"Ein Atemzug ist eine Skulptur"

(Marcel Duchamp)

MUSIK FÜR RÄUME ist Musik, die auf die Zeit als Gestaltungsebene verzichtet. In ihr gibt es keine Höhepunkte, keine Entwicklungen, keine Spannungsabläufe, keine Dramatik.

MUSIK FÜR RÄUME erzählt keine Geschichte. Es gibt bei ihr nichts, das vorher gehört werden muss, um Nachfolgendes verstehen zu können.

Vorher und Nachher sind austauschbar.

MUSIK FÜR RÄUME dehnt Momente aus, fasst Dauern zusammen, macht Gegenwart dingfest. Gegenwart, die die Bedeutung jedes einzelnen Bausteins und seine Beziehung zu jedem andern und zu deren Gesamtheit festlegt.

Ausbalancierte Zeit, die in der Erinnerung zum Zeitpunkt gerinnt.

MUSIK FÜR RÄUME ist Raum konstituierende – und in diesem sich ausbreitende – Zeit. Sich ausbreitend, Netze knüpfend, um ihre Verknüpfungspunkte Gestalten bildend; Skulpturen; musikalische Gesten; energetische Zustände.

Das dem Auge Abgewandte erinnernd, das Verklungene vergegenwärtigend, wird Zeit zum Raum.

Tonhöhen, Klangfarben, Impulsdichte, Tempo, Intervalle, Hüllkurven, Dynamik, Klangstrukturen sind, vergleichbar den Haltepunkten des architektonischen Raumes, zwischen denen das Auge geführt wird, die sozusagen plastischen Teile, die sich zum musikalischen Raum fügen, dessen Inneres freiliegt und der dem hörenden Zugang geöffnet ist.


Walter Fähndrich


Walter Fähndrich

Everyday, at the time of astronomical sunset. music plays for fifteen minutes in the Hoosac Marble Quarry.

A music made specifically for this space – created from within it.

There is no story here; instead, a space begins to emerge for the ears - everyday twice 22 minutes revealed from an ineffable perpetuity. But duration also plays no roll here; rather, a space becomes audible within the transition of day and night.

The sequence changes every time, sounds arriving alone, in twos, in threes, interspersed with pauses, interwoven with one another, sustaining and creating space for each other; gentle, quiet, playful and unpredictable -- open -- weaving a fine web across this crescent.

Does the twilight breathe? Small eerie lights appear . . . and the forest sings.

Was all this not already here?


Thomas Meyer

In the heart of the clearing on the Schoenthalköpfli, the south-western foothill of the Schattenberg, in the middle of the meadow, at a respectful distance from the protective forest, stand three linden trees, close together; resembling an equilateral triangle, they shoot up and appear to draw together the forces of the location. It is a place of rest on this small protruding hillock, but not a lookout point. The view is limited by the other trees. Only on one side can one see further up the Schattenberg: one’s gaze is first drawn to Ulrich Rückriem’s grey sculpture before moving up to the Ankerballen cliff.

The Froburg Order knew of the gentle seclusion of the location when it founded its monastery here in approximately 1140, at the foot of the hill in the "beautiful valley". Who knows how long the three linden trees have stood there? It seems likely that humans planted them neatly on this crest in the middle of the meadow where cattle graze and which is now also in the centre of a park. The place has an atmosphere all of its own and allows one to conjure up all manner of images and tales immediately.

"Under the gentle sea of flowers / in the shade of green linden trees / where the devout lambs graze / there you shall find your little bed", wrote Clemens Brentano in his "Italian Fairy Tale". And Annette von Droste-Hülshoff speaks of an old priest walking quietly "through the park of linden trees, protecting the gentle, flowering violet". The linden tree was a favourite of the German Romantic period, a locus amoenus, a place of timeless tales, a kindly place of idylls and introspection, of love and death. This is where lovers meet for secret assignations and also where they are laid to rest. The linden trees whisper gently in the wind, they rustle loudly or a deathly silence reigns. It is also a location for a special kind of listening: one often spontaneously hears the sound of nature.

Now, before sunrise and after sunset, this spot is transformed for 22 minutes, for the duration of 'citizen’s dusk', the time when the sun is between 0 and 6 degrees below the horizon and citizens could still (or already) work in their garden. At dusk, this spot between the linden trees starts to come alive – at least to the ear. From small loudspeakers mounted in ten locations among the surrounding trees over a circumference of 270 degrees, sounds can be heard – usually individual ones, sporadically intervals or triads: they rise and fade away again, they overlap or leave pauses between individual sounds. These are sine tones in the medium and high area, glassy, light and of a brittle beauty. They resound through the dusk for 22 minutes, ever rotating in free constellations and always sinking back into silence.

There is no soloist at work and no ensemble to catch one’s attention. Concentration is given total freedom. There is no concert resounding before an audience and no sound installation that encircles visitors possessively and takes them captive. The space between the three linden trees does not hum with sound, the listener does not float in a bath of music. At the level of listening – at the height of eyes and ears – the place becomes an intimate, breathing sound space. The sound does not travel far beyond the space, although it can just be heard from Rückriem’s sculpture. In this way it remains internalised, gains a tentative life of its own for a brief interval and blends with nature.

There is no scenic representation here, no romantic story, no mystical ritual: just presence – and a moment of listening that has something timeless about it. Indeed, through the unpre-tentious, resounding sound piece the place suddenly receives its own aura: strange, unob-trusive and without pathos. The forest sings, causing people’s gaze to change, too. They see things in a softer light: – more open – perhaps – to the other senses, to the imagination. Images and associations are conjured up. This corresponds to the description that Walter Fähndrich himself once gave of his "Music for Rooms": it can be "compared to dusk that tries to envelop what one sees and then leaves us uncertain whether – if we look for a long time – the coming into focus means an ascent into knowledge of their structures or a descent into the imagination". In this way the place and its observer are accompanied from day into night or back into day again.


Ernst Lichtenhahn

Fähndrich's Music for Weimar does not take up the musical traditions of the City of Culture: neither Germany's first opera house, nor the young Bach; neither Wieland's conception of the German "Singspiel", Goethe's "art of the Lied", or Liszt's Symphonic Poem. Fähndrich takes a new approach in creating music for spaces. Although traditional music fills spaces with sound, the space serves primarily as a medium and is not the primary source of the music. With Walter Fähndrich, this is different: the spaces themselves - the bend in the river Ilm, the "Schlosshof" and the Belvedere memorial - are themselves rendered musically and themselves made to resonate in their own way. However, this music is not only oriented to the features of the space - be it internal or external space - but conveys to each listener moving within the space his own, utterly personal space-and-sound experience, depending on his moment of entry, his selected position and the change in his position. This is a conscious experience of space through sound, whilst serving, as Fähndrich once put it, as "an encouragement to develop imaginary spaces, 'inner' spaces". What is being initiated here is a new and unconventional conception of music as spatial art.

Traditionally, we have a different understanding of music. The generally familiar idea, which has dominated the modern age, is that of music as a "language of feelings", where the nature of music achieves fulfilment in the imitation of the "sounds of the human soul". This is not confined solely to music with words; even music without words basically works in the same traditional way at least in our western culture - mostly like vocal music, in setting processes in motion, narrating stories, unfolding like a plot, and thus in its own way referring to music as a "language of feelings". Such music is essentially temporal art. lt has its beginning and its end, expositions, developments and recapitulations, and in this form also demonstrates its independence of space. In the rendition of the work, the performance, we are tied to its realization in time if we wish to perceive and comprehend a piece in its entirety. A brief glance at a picture can give us an impression of the whole, whilst a brief auditory "glimpse" of a sonata cannot. The musical moment has its Before and After; the sequence of parts has its necessary order, its process-like, narrative logic. In the age of the electroacoustic transmission of music, we may have become used to treating music differently, by switching it on and off, and by listening with greater or lesser intensity. Nevertheless, we are still conscious that we have only heard extracts, that the beginning or end was missing, and that the whole piece occupies a certain period of time and in a certain way structures and fills this time. This, at any rate, is what we are used to: music as temporal art, and composition as a creative process in time.

Even this type of music is certainly not simply "transitory", nor simply temporal art; here, too, a seemingly spatial Arrangement of the whole may linger in the memory. And during the process of listening, spatial ideas may combine with such rnusic, more or less consciously depending on the personal disposition and on the type of the sound event. Long, "static" sounds with barely perceptible changes as in many works of Ligeti, symmetrical, block-like structures as in Bruckner's symphonies, or even the continuous repetition or "return" of a tiny motif as in many extra-European musical styles may all lead to the suspension of time in favour of the spatial experience in the listener's imagination. Many composers of the 20' century have even suspended the dictates of time and of the fixed Before and After by leaving scope for varying the length of the performance or by not specifying the order in which the parts are performed.

However, Fähndrich's "Music for Spaces" goes a step further. The question of the congruence of space and music is not aimed here solely at the conventional: for instance, in examining the relationship of sound volume to room volume, or of musical information density to reverberation time and the like. First of all, it refers to the fundamental fact that the activities of thinking and speaking about music have always been closely associated with spatial conceptions. This does not apply to the same extent and in the same way to all civilizations; conventions undoubtedly play their part; in our case the convention of musical notation which represents the temporal flow of music on the horizontal axis and pitch on the vertical axis. This may have influenced our speaking of "high" and "low" notes. At the same time, there are natural relationships between sound and space: periodic fluctuations in the density of matter, so-called sound waves, propagate themselves in space. The more periods per time unit or, in other words, the higher the oscillation frequency, the higher the pitch and the shorter now measurable in spatial units - the wavelength. The fact that the long organ pipe produces the low note and the short one the high note is readily comprehended in everyday experience. Here again - at least in principle and disregarding the behaviour of different materials - certain law-like rules apply: on organ pipes just as on instrument strings, halving the length yields the higher octave of the base note, the ratio 2:3 the fifth, 3:4 the fourth etc. Spatial dimensions correspond to wavelengths, and spatial proportions to intervals. This is something to work with, and Walter Fähndrich bases his music on such dimensions and proportions - in Weimar, for instance, those of the facade of Belvedere Palace.

It would be a mistake, however, to merely sec in this the physical basis of musical material. For centuries, in Ancient Greece and in the European Middle Ages, music - the "scientia musicae" just as the "ars musica" - was considered the science and art of numbers and numeric relationships. This is illustrated by the division into the three categories of "musica mundana" or "caelestis", "musica humana" and "musica instrumentalis". The object of reflection on the first, top level here is the macrocosm: the relationships between the paths and orbital periods of the planets, i.e. the "harmony of the spheres". On the middle level, it is a question of the microcosm, man in his physical but also in his intellectual and spiritual proportions, and of his (postulated or yet to be achieved) harmonic representation of the grand world order. Only on the third, bottom level is it a question of what we understand by music: the (both vocal and instrumental) tonal rendition of numbers and proportions in melodic and chordal intervals as well as in musical tempi.

Because, however, a representational relationship determines these three levels and because in the thought at that time there was no suggestion of mere analogies or even of metaphors, it is quite clear that music is the tonal nexus with the microcosm, and is expected to represent and convey in its own proportions the intellectual and spiritual harmony of man, by virtue of its own representational relationship which binds it to the macrocosm of the grand world order. This is a music which corresponds to spatially visible dimensions and proportions at the same time, brings them to consciousness and experience, and is capable of referring anew and in novel ways to such relationships.

The relationships in themselves are, as already mentioned, not new; the conception of music as the art of numbers and proportions has its own Tradition going back centuries. Only this cosmological understanding of music has increasingly receded in favour of the anthropological and psychological, and of the idea of music as the "language of feelings" and thus as temporal art. The memory of the older, spatial concept of music and of the cosmological comprehension of the world on which it is based has not been entirely lost. In the early 191 century, the doctor and natural philosopher Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert in his Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft (Opinions from the Dark Side of Natural Science) once speculated on whether the resonance of Nature, which, as he says, "now manifeste itself as a tempest with a brute and inorganic noise, ... was perceived as a true note" at the dawn of history, and "whether the ancient legends of the harmony of the spheres and of the resonance of the universe truly contained a grain of truth". Real, composed music would then be a code, echo and memory of that harmonious ancient time.

The echo of this can also be found in Weimar's intellectual history. Christoph Martin Wieland's musical ideas, which he links in his Gesicht einer Welt unschuldiger Menschen (Face of a World of Innocent People) with his vision of the Golden Age, include not only a hymn in praise of mankind but also the sound of Nature itself as "a harmonious murmuring between the trees as if every leaf had become a voice". In his Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (Ideas on the Philosophy of Human History), Johann Gottfried Herder expresses the proposition that human understanding had perhaps never "ventured and in some respects successfully completed a bolder leap" than when it "contrived and established the simple, eternal and perfect laws of the formation and motion of the planets". In Herder's opinion, the historic observation of mankind must find its starting point in this thus identified harmonious world order in order to follow the "traces of that great creative force" in all parts and in its tiniest constituents.

In Goethe's understanding of music, the emphasis is certainly on the notion of the language of feelings; indeed, he refers to it as "the true element whence all poetry springs and whither it returns". In connection with his natural scientific work, he nevertheless sought to approach music from the other, cosmological and mathematical point of view. For instance, at the end of the didactic section of his Farbenlehre (Theory of Colour) there is a brief section on the "Relationship to the Theory of Sound". Both, colour and sound, are regarded by Goethe as "general elementare effects acting subject to the general law of separation and striving together, vacillating up and down, and swaying back and forth". Goethe thus refers to consonance and dissonance as well as to the general dynamics and dispersion of musical vibrations in space. Admittedly, Goethe sees difficulties in uniting these two observations - that of the natural scientific principles with "historically" developed music; the dissolution into "its primary physical elements" would harbour the risk of genuinely "destroying" the "historical" tonal art as the "music arising in strange empirical,...aesthetic, inspired ways". Nevertheless, Goethe does not rule out the possibility that "time and occasion" may give rise to a new observation to the extent that a new standard is achieved in art and science.

Against this background, Walter Fähndrich's Music for Weimar does indeed encourage new observations appropriate to the characteristics of the location. Undergoing constant change, it initially appears to us as spatial art, as resonance shaping space and creating space and yet not binding us to temporal, plot-like narrative processes. Moments fuse to yield impressions of the static. The proportions deliberately implanted in the work and derived from the spaces themselves reinforce this impression and refer at the same time to those ancient notions of a Nature-given order manifesting itself musically. And yet, this music is anything but the mere execution of rigid laws. In the choice of sounds recorded by instruments or developed on the computer - in the interplay of the registers, and also in the diversity of constantly changing series of uni- or multivocal sounds, complete artistic freedom unfolds within it. There is only a single necessary bond with the laws of Nature: when Fähndrich's music changes from space to space each day, precisely at the moment of the astronomical sunrise and sunset, it subordinates itself to that higher order which, as Herder emphatically stressed, is imposed upon all life on earth; for "the entire space and sphere of action of my race is... as predetermined and circumscribed as the mass and path of the earth upon which I lead my life".