Friday, December 30, 2005

The Imaginary Musician - a suggestion to organizers about financing, grants and employment + moneylinks

John Cage used radio's. He used them in his compositions. As a title he chose 'imaginary landscapes'. It's not important why he used this title. In the eighth and nineth century, and maybe also in later years, Sufi's described their visions: a world full of bliss; everything was drenched by the presence of The One. In fact, some scholars thought it was a portrait of The One, result of religious ecstasy. The visions were called 'imaginary worlds'.

The imaginary landscape and the imaginary world define as such, also, a distance. It is the same distance as - for example - a present day listener has to music, be it at home, in a concert hall, in his car or in a bar. Music is a vehicle for his emotions; it can even conserve that emotion and transport it through time.Of course, music is so much more, otherwise it wouldn't be a subject to study. But whatever music is, it is nameable as music: classical, experimental, jazz, pop, folk. If you want you can start whistling before having heard the tune.

In the margins of the musical world the works of soundicians are hard to define. A wide range of terms are used, none of them is generally accepted as the one. The result is some kind of music that is almost impossible to define, to institutionalise, or - in a less official way - to organise.This doesn't mean that those involved in producing sounds that cannot bear a definition, don't want to receive financing. Talking for myself I would gladly receive a yearly grant, but I find it difficult to catch my sound works in a kind of prose that explains it all.

That's why I would like to introduce 'The Imaginary Musician', because he doesn't exist. He is a product of the imagination of the listener. Okay, there will be someone to orchestrate - navigate - create - organize sounds into a whole that will redefine space in whatever way. But the outcome of this redefinition will be an experience to which the listener is the initiator. In accepting the part of the imaginary musician, the soundician becomes the first one to disappear. It will be superfluous to name his sounds, because it doesn't matter anymore. The listener has become the nominator.

I know it is a trick, in the same way as the opera house, the stage or an expensive audio equipment are tricks. These widely accepted cultural institutions have a direct and profound impact on the behaviour of the audience.

Now there is a way to institutionalise the imaginary musician. And here is the part about financing, which is a very down to earth part. It is up to organizers and their organisations to employ the imaginary musician. Just put him on the pay list. What is the task of the imaginary musician? He has to be at a certain place at a certain time and produce sounds.

Those who give grants are very fond of projects. A project is an ongoing process, that maybe sometime will result in something definitive. No one has an idea, what the outcome will be. It is so much easier to hide once activity in a project. Employing an imaginary musician is an ideal project, because it is about nothing and something at the same time. It's about an anonymous soundician appearing and disappearing into sound. And it's about money. The imaginary musician could earn 12.000 euro a year. It is not that much. It is 1000 euro a month. From that money tickets, accommodation and fee can be paid. 1000 euro a month is a minimum wage. But for that money you can get at least four quality concerts a month.

financing :

financing in the european comunity: go to grants and check out the links

finding funds, lobbying and other strategies :

financing your music in europe:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The House of Hannover (one) : An Encounter with Sonic Vegetables

A grey beard, a hood to cover my head and the sickening illumination on the platform didn't do any good to my appearance: it was too severe. Arne, my host at Feinkostlampe, couldn't suppress a slight sense of fear that crawled over his face, when he saw me. When I arrived at the club I found out that it was not my resemblance to a prophet at the point to lay cities in ashes, that had impressed him: I looked exactly like Herr Ferdinand Lampe, the last proprietor of the grocery-shop Feinkost Lampe. A photograph on the wall in the kitchen was there to proove it. I looked at it in astonishment, and realised again that I needed a shave, badly. Then I took a pumpkin from a big pile, and tried to explain how west-africans make a ballophone.

The history of Feinkostlampe, the club, started when Arne, as a child, got saved from a future life as a thieve thanks to Ferdinand Lampe. Arne wanted to steal an apple, and Ferdinand saw it, ticked on the window and called the boy inside. The old man wasn't angry with the boy. He offered him a delivery-job on saturdays. Arne stayed for years. His job made it possible to finance his study. When time lay his heavy hand on the shoulders of Herr Lampe, Arne was offered to take over the shop. It took him a long time to decide. He liked the smell of the fresh vegetables, that mingled with that of wood and jute sacks filled with potatoes. It was a smell that came from the years before he was born, because Herr Lampe had never modernized his shop. But the young man didn't see himself selling cabages for the rest of his life; he heard music.

In comes Pahli, his girlfriend. The shop got redesigned: tables and christmaslights, easy chairs and chaisse-longues, the counter remained to serve as a bar, and also the name stayed the same. It would open every thursday. A bottle of beer will cost you one euro, and the programme is open to surprises. Pahli and Arne both work for local radio. Moreover Pahli belongs to a group of young writers, while Arne has learned to cook from Ferdinand's wife, Lotte.

The evening I performed I had pumpkin soup. And on a table was dough and extra sweeties. And the place was full. And they all smoked. Ugh. And the ladies were making cookies. And the next day I had breakfast. And the sun was out. And when I got back to Wuppertal the town was covered by christmassnow. And bells were ringing. And the salvation army was singing. And there was peace on earth and bratwurstsmell in the streets.

radio flora :

feinkost lampe :

Organisation für angewandte Literatur :
go to : oral bühne (in near future :

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hamburger Chronicles ( four ) : A Letter to Frau von Welck and Miss Young and an answer

Dear Frau von Welck and dear Miss Young,

We all know that life is beautiful, and that we are offered a great view from our place in this world. I visited Hamburg for the first time when winter came to Germany. It was cold and wet, nonetheless I liked the town. I didn't enter it from the rich side. Mine was rather modest, very modest from the financial point of view: Two concerts earned me 22 euro.

I don't want to write on the cultural importance of a marginal movement. This letter is not meant to point out what curiosity and love for music can bring about, even if there is no budget. From my little correspondence I understand how many details there are to pay attention to. That's why I can understand that lots of appointments, programmes and organisations all pleaing for support, can lead to a status quo wherein marginal situations remain marginal. ( A situation that might encounter faith from your side: it needs a strong and convinced person to go on without financial help)

The no-budget foundations work that way. Each one involved, knows that support from cultural or political organisations is hard to get at. This letter is one of the attempts to change this situation, if not incidently, maybe structurally.

That's why I propose some actions to you.

The first one is to visit a concert every now and then, that takes place in this no-budget circuit. Go there, also incognito, and when the hat goes round leave some money in it.

The other action is more on an organisational level. The city of Hamburg could employ an imaginary musician, and pay him 250 euro a month. Once or twice a month, this musician will perform in one of the no-budget venues. He/she/they will get payed 125 euro. The identity of the imaginary musician will be revealed with each concert. Of course it is a changing identity, because the organizers will invite a different musician or group of musicians with every concert.

A more concrete example how representatives from the marginal world could get involved in an organisation with a real budget is Projektgruppe Neue Musik. They get financial support from the City of Bremen. Their website can tell you more.

Last but not least, your special attention might go out to those who spend time and energy organizing a concert. It costs them money and most of the time they don't apply for help at all, because a negative answer could cause a draw-back, add to frustration and eventually lead to stop their activity.

It's almost christmas. A little present always warms the heart. Try.

yours sincerely,

Rinus van Alebeek

verband für aktuelle musik hamburg:
projektgruppe neue musik (bremen) :

On the 27th of December I got an answer.
Frau von Welck emphasized the importance of a marginal movement. But she also regretted that the scene was too fragmentised. Maybe the newly founded VAMH would develop itself into an organisation from where financed events would start. She also liked to state that my idea of employing an imaginary musician would make a chance if offered as a 'project'.

Miss van Welck is Kultursenatorin in Hamburg, which means that in the 'government' of Hamburg, she is the minister of culture. Miss Young is occupied with the musical sector.

(personal note: those who live in Hamburg are free to do so.)

Here is the letter from Frau von Welck:
(in German)

Sehr geehrter Herr van Alebeek,

Senatorin Prof. Dr. Karin von Welck hat Ihre Email vom 12. Dezember erhalten und mich gebeten, Ihnen zu antworten.

Sie haben sicher Recht mit Ihrer Einschätzung, dass musikalische Nischen - gerade in einer Großstadt - von besonderer Bedeutung sind, auch wenn Sie diesen Gesichtspunkt eigentlich gar nicht besonders betonen wollten. Auch habe ich mit Interesse zur Kenntnis genommen, dass Sie auf eine strukturelle Perspektive abheben und dabei auf die Projektgruppe Neue Musik in Bremen verweisen, weil Ihnen aufgefallen ist, dass es eine vergleichbare Institution in Hamburg nicht gibt.

Und damit sind wir beim Kern des Problems: In Hamburg gibt es eine Vielzahl von Ensembles, Initiativen und einzelnen Künstlerinnen und Künstlern, die es bislang vorziehen, sich in kleineren Einheiten zu vernetzen. Bis jetzt ist es nicht gelungen, eine allseits akzeptierte Dachorganisation zu schaffen, die die Interessen derjenigen vertritt, die sich als Musikschaffende generell dem Bereich der Neuen Musik zuordnen. Deshalb beobachtet die Kulturbehörde mit besonderem Interesse die Entwicklung des im letzten Jahr gegründeten Verbands für Aktuelle Musik.

Ihre Projekt-Idee zum „Imaginären Musiker“ könnte beispielsweise als Antrag bei der Jury zur Vergabe von Projektmitteln im Bereich E-Musik eingereicht werden (Abgabefrist: 1.11.2006). Ein solches Projekt wäre sicher sehr geeignet, die Kooperationsmöglichkeiten der verschiedenen Initiativen auszuloten und eine stärkere Vernetzung der einzelnen Segmente zu erreichen. Dies wäre sehr wünschenswert.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hamburger Chronicles (three) - Wandering years

When I saw Heiner Metzger for the first time, he was a shadow standing in front of a big glass box: a fish restaurant not far from the landing stage. Before that, he had been a pleasant voice in a telephone, and before that he was words in a mail, and before that he was a mailaddress. Shortly after introducing each other, he became my chauffeur. And then I understood from his words - and from his age - that he was an inhabitant from sonoria, who had seen and played some places, starting of with jazz, now involved in something that resists nametagging. Hamburg got crystallized by drizzling rain. We drove past big buildings; he pointed at the television tower and at the park. The tires ripped open the asphalt. The musicians of Trio Vopa joined us, dressed against the cold, loaded with instruments and amplifiers. The view got reduced to noses and shoulders.

Blinzelbar resisted bravely at the huge mass of concrete that grew out of her head. In it bicycle wheels, drawings and Heiners scores framed and thus transformed into documents. Blinzeln means to wink. Instead of a bar, full of people winking at each other, it was a white space exposing things that should be winkable. Judith had been so kind to offer her gallery. All is clean on the art-frontier: Trio Vopa played a very accurate set; in their music I heard the transparency of bauhaus design, and a belief that today's experiment is tomorrow's tradition: young pioneers they were. And the listeners were very silent, hesitated with their applause at the end of each piece.

After my set we got some more chance to talk with eachother. Here comes Judith's little story. But first I have to make clear that Judith is from Bayreuth, a place with a bombastic heritage. And, if we put Heiner's, mine and Judith's age together we could become a person, who in his youth had wittnessed the same landscapes and country roads as Wagner had seen from his carriage. He (or she) might have stolen his beret. Would it have changed history? In this/his/our nineteenth century one could still encounter a young man, whose suit would inform us that he was on his wandering years, an apprentice travelling by foot from one village to the other, where he would offer his help to a craftsman, and thus through practice become a master himself.

Judith had driven a hitchhiker to Weimar. On the mainsquare Goethe and Schiller are two bronze statues, arms around eachother's shoulders, ready to start singing. Weimar is also a word that is married to Republic, which stands for a period in history that was destroyed by crises and the national-socialist movement. The hitchhiker didn't have an exact destination in mind. Judith happened to go there. And it was allright for her temporary travel-companion. He told her that he was a tailor. He travelled with his sewing machine and a suitcase. When he arrived in a new town, he would ask for a job. If there was, he would stay, if there wasn't, he would go on.
Judith thought this would be a nice idea for musicians. It is. Just read on.

heiner metzger and blinzelbar :

axel haller from trio vopa :

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Manual for a last-minute-concert network

In these dark days before christmas it is hardly imaginable that a musician steps into a steaming bar, his coat shiny from the rain, water dripping from his nose, and asks the barkeeper if he could play some of his music, go around with a hat afterwards, and maybe get enough money to buy some peasoup with a big sausage.
Well, he might have a chance if he carries along a guitar, or a violin, and a beautiful girl with a nice voice and inviting dancing steps. But what happens if he presents his equipment and it is all boxes and wires?

Concerts have to be prepared way in advance. A little exception to this rule is the DOVES-day initiative in Italy.

What follows is a text by Domenico Sciajno. In it he introduces DOVES-DAY, and gives some guidelines as well. Thank you, Domenico.

DOVES (Day Off Venues for the Experimental Scene)

It is a system i defined in order to facilitate the management of a
last-minute-concert network for the experimental scene in Italy.
I implemented it through the iXem website and it has been developed as
a project handles by ANTITESI cultural association (
The acronym DOVES (Day Off Venues for the Experimental Scene) refers to
“the venues for the electronic scene where performances in tour days
off will be held”.

This new initiative is of paramount importance and is based on the
creation of a network of independent venues fit to host performances of
Italian or foreign artists touring Italy.
 We developed a serie of 'online' tools in order to report artist's
schedule and availability or to consult the active iXem’s DOVES in

These instruments are meant to coordinate both local (all venues in
every cities/provinces) and national activities (organized network
connecting all venues in every cities/provinces).
 We believe that the artists themselves and knowledgeable promoters
shall muster their energy and creativity to build this network.
Unconventional, heterodox music and experimental electronics would be
given a broader exposure through an alternative medium making up for
the lack of interest and competence of the mainstream promoters.
The idea of the iXem’s DOVES was born from the Electric Garden (the
mapping archive), revealing an interesting reality on a national scale
and its distribution.

Here is a general guidance on the setting up and utilization of DOVES
in Italy.

1. Who:

 Four people living in the same city/province (use as a reference the
Electric Garden, the mapping archive) meet to find one or more venues
to run independently and resource (each time in case of itinerary
venues) in order to host performances of artists on tour in Italy, be
they foreign or Italian and connected or not to iXem and its

2. Where:

 The venue(s) will have to meet the following requirements:
 - At least a 20/30 attendants capacity.
 - A first-rate PA system appropriate to the size of the venue.
 - Visual display units if necessary.
 - A minimal technical support for any specific need.

3. What the artists are offered:

 - The whole proceeds or a percentage from door sales to be defined
according to the venues and the event. Also a guaranteed fee where
applicable. Every local DOVES can decide their payment policies as long
as they follow the principles of cultural promotion rather than profit.
 - Arrival and departure transports from/to the train/bus
station/airport. Travel expenses between DOVES are borne by the artist
unless previously agreed and arranged.
 - At least one overnight stay with a clean and decent accommodation in
a private house or possibly in a hotel.
 - At least a meal and breakfast.
 - The possibility to sell merchandise before and after the show.
 - Extensive promotion of the event through all available local and
national channels (radio stations, mailing lists, internet, magazines
and newspapers, etc…) in order to give it the largest exposure.

4. To whom:

 The iXem DOVES circuit addresses artists having days off in their
Italian tours, or artists intending to make a promotional tour in
Italy, be they foreign or Italian and connected or not to iXem and its
 A tour schedule including the various DOVES is recommended for foreign
artists touring Italy for one or a few events only (concert,
installation, workshop) and wanting to extend their national tour to
more dates.
 On the other hand, Italian artists may want to contact the iXem’s
DOVES network to present a new live project or to promote a new
 Every iXem DOVES is free to decide and define independently their
aesthetic and artistic orientations as long as they follows the
principles of cultural promotion rather than profit and closely focus
on interdisciplinary electro-acoustic experimentation.
 A sensible national logistic coordination is recommended anyway.

5. When:

 Dates will be as often as possible arranged in accordance to the
touring artist’s main event, around which iXem’s DOVES will be
activated locally and coordinated nationally.
 Every iXem DOVES is free to decide and arrange available dates
 A sensible national logistic coordination is recommended anyway.

 6. A practical example can be read in the following link. However,
because of the low budget profile of this system, we can anticipate
that artists will not make a good profit on DOVES tours, which will be
instead profitable in terms of artistic promotion. Yet, a minimum fee
to support and make the tour possible will be guaranteed. Artists
therefore need to be aware of the economic drawbacks of this system,
which can still be cost-effective if at least one or two performances
in festivals or high budget happenings are arranged.

Further information
list of venues

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hamburger Chronicles ( two ) : Freitagsmusik and the falafel empire

Few people had shown up at Freitagsmusik (Friday's music). The venue was in an ex-occupied house, left door. The squatters had legalized themselves in the management-years that almost lay behind us. What was left on streetlevel were two rooms, that they had rented out to a group of people of which Silvia Necker - of freitagsmusik - was one. Two times a month she and Joachim Lützow organized a concert, mostly with local musicians, because they didn't have the money to pay for travel expenses. The rent was paid out of the profits from the bar; money for the musician(s) rolled out of the hat that went round after the concert.

Open the door, leave the cold outside, close the door - what wonders me is the abscence of a little bell ringing, like in a classical grocery shop. Minimal bar, wooden floor, lights dimmed, two persons there, smiles - "You must be...?" "Hello, I am..." Everything has to be improvised at the last moment. Set-up, here? there? what table?, where is the p.a.? - no p.a. - no loudspeakers. I am pleasantly puzzled. Joachim runs down the stairs and comes back with an old guitar-amplifier. It has a lovely sound. I hide it under the red tablecloth that Sylvia,some moments earlier, has excavated from the same dungeons. Candlelights and a standard lamp, little shiny christmas stars on the floor and easy chairs and a couch all around me and my table set-up . The walls are covered by pluchelike fabrics. All sit down. The first sounds fill the room. Some listeners doze off.

When we step outside it's snowing. And it's a quarter past two. I say goodbye to 'What-was-your-name-again?' , a tall guy. He looks at his bicycle that is chained to a lamppost. It is covered by fresh heaps of snow. Nice snow, gently swirling in the yellow lights of the night. We start walking towards a road where, as one of the guests has told me, we will find a little place where they serve excellent falafels.
Luckily it is only a few minutes away. We are hungry. We are at one of the dark edges of town; there is no other side of the street. There is only falafelbars. I try to understand from the outside which one might be the best. Big Red Plastic Words: DöNER and KEBAB. We enter the smallest one: The World of Falafel.

The man behind the counter looks like any immigrant who has been offered a job to help him through the first months in a foreign country. The mystery of what might be his real job is hidden by a somewhat melancholy smile. "Three and Five" he says, as he sees our indecision. We order 'three and five' , that come in rolls as big as my arm. Another client enters. He wants sheep cheese as an extra. "No sheep cheese" the man says "take three". When we are alone again, he tells us that he sells the best falafel in town. "Is it your shop?" "No" He knows, because he is from Lebanon. But the real falafel is without all this. He points at the vegetables. "Only salad, humus and soya sauce." I nod, and take another bite. I chew on bread and cold potato, and nod again.

freitagsmusik :

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hamburger Chronicles ( one ) : The days in between leaving and coming home

From the waterside of the river Elbe, overlooking the docks, the hoisting cranes, the big cargo ships against a wide open sky, everything seems to be in perfect proportion with the buildings and houses at the back of my shoulder. Throughout the centuries this was the place where people embarked on a sailing ship, a steamer or a passengers ship. It still is.
Ferry boats leave for destinations further down or up the river. Tourists boats take their clients on a trip around the harbour. Stepping on a boat is like stepping out of life, defeating mortality at the same time.

Those who sailed away long ago, returned after months. They came back with merchandise and memories to find their homes a little bit changed. Some of them earned enough money to leave their marks, be it in a name for a company, as a character in a book or by having a house built. Those houses became storage places; their owners had acquired new identities, that were flavoured by the taste of spices, and smelled of cigars and coffee. Exotism was met by pride and independence. Having money and property led to a sense of owning the city.

Hamburg is kind of cute, like people who suddenly realise that they have taken themselves and their lives way too serious: this is exactly the heart of hamburger humorism: to make you leave megalomania Therefore all those splendors of architecture on the quay of the river stand deprived of their self-esteem.

The streets and the bars and restaurants are important, 24 hours a day. Being temporarily one of the thousands in the hanseatic town is not bad at all.