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music for eleven wooden window-sills in the atrium of the Professorenhaus in Lingen
Commision of the Kunstverein Lingen

ca. 18 Min.
composed 1996, first performance 1997
→ Download pdf 6330 kB
→ Video with score, recording 1997 Lingen, Anthos Percussion Ensemble.


The drummers play in eleven different tempos with uncoordinated metronomes.The texture of the eleven tempos forms a method of rule-based rough modelling using fuzzy information, as developed in more recent computer science with the so-called "fuzzy theory", the theory of fuzzy systems of equations and multivalued logic. This method aims at understanding musical themes not as fixed figures but as ambiguous transformations, thus making the specific spatiality and the instruments, which are themselves part of the space, the actual content of the composition.
The specific situation of the atrium consists in an interplay of "inside" and "outside". The drummers look and play through the windows to the outside, an outside which, as an auditorium, also forms an interior space. The spatial interdependence of inside and outside is crystallized in the composition at the place where the inside is separated from the outside; in the concrete space: the windows, i.e. the instruments; or anatomically: the skin. The composition grasps the transition from inside to outside and their mutual relationship as a gestural movement, from whose basic directions - from outside to inside and from inside to outside - two different motivic-musical themes emerge.
The first theme is the transformation of a chord-like sound aggregate, which here stands for the "closed", collective expression of the ensemble, into a diastatic sequence of increasing tonal differentiation, whose melodic inner balance comes to the fore. The blurred tempo texture ensures that the direction of this transformation changes and it is actually impossible to define which of the two poles is the starting point, which is the destination. The second theme is the transformation of an internally moving sound surface into an external, spatial movement. And just as the themes themselves consist of transformations, in the course of the piece one theme changes into the other, i.e. the gestural direction is freed from any unambiguity, inside and outside confer, utterance and perception correlate, so that they are ultimately no longer separable from one another.
The search for such a constellation arises from the fundamental experience of acoustic orientation in space. Distant sound locations measure a space, the questions of the instruments and the answers of the space merge into a complex situation in which answers depend on questions and questions on answers. With the measurement, the listener is given a distance that only allows spatial orientation by giving him or her a place in space of their own. It may be that we are always moving in such complex situations - not only acoustically. My music wants to ask acoustic questions about the atrium, to measure it anew in order to perceive it again in an audible way. It is up to the individual listener to transfer the acoustic experience to other areas of life.


First Performance:
1997, December 7th: Professorenhaus Lingen;
→ Anthos Percussion Ensemble
of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hannover:
→ Jan-Hendrik Behnken,
→ Matthias Breitlow,
→ Thorsten Harnitz,
→ Ulrich Katzenberger,
→ Daniel Keding,
→ Norbert Krämer,
→ Thomas Laukel,
→ Almut Lustig,
→ Christoph Nünchert,
→ Anke Rienau and
→ Cymin Samawatie - perc.;
→ Andreas Boettger - rehearsal


Documentation text in the script:
12 installations + 1 composition = 13, published by Kunstverein Lingen, Buxus Verlag, Lingen 1998

by → Heiner Schepers

To make the atrium with its special acoustics an instrumental experience at the end of the installation series was the basic idea for the awarding of a commission for the eleven window sills on the first floor of the professor's house. Friedemann Schmidt-Mechau wrote this piece for 11 percussionists and gave it the title "Haut" (1996). The title alludes to the mediating function of the windows between inside and outside. Andreas Boettger and Anthos, the percussion ensemble of the University of Music and Theatre, Hanover, were responsible for its realisation. (...)
Each of the 11 musicians had to concentrate on their own metronome for their part at their own tempo, and only when working together did they need eye contact or signs, because there was no room for a conductor in the airspace of the first floor. The spectators heard the beating of various mallets and hands on window sills, panels and glass; they heard the sounds circling the room, a buzzing of the vibrating tone-woods provided by the composer, staccato-like knocking and a crackling firework of rapid tempos, but also sounds of extreme lightness and slow rhythms that forced the spectators to extreme concentration. They, standing inside the atrium as if in the belly of an instrument that the musicians played from the outside, could move around the room and see how it was made to sound. They experienced a concert that, quite atypically in a time of boundless reproducibility of all events, took place for 18 minutes in a singular way and thus not to be repeated. The room as such and as a place of experience was the starting point for a subsequent concert of change (...)

Lingener Tageblatt, 13 December 1997, for the concert on 7 December 1997

On Wood, Tin, Cardboard and Tam-Tam ...
Wandering Concert with World Premiere - Anthos-Ensemble from Hannover as Guest
→ Peter Löning

What makes an object a musical instrument? Music, of course. The Oldenburg composer Friedemann Schmidt-Mechau provided excellent proof of this assertion with his composition "Haut" (Skin) for eleven wooden window sills; written and premiered on commission by the Lingener Kunstverein.
The instrumentation is one of the windows that line the atrium of the "Professorenhaus" on Universitätsplatz. The title alludes to the mediating, dividing function of these windows from inside and outside. The Anthos percussion ensemble, eleven students of the Hanover University of Music, played out of the windows, but into the atrium, where a tense audience could experience this unique event. The sound characteristics of the individual benches and the unexpected spatial experience were quite astonishing. Circling movements sometimes had a dizzying effect, heavy crackling gave way to almost inaudible passages. At times one found oneself in the middle of a burning firework. The tense concentration of the musicians playing at different tempos was directly transmitted to the listeners.
With this exciting and to the end thrilling work an extensive but entertaining "Wandering Concert" (...)