KOAN #4: Compositions

In my first phase of practice and writing, I took one Koan after another and recorded pieces using only its letters in the specific order to form a composition. This exercise was fruitful in at least four ways:

I was not controlling or expressing everything that came out of me, but letting some part of the composition happen by chance. It helped me to get a lot out of the simple letters and their sonic qualities. It forced me to stay longer periods of time in places where I didn’t intuitively have stayed and when listening back it can be quite effective.

AND…. I felt an immense NEED TO INTERACT.

The stricter the plan was, the more I had the temptation of breaking it. I somehow tried sticking to the uncomfortable feeling a little longer. I omitted all the harmony and melody for a while and really concentrated on making music with sounds. (sound example “The Body Entire”). That opened up my sense for the micro-sounds and structure of the piece in other layers and dimensions than melody- harmony.


This way of working made me realize more and more that for me, at least how I perceive it at the moment, music realizes itself in sound and in instant reactions and I want to have the door open to reacting these impulses with my instrument – my voice. Therefore I ended up quite soon making more open compositions that are mostly based on dogmas and restrictions of limiting the choices in improvisations to a few sounds or ideas instead of aiming strictly to stay with the preordered plan.

The texts worked for me as a playground, I was chopping them into pieces, re-organizing and varying the speed and direction and order. How I organized them varied. Sometimes omitting all the vocals, sometimes omitting all the consonants or the mixture of these. Also, only using one or two categories or “types” of sound was one exercise.