and also a man
May be broken, but words
They fall into the wheels of the world, irretrievably Making things known to us or unknown.
(Heiner Müller: The Horatian)
D & C
D & C for large orchestra is an acoustic edifice; not an illustratively animated portrait of a city but its very structural backbone: corners, pillars, walls, facades. Though no specific architectonic images or particular cities are invoked, similarities are not coincidental, for instance to the five final fist-blows that will ultimately destroy the city in Kafka's story "The City Coat Of Arms", which open D &C and repeatedly cut swathes through the images.
From a compositional standpoint, the various parts of the work are developed as variants on the pitches of D and C.
Dieses Übermaß an Sprachen, Dolmetschern und Nationen, diese Vielfalt, die ständig zu Streit führt, legt den Gedanken nahe, daß das Wesen der Stadt anderswo ist oder, genauer gesagt, ein anderes als das des Turms ist. Indem man auf den kapitalen Turm verzichtet, auf dieses höchste Verlangen nach einem einzigartigen Turm, nach einer kapitalen Aufrichtung, die in den Himmel ragt, bildet sich nach Generationen gerade in diesem Verzicht eine Gemeinschaft, und man trift die Entscheidung, anstelle (am Ort) des unmöglichen Turms die Stadt zu bewahren. Und diese verantwortungsbewußte Entscheidung wird im Namen der Zukunft getroffen. Man verzichtet auf das totalitäre Projekt des Turms, drängt den Gedanken an den Turm in dem Moment beiseite, wo einem bewußt wird, daß das, worauf es ankommt, die Offenheit des Versprechens und d.h. die der Zukunft ist. Katastrophal wird eine Stadtplanung immer dann, wenn sie aller Probleme erschöpfend in der Zeit einer Generation lösen und den künftigen Generationen nicht als ihr Erbe die Zeit und den Raum geben will, und dies eben deshalb, weil "die, die Bescheid wissen", die Architekten und Stadtplaner, im voraus zu wissen glauben, wie es morgen aussehen muß, um so die ethisch-politische Verantwortlichkeit durch ihre technisch-wissenschaftliche Programmierung ersetzen. Auch hierauf scheint mir Kafka im Stadtwappen hinzuweisen...
(Jacques Derrida: Generationen einer Stadt)
Die Faust im Wappen
All the legends and songs that came to birth in that city are filled with longing for a prophesied day when the city would be destroyed by five successive blows from a gigantic fist. It is for that reason too that the city has closed fist on its coat of arms.
(Franz Kafka: The City Coat of Arms)
She has been running. What for?... What makes a young woman run? During the day? In the city? ... It makes you look like you're late. Forgotten something. Like you need to get to a bank, or a doctor or an attorney. Like you don't own a car. Dream a lot over breakfast. Say little. ... It makes you look like you've been tricked.
It makes you look like you've just been attacked. Like you've just escaped from the East. ... Like you've had a taste of freedom. Like you've seen something that made you turn back. Like you once had an idea what you wanted most. Running makes you look like you've lost something. Or stolen something. Or said something. Told lies. ... It makes you look like you know something that nobody else does. Like you once had an idea of what you wanted most. ...And running makes you look like like you're new. ... Running in the street makes you look like you don't belong. Like you're unemployed. Un-German. Surrogate.
(Hugo Hamilton: Surrogate City)
- He stopped. Played. There was a brash but distand trumpet sound. He stopped and rewound further. He tapped his finger against the machine with impatience. He stopped again. Played. Sound of voices. Fast forward. Played again. At first there was nothing. Nothing but the tape noise. Ambience. He turned up the volume. There was a slight hiss. Then came the clear sound of a door closing. A cough or a grunt followed by further sounds of footsteps or movement in an enclosed space, followed by further sounds of muffled breathing. Fabric beeing pulled. Then a very clear sound rang out...
(Hugo Hamilton: Surrogate City)
In the Country of Last Things
These are the last things, she wrote. One by one they disappear and never come back. I can tell you of the ones I have seen, of the ones that are no more, but I doubt, there will be time. It is all happening too fast now. ...These are the last things. A house is there one day, and the next day it is gone. A street you walked down yesterday is no longer there today. ... When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see. ...Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it. ...That is what the city does to you. It turns your thoughts inside out. It makes you want to live and at the same time it tries to take your life away from you. There is no escape from this. Either you do or you don't. And if you do, you can't be sure of doing it the next time. And if you don't, you never will again.
(Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things)
Argia - Cities and the Dead 4
What makes Argia different from other cities is that it has earth instead of air. The streets are completely filled with dirt, clay packs the room to the ceiling, on every stair another stairway is set in negative, over the roof of the houses hang layers of rocky terrain like skies with clouds. We do not know if the inhabitants can move about the city, widening the worm tunnels and the crevices where roots twist: the dampness destroys people's bodies and they have scant stregth; everyone is better off remaining still, prone; anyway, it's dark.
From up here, nothing of Argia can bee seen; some say, "It's down below there", and we can only believe them. The place is deserted. At night, putting the ear to the ground, you can sometimes hear a door slam -
(Italo Calvino: Die unsichtbaren Städte)
In the Country of Last Things 2
This is how I live
Her letter continued...
I put one foot in front of the other,
And then the other foot in front of the first
And then I hope I can do it again.
Nothing more than that...
When you walk through the streets,
She went on,
You must remember to take only one step at a time.
Otherwise falling is inevitable.
Your eyes must be constantly open, looking up,
Looking down, looking ahead, looking behind,
On the watch for other bodies,
On your guard against the unforseeable...
The essential thing is not to become injured.
For habits are deadly.
Even if it is for the hundreth time,
You must encounter each thing as if you have never known it before.
No matter how many times it must always be the first time.
In the city, the best approach is to believe only what your eyes tell you...
One step and then another step and then another that is the rule.
If you cannot bring yourself to even that,
Then you might as well jsut lie down right then and here
And tell yourself to stop breathing.
1 January 2000