Gaudeamus Music Week 2010: A Few Good Surprises

Gaudeamus Music Week 2010: A Few Good Surprises

By Ruby Fulton
Johannes Kreidler’s video Product Placements, “Night of the Unexpected” at Paradiso, and canal dragging for bikes.

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Ruby Fulton

Friday at Gaudeamus had a couple of good surprises for me. The first one was the appearance of the German composer Johannes Kreidler. I saw his YouTube video “Charts Music” about a year ago in Baltimore, and it’s wild to see this internet celebrity in person. He’s famous for challenging copyright laws which ban artists from copying or sampling someone else’s work. In 2008, he wrote Product Placements, a 33-second electronic piece which makes use of 70,200 samples. In order to register the title with GEMA (the German ASCAP), he had to fill out a form for each sample used. It’s an outdated registration system where you can’t register titles online if the piece uses quotes and requires extra forms. But, more to the point, perhaps it’s an outdated way of thinking, that sampling should require documentation. As Kreidler says, “copying is a form of culture.” So he filled out all of the thousands of forms, loaded them into the back of a truck and delivered them to the GEMA offices, where they finally backed down and changed the rule for him in order to avoid all the paperwork. It was a big event in the news. All his stacks of papers have been made into a sculpture now. A short documentary about Product Placements was screened at the afternoon concert here.

Ensemble Klang performing <i>Narayana's Cows</i> at Night of the Unexpected; Johannes Kreidler's video <i>Product Placements</i>
Ensemble Klang performing Narayana’s Cows at “Night of the Unexpected”; Johannes Kreidler’s video Product Placements

The evening was “Night of the Unexpected” at Paradiso. This was quite an event, with different acts going on every twenty minutes or so in different parts of the club. My two favorite acts were unusual theater pieces. Towards the beginning of the night was an opera-type thing with no singers called The Arrest by Yannis Kyriakides performed by Ensemble MAE. Instead of a singer presenting the text, there was a video with very large words which told the story. It had a sort of “trainspotting” vibe about it. The music was cool.

A bit later, Ensemble Klang played Narayana’s Cows by Tom Johnson, with Keir Neuringer narrating. The central idea for the piece is both incredibly simple but also mathematically complex—there’s one cow in the beginning of the story, and the musicians play a note for every new cow who is born over time. The string of notes grows longer with each new generation. Klang was flawless and awesome.

And after that, we got Killl, a totally off the hook noise band from Oslo whose lighting scheme nearly gave me a seizure.

The most unexpected thing I saw yesterday, though, was this claw machine dragging out mangled bicycles from the canals.

<i>The Arrest</i> performed by Ensemble MAE at Paradiso; Machine dragging bicycles out of the canal
The Arrest performed by Ensemble MAE at Paradiso; Machine dragging bicycles out of the canal