Air Condition für Orchester

UA 29. Aug. 2013 – Quanta Symphony Orchestra, Taipei

Taipei Arts Festival, Zongshan Hall. Concert-Installation-Performance, objects and performance by Anne Tismer, text by Jade Chen. Review Taipei Times Report


Description of the composition

Approaching the composition “Approaching the Habitable Zone” began with the question: By which kind of influences is chaos turned into order?

Newton’s answer was: gravity. Science since has become quite precise in describing the evolution of our universe after the big bang. One short way to put it is: cooling down condensates pre-matter into matter, gravity turns moving matter into repetitious orbits.

Universe’s initial chaos is the emblematic chaos. There will always be chaos, it always interacts or counteracts with order or repetition. Chaos is more interesting than order, it’s infinitely fertile and rich. But without order nothing can be isolated from anything else.

That’s a basic description of music, too. Repetition transforms noise into tone.

The title of my piece, “Approaching the Habitable Zone”, refers to the part of a solar system that has exactly the right distance from the sun and thus the right temperature for life to evolve. Temperature of course is also a musical term.

There was a second initial impulse for “Approaching the Habitable Zone”. Today’s life, not only in big cities, is a motor reality. Many people spend their lifes at places with air condition sound. The windows are shut to keep out traffic noise, motors again. Also the curtains often are preferably shut. Instead the screens of computer, tv, and smartphone are running, alternative “windows”, run by a motor. Without the cooling motors these kinds of windows turn black or catch fire.
A motor is defined by repetitive movements, not very creative. We are exposed to motors all the time. The dominance of motor sound made me become interested in the question whether there could be a poetic aspect of the most unpoetic sound of the world. Maybe if the components of this sound are being produced by humans.

Strangely enough, the two ideas, air condition for orchestra and the creation of musical matter, matched very well. The result is matter and motor, a reflection on motor reality and a reconstruction of the beginning of matter and the self-development of order.

There will be also a little dedication to Wagner in the Zongshan Hall, since it’s his 200. birthday this year. He died three years before film was being invented, but he had already invented a major part of what became “Hollywood”. Not only the style of his suggestive and even manipulating music, but most of all the idea to hide the orchestra that plays it. In Bayreuth, you only see the singers, you don’t see any musician. This whole idea of emotionally moving music coming from the “off”, that is so important for hollywood still (and for department stores and subway stations), was preconceived and realized by Wagner. Our hommage to Wagner in Zongshan Hall is a hardly visible orchestra. It will be off in a way that’s rather above.

Graphic Part of Score

The composition consists of four parts.

1. The first 5 minutes are without tone, instead a development of different white noises, from a very fine and even hiss to a more crunchy and deep noise.


Eight minutes of sliding down. It starts with the highest instruments (violins and piccolo Flutes. Wind instruments imitate the slide by bending down notes before changing to the next, also playing the beginning of the new note a little softer) and finally includes all orchestra instruments.

Each instrument has their own line of sliding down.

AHZ graphic score1


After the noise part and the sliding tone, the first steady frequencies appear after 13 minutes. Rhythm evolves from the tam tam roll.

4. It ends up in the steady noise of an air condition for ten minutes with slight changes about every 60 seconds.

AHZ score1