gal - bestimmung new york (Durian, 1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

gal bestimmung new york

 
15 Voice Sculptures
 
CD 'bestimmung new york', Durian Records, Austria 1999
 
'With bestimmung new york, I intend to foster an awareness for the musical/sonic qualities of language.
I spent the summer of 1998 in New York City recording the voices of 15 friends and colleagues speaking always the same phrases and words
in different languages. Using digital sampling and some computer processing I extracted speech rhythms, speech melodies or simply sounds
and recombined them creating short electro-acoustic pieces.

Starting point was my experience that languages, when detached from their semantic and functional context,
are perceived as sound events, as music. I am interested in opening up this acoustic space by focusing on melodic and rhythmic patterns,
as well as sonic and dynamic characteristics of language, yet seen from a musical viewpoint. Strongly connected to this idea is what I call
the individual 'sonic fingerprint' of each voice. The acoustic and also the inherent emotional qualities of the different recordings played
an important role within the compositional process. Thus, the 3-5 minutes long pieces emerge from the individual sound character
of the respective voices, the influence of rhythmic and melodic textures, as well as my associative assemblage
and modification of the recorded voice fragments.


[Bernhard Gal, October 1999]
 

bestimmung new york premiered as a sound installation at the sound art gallery Studio 5 Beekman in New York City in August 1998.
A CD version was released by the Austrian label Durian Records in September of 1999, being Gal's first Solo-CD-release.

In 2001, bestimmung new york
was awarded the interdisciplinary art award 'Karl-Hofer-Prize' of the University of Arts, Berlin.



Further projects and presentations based on bestimmung new york
 

Dissociated Bodies 1999 - New York
Audio-textile installation in collaboration with Austrian painter G.S. Sedlak.
Die Halle, Salzburg. August 1999
...

bestimmung new york / Dissociated Voices
Austrian CD-presentation and interactive sound installation.
Gromoga Art Space, Vienna. December 1999
Dissociated Voices
Interactive sound installation, in cooperation with the V:NM-Festival 2000.
Gallery 'Werkstadt Graz', May-June 2000
bestimmung new york
Sound projection / Awardation of the Karl Hofer-Prize
University of the Arts, Berlin, January 2002


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CD track list / Sound excerpts



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gal bestimmung new york (Durian 009-2, 1999)
 
#1: ayako-japanese 3.43
Bernhard Gal - bestimmung new york (Durian, 1999)

#2: gabriel-hungarian

4.03

mp3

#3: genevieve-filipino

3.59

mp3

#4: jamila-arabic

3.56

#5: kat-polish

4.14

mp3

#6: lizzy-hebrew

3.54

#7: maria-spanish

3.48

mp3

#8: melina-german

5.07

mp3

#9: oskar-basque

3.53

#10: ruvn-yiddish

4.38

mp3

#11: sasha-russian

3.24

#12: susanne-english

5.06

#13: toon-thai

3.28

#14: vazira-urdu

4.41

mp3

#15: vivian-cantonese

5.14

mp3

 
   
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gal bestimmung new york

  press reviews
     
     

Austrian composer Bernard Gal found 15 friends or 15 acquaintances in New York, each whom spoke a different language, from Yiddish to Filipino to Urdu. And recorded them saying the same phrases: groups of numbers, 'I love you', more. He then got to work, layering and altering the tapes, re-arranging the words, slowing down and speeding up, multiplying and shrinking one language at a time: a cross-section of meaning, translation, repetition, and visceral speaking qualities is the result. These pastiches are like wandering through the New York subways in a dream, the clacking of the tracks replaced by the words and overlapping musings of the passengers surrounding you. Disorienting in sound, orienting in thought, gorgeous and dense. A reminder of how it's not what you say, it's also not what language you say it in; it's how you say it.

Robin Edgerton (Other Music, USA)

   
 
 
   

Babylon in New York

Für seine CD "bestimmung new york" verwendete Bernhard Gal ausschliesslich Sprechstimmen. Trotzdem wurde Musik daraus.

"Ich liebe Dich, ich liebe Dich, ich liebe dich - nicht. " Mit mehr als angenehmen Timbre klingt eine Frauenstimme aus den Lautsprechern, wiederholt die verwirrende Liebeserklaerung, phrasiert rhythmisch so markant, dass spaetestens nach der dritten Wiederholung beim Hoerer das imaginaere Schlagzeug einsetzt. Doch der erwartete Break kommt nicht. Fuer seine erste CD "bestimmung new york" verwendete Bernhard Gal ausschliesslich Sprechstimmen, fuer jedes Stueck in einer anderen Sprache: Deutsch, Englisch, Ungarisch, BAskisch, Kantonesisch oder Urdu. "Eine Sprache, die man nicht versteht, nimmt man als reines Klangerlebnis wahr", erklaert der 28-jaehrige Tontechniker und Musikwissenschaftler sein Konzept in bester Musique-concrete-Tradition. "Diese Losloesung von Woertern und Saetzen aus ihrem semantisch-funktionalen Kontext interessiert mich." Also bat er waehrend seines Zivildienstaufenthaltes in New York einige Bekannte, ihm zusammenhangslose Saetze ("Ich liebe dich", "Ich heisse ...", "Ich bin ... Jahre alt", "Musik ist Klang, ist Rhythmus, ist Zeit, ist Leben") und die Zahlen von eins bis zehn in ihrer Muttersprache ins Mikro zu sprechen. Aufgenommen wurde - mangels Tonstudio - mit einem DAT-Rekorder in den Privatwohnungen der Sprecher. Keine leichte Aufgabe in einer Stadt, die niemals schlaeft: "Ich habe keinen einzigen wirklich stillen Ort in New York gefunden. Teilweise haben wir uns sogar ins Klo zurueckgezogen, um einigermassen Ruhe zu haben." Mit einem einfachen Sampler bearbeitete Gal anschliessend die Wortspenden, verzerrte und dehnte die Woerter, schnitt einzelne Silben und Laute heraus und stellte dieses Material zu 15 kurzen Stuecken zusammen - so raffiniert, dass daraus kein verfremdetes Hoerspiel wurde, sondern durchaus hoerbare Musik. Das russische Wort "mnja" etwa verdoppelte Gal im Quintabstand und machte eine bordunartige Endlosschleife daraus, die sich andauernd in sich verschiebt. Die arabischen Saetze wurden dutzendfach kopiert, transponiert und zu einem rhythmisch streng organisierten Stimmengewirr aufgeblasen. Und aus einigen spanischen Verschlusslauten konstruierte Gal einen Salsarhythmus. Einige Klaenge auf der CD sind gar nicht mehr als verfremdete Sprache zu erkennen. Manche Woerter hingegen werden Schritt fuer Schritt bearbeitet, sodass stets nachvollziehbar bleibt, was gerade passiert. Das englische "love" etwa laesst Gal immer tiefer transponiert wiederholen, bis es zu einem dreissigsekuendigen Bassgrummeln wird. Keine reine Spielerei fuer Gal: "Irgendwie moechte ich die Menschen dazu bringen, darauf zu achten, wie faszinierend die Klaenge um sie herum sind. Da habe ich durchaus paedagogische Ambitionen."

Carsten Fastner (Falter, Austria)

 
 

"Best of 1999"

Kenneth Goldsmith (WFMU, USA)

   
 
 

 

 

Bestimmung New York explores the concept of the human voice as a musical instrument. This is a concept you've probably run into before, either in the works of relatively mainstream artists (Laurie Anderson, Kraftwerk and their sampler-toting descendants) or more experimental pieces (many electro acoustic projects touch on this theme), but it's rarely addressed so exclusively or so thoroughly. If you break a spoken word into its component parts, it becomes a series of musical notes and rhythms. Gal examines, cuts, pastes, tweaks and resequences these phrases. For raw material, Gal has amassed a series of phrases, spoken by fifteen different voices in fifteen different languages. Split into pieces, they become an orchestra of vocal variation. Numerologists will be pleased to learn that Bestimmung New York contains fifteen tracks (one per speaker/language) -- apparently when Gal dissembles and reassembles voices, there aren't any parts left over. Bestimmung New York really gets you thinking about what a rich and varied instrument the human voice can be. For each individual voice, there are so many variables -- gender, age, emotion, language and environment are merely a few. Is a violin or a flute as variable? Languages like Thai, Urdu and Filipino seem far more delicate and musical than the harsh, clipped tones of English and German, but those languages establish their rhythms far more forcibly. In many of these pieces, tones that initially appear to be mere keyboard backing ultimately evolve into heavily manipulated vocal samples. Will this disc, as Gal puts it, "foster an awareness for the musical/sonic qualities of language"? Definitely. Don't approach it looking for pop songs, but neither should you be surprised if its word-collages turn out to be far more engaging than you expect them to be.

George Zahora (Splendidezine, USA)

 
 

Bernhard Gál, scultore sonoro proveniente dallo stesso humus che ha generato Michael J. Schumacher e Werner Dafeldecker, si presenta al primo appuntamento con il CD percorrendo trasversalmente i meandri del linguaggio. Il pasticchio di parole 'bestimmung' ben rappresenta l'atmosphera che aleggia in questi solchi mentre New York sta ad indicare un paesaggio culturale privo di orrizonti rappresentato nella sua essenza polliglotta; è infatti nella Grande Mela che, nell'estate del 1998, Gal ha registrato la voce di 15 amici/amiche e conoscenti di nazionalità diversa, i quali, ognuno nel proprio idioma, si sono espressi in formule banali come "io sono pinco pallino "ti amo" "uno-due-tre…dieci" ecc. In seguito Gal ha elaborato alcomputer ognuna della singole voci fino ad ottenere questi pezzi elettroacustici che, prima di ottenere il visto per il supporto CD, sono stati rodati attraverso installazioni sonore allestite in varie gallerie d'arte, anche come supporto per artisti visivi (a Salisburgo in collaborazione con il pittore austriaco G. S. Sedlak). Gal si cala nella musicalità dei vari idiomi, ne cattura la sensualità, la melodia, l'armonia, il ritmo e lascia intendere come il linguaaggio sia laforma musicale primigenia, insuperata, in quanto a perfezione e potere espressivo. In soldoni, nulla è più comunicativo del suono di una parola. Le manipolazioni al computer, i tagli e i montaggihanno l'unico scopo di strutturare le singole voci, senza alterarne la sostanza originaria, in architetture logiche e ben definite che mostrano senza equivoci il gusto e l'estro compositivo dell'autore. Inutile? Ovvio? Elementare? Non lo so, sicuramente ben fatto.

Etero Genio (Blow up, Italy)

   
 
 
   

Having recorded 15 different voices in 15 languages, gal then reassembled (usually with radical reprocessing) the resultant speech patterns into layered compositions of "spoken" rhythms... as there are no instruments, could these be considered (very!) avant garde a cappella works? Ayako's native Japanese tongue is slowed to a subterranean rumble, as well as a frog-like croak before her natural voice is heard, often repeating in phonetic soundshapes. Hungarian phrasing from Gabriel is stratified in highs and lows over a bi-syllabic "rhythm". Shattered into several thousand shards, Arabic language from Jamila trickles like granules of sand. And so it goes... Final perceptions will vary from listener to listener; being woefully mono-linguistic, I didn't "understand" 85% of the spoken content sources, though that doesn't block my appreciation of the fascinating sound constructions wrought from voices across the global language spectrum. In fact, given that the spoken material (upon actually being able to comprehend *parts* of Suzanne's English, and a smattering of Melina's breathy German and Maria's Spanish) appears to consist mainly of counting and "I love you", not understanding it each time's probably for the better really. Definitely compelling and strange, but not something I could listen to everyday...

David J Opdyke (AmbiEntrance, USA)

 
 

(..) A great release that offers some wonderful and really moving moments.

Norbert Schilling (Plate Lunch, Germany)

   
     

 

 

Die Weltstadt New York in ihren vielfältigen, schier nicht zu überblickenden akustischen Facetten auch nur annähernd fassen zu wollen, ist unmöglich. Dem/der KlangkünstlerIn mit dem Namen "gal" war dies bewusst, trotzdem ist es der CD bestimmung new york gelungen, das Mannigfaltige einzufangen. 15 Personen mit 15 verschiedenen Sprachen (Japanisch, Ungarisch, Philippinisch, Arabisch, Polnisch, Iwrit, Spanisch, Deutsch, Baskisch, Jiddisch, Russisch, Englisch, Thailändisch, Urdu, Kantonesisch) wurden aufgenommen. Grundlage der einzelnen Performances ist jeweils derselbe Text, jener wohl meistgesprochene Satz aller Sprachen mit seinem bekannten Negativderivat; "Ich liebe Dich" respektive "Ich liebe Dich nicht" - gepaart mit dem Aufsagen der Zahlen von eins bis zehn und mit wenig anderen aus dem Kontext vertrauten Wörtern wie "niemals dasselbe, tausendmal und immer wieder". Diese Wörter als Satz oder als Einzelwort, als Silbe liefern das Material für die verschiedenen Rhythmen, Sprachmelodien, die "gal" höchst kunstvoll digital kombiniert hat und von Sprachperformance zu Sprachperformance hinsichtlich Environment-Klanginterieurs geschickt und grundsätzlich modifiziert - was, nicht nur wegen des gelegentlichen Vocoder-Einsatzes, an Laurie Anderson erinnert. Vor allem die sehr virtuos gestalteten Sprach-Loops, die in sich verschobenen Phonem-Kanons prägen Stimmungs-Pattern, die spannend, ja aufregend sind, die Klangmischungen stimmen immer. Auch die durch die Wort-Verschachtelungen herausgelösten Textpartikel entstehenden Bedeutungsfelder ergeben viel Sinn.

Stefan Fricke (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Germany)

     

It is impossible to combine all acoustic facets of New York City. The sound artist gal was aware of this, nevertheless he succeeded in capturing the multifarious with his CD 'bestimmung new york'. 15 persons were recorded in 15 languages (Japanese, Hungarian, Filipino, Arabic, Polish, Hebrew, Spanish, German, Basque, Yiddish, Russian, English, Thai, Urdu, Cantonese). The basis of all pieces is always the same text, probably the most often spoken sentence of all languages with its well-known negative derivative: 'I love you' respectively 'I don't love you' - paired with the counting of the numbers 1 to 10 and a few other phrases like 'never the same', 'a thousand times', 'and again'. These words, either in full sentences or as single syllables, are the material for the various rhythms and speech melodies that gal digitally combines in the most elaborate way. He skilfully and profoundly alters each language regarding its inherent acoustic potential - which reminds of Laurie Anderson, not only because of the occasional use of vocoding. Especially the masterly arranged speech loops - shifting phonem-canons - create mood patterns that are exciting and thrilling, the sound balance is always right. Additionally, the new fields of meaning originating from detached text particles and word cascades, make a lot of sense.

Stefan Fricke (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Germany - translated by Gromoga Productions)

   
     
   

(..) Minimal sounds, voices manipulated,.... the whole looped, and done in a repetitive and minimal way.... creating an unique experimental work on repetition. (..)

Namskeio, Switzerland

     

Austrian Bernhard Gal is a finely talented sound manipulator and I was indirectly introduced to him thanks to John Duncan. "Bestimmung New York" explores human voice and foreign languages as decontextualized means to create a rhythm or a harmonic turning point, with formants and palatal sounds getting looped and altered in order to get insistent and/or caressing fragments - depending on the track. Though not the first to use voice as a primary instrument, Gal gets - again - right to the point in a very effective and rewarding work, at times reminding me of some of Carl Stone's best moments but with his own personality well grounded.

Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes, Italy)

   
     

 

 
(...) Perfino "Bestimmung New York" di Gal può essere inteso come reportage sonoro, nonostante le artificiose situazioni rappresentate e il corposo editing successivo, giacché l'obiettivo, una specie d'indagine sulla pluralità d'idiomi presente in una città come New York, viene perfettamente centrato, seppur sia (volutamente) esposto in un modo che ricorda più il varietà che la cronaca. (...)

Sands-zine, Italy
     
Having recorded 15 different voices in 15 languages, gal then reassembled (usually with radical reprocessing) the resultant speech patterns into layered compositions of "spoken" rhythms... as there are no instruments, could these be considered (very!) avant garde a cappella works? Ayako's native Japanese tongue is slowed to a subterranean rumble, as well as a frog-like croak before her natural voice is heard, often repeating in phonetic soundshapes. Hungarian phrasing from Gabriel is stratified in highs and lows over a bi-syllabic "rhythm". Shattered into several thousand shards, Arabic language from Jamila trickles like granules of sand. And so it goes... Final perceptions will vary from listener to listener; being woefully mono-linguistic, I didn't "understand" 85% of the spoken content sources, though that doesn't block my appreciation of the fascinating sound constructions wrought from voices across the global language spectrum. In fact, given that the spoken material (upon actually being able to comprehend *parts* of Suzanne's English, and a smattering of Melina's breathy German and Maria's Spanish) appears to consist mainly of counting and "I love you", not understanding it each time's probably for the better really. Definitely compelling and strange, but not something I could listen to everyday...

David J. Opdyke (AmbiEntrance, USA)
   
     

 

 
(...)

Die Stimme als Instrument wird auf der Veröffentlichung von GAL benutzt. Hier geht es auch um Assoziationen, die aber vor allem an der Artikulation abgearbeitet werden und nicht durch semantische Aussparung entstehen. In den verschiedensten Sprachen zugeordneten Abschnitten werden Sprechakte bearbeitet, indem ihre Geschwindigkeit manipuliert oder ihre Tonhöhe verändert wird. Oft werden einzelne Sätze so eng gedoppelt, dass ein Tohuwabohu aus wirrenden Vokalen entsteht. Der Babylonische Turm als Improvisationskonzept, mutig.

Auf Abwegen, Germany

     
New York, Babel und Nabel der Welt. Leider ist das Wien infolge mehr und mehr staatsinstitutionalisierter Ausgrenzung von sogenannten Fremden nicht. Aber immerhin produzierte der Wiener Bernhard Gál in der Wiener Gromoga Soundfactory dieses bemerkenswerte Album, auf dem er vielsprachige Worte in Musik umwandelt. 15 Personen sprechen einigermaßen banale Sätze wie „ich liebe Dich“ und die Zahlen eins bis zehn in ihrer jeweiligen Muttersprache in den DAT-Recorder. Gleich ob auf Polnisch, Urdu, Kantonesisch oder Jiddisch vorgetragen: Gal extrahiert mittels Sampler aus Sprachrhythmik, -melodie oder -klang der SprecherInnen die jeweils atmosphärischste Stimmung. Gal, dem es nicht um den semantischen Kontext geht, zwingt nicht wie Steve Reich die Stimme in eine kompositorische Umlaufbahn, sondern spielt mit dem jeweils sehr unterschiedlichen Stimmtimbre. Angetan hat es ihm der einzigartige Flow bzw. Klang von Sprache – die ja nach InterpretIn verschiedenartig moduliert wird. Also generiert Gal aus dem spanischen Beitrag gar salsaähnliche Rhythmen oder loopt aus der polnischen Sprache deren Musikalität ins Zentrum. Aus Worten wird Sound, wird Musik.

Alfred Pranzl (Skug, Austria)
   
     
     

 

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