Treatise on Musical Objects
Radio station: Dlf Kultur – Klangkunst
Venue/s of the event: Kantine am Berghain
Links: Thomas Ankersmit
audio stream: Live- Stream
video stream: +
Live from Kantine am Berghain, Berlin
A collaboration between Deutschlandfunk Kultur (Klangkunst), Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD, Ultraschall Berlin – Festival für Neue Musik and Berghain, Elektroakustischer Salon
Treatise on Musical Objects
by Thomas Ankersmit
Modular-Synthesizer: Thomas Ankersmit
Thomas Ankersmit thinks of himself as a painter with sound; he doesn’t use samples or a multitude of instruments, just a single Serge Modular analogue synthesizer for all his material, shaping sounds one layer – and one patchcord – at a time.
For Ultraschall, Ankersmit performs a work-in-progress inspired by Pierre Schaeffer’s seminal 1966 book “Treatise on Musical Objects”.
This text of Schaeffer’s – the French composer, inventor of musique concrète, and founder of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) – contains his groundbreaking research about composing with “sound objects” of any origin. Despite its influential reputation, the book was only published in English for the first time a few months ago – over fifty years after its original French publication.
In these performances, Ankersmit puts Schaeffer’s research into personal practice, translating musique concrète concepts to a dynamic, occasionally violent live electronic music. Ankersmit sets himself the challenge of making his electronic apparatus behave like the “real world” sonic phenomena associated with musique concrète, employing experimental playing techniques and creative abuse of the instrument to produce and shape electronic sounds with an organic character.
Bridging the divide between the electroacoustic music of the 20th century and the contemporary experimental underground, the project explores how complex sound-morphologies can be constructed through layering and montage, how sound events can create tension and energy when they’re freed from a grid, and how sonic density and transparency can co-exist.
The project was commissioned by INA-GRM in Paris, and Deutschlandradio Kultur in Berlin.
Thomas Ankersmit (Netherlands, 1979) is a musician and composer based in Berlin and Amsterdam.
Since 2006 his main instrument, both live and in the studio, has been the Serge Modular synthesizer. Ankersmit has long-term collaborations with New York minimalist Phill Niblock and Italian composer Valerio Tricoli. His music is released on the Touch and PAN labels.
Acoustic phenomena such as sound reflections, infrasonic vibration, otoacoustic emissions, and highly directional projections of sound play a central role in his work. His music is also characterized by a deliberate misuse of the equipment, using feedback and disruptions to the signal, and the extremes of frequency and dynamics, to create visceral but finely detailed swarms of sound.
Ankersmit has performed throughout Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and Asia. His work has been presented at venues such as Hamburger Bahnhof and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle, Basel; Tate Modern, London; Serralves Museum, Porto; MoMA PS1, New York; and at festivals for experimental and contemporary music all over the world.
Current projects include commissioned works for CTM and Berghain (Berlin) based on infrasound and architectural resonance, and for GRM (Paris) based on the research of Pierre Schaeffer, as well as a spatial sound project for 4DSOUND, and new live electronic music with Phill Niblock.