Ernst Toch was an influential and prolific Austrian composer of the 20th century. Fleeing Hitler he eventually settled in Los Angeles. The Geographical Fugue is. ABSTRACT: Ernst Toch’s “Geographical Fugue” was conceived of as a work for technological media, designed as a recording to be ‘performed’. Trin – i – dad and the big. Mis – sis – sip – pi and the. GEOGRAPHICAL FUGUE. Ernst Toch ORFEON UNIVERSITARIO. DE MALAGA.
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Perhaps uniquely in music history, this electronic work has had an almost exclusively acoustic performance history of more than eight decades. Premiered in at a Berlin-based festival dedicated to the incorporation of technology in music, a few years later the piece was transformed into a humorous showpiece spoken live by a-cappella choirs.
In the early s, Ernst Toch — was one of the most often performed living composers in Germany. The world premiere of the fugue in Berlin on June 18, emanated from a gramophone set on a faster playback speed. I then continue by exploring the impact of postwar technology on constructions of the body in Weimar Republic visual and audio art, particularly in the new relationship between organic parts and mechanical prostheses.
FUGUE: ERNST TOCH — THE GEOGRAPHICAL FUGUE Paul Sheftel
He won a number of composition awards in his youth, including the Frankfurt am Main Mozart prize in and the Leipzig-based Mendelssohn Stipendium in and Toch served as an infantry lieutenant in the Austrian army in World War I, and later returned to an academic appointment in Mannheim.
Inhe fled Germany, ending up in Hollywood, where he composed music for films in addition to a substantial body of yoch, solo, and orchestral music.
Toch also seems to be poking fun at the form of the school-fugue, a composition exercise that he surely encountered during his own musical training. For example, at the Baden-Baden festival premiere of Der Lindbergflugh, a year earlier, the audience sat in the concert hall, while the music was performed offstage and broadcast through loudspeakers into the hall.
This close relationship between didactic music, radio and technology reappeared in the Berlin festival as well, with Hindemith and Toch represented both by pedagogical and technological contributions: The addition of the post-production audio transformation renders it pedagogically edifying as well, a lesson on the possibilities of original music for gramophone. In his fugue, Toch gives pride of place to the Americas: The tail end of the subject begins with Canada, then returns to Europe via the assonance Malaga, paired with Rimini and Brindisi.
The first counter subject features the Greek capital Athens, while the second counter subject includes the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Yokohama. This was perceived by Germans as a national insult, and termed Die schwarze Schmach the Black Shame by both politicians and the press. By excluding Africa from the geographic libretto, therefore, Toch avoids evoking the georaphical point of the Franco-African occupation. However, the prominence he accords to the Mississippi river may possibly be a nod toward Jazz, especially given that it was associated with Neue Sachlichkeit aesthetics and with recording technology.
Existing as an almost absurd parody of geographiczl geography lesson, these chanted words become a collection of different syllables with almost universal phonetic characteristics rather than culturally specific meaning. The association between abnormal bodies and overly high voices was famously emphasized in the movie The Wizard of Ozin which the actors delivered their lines at a slower tempo, while the final product reflected post-audio manipulation of playback speed and pitch.
These impossibly high voices can also be read as a kind of audio analogue to amputated limbs, a signifier of some sort of both physical and metaphysical mutilation. Since much prosthetic technology was designed to replace lost physical capabilities, it geographcial on separating senses and abilities into functional categories, a process that would culminate in what Caroline A.
Indeed, the origins of recording technology are intimately related to the history of physiology and disability itself. Concurrently, Fleeming Jenkin and James A.
The phonograph soon became an essential tool in the investigation of phonetics. InAugustus Stroh created the automatic phonograph, which imitated the five cardinal vowels using rotating discs.
Having conducted extensive experiments with speeding up speech and vowel recordings, physiologist Ludimar Hermann coined the term formant to describe the resonance frequencies inferred from the amplitude envelope of the partials in An interest in vowels and consonants as independent elements capable of artistic expression strongly fughe poetry in the last few decades of the nineteenth century, a trend that accelerated in avant-garde circles at the turn of the century.
The Berlin Dadaists also explored a variety of vocal representations and deliveries. The Sonata efnst of four movements, of an overture and geographival finale, and seventhly, of a cadenza in the fourth movement. The first movement is a rondo with four main themes, designated as such in the text of the Sonata. Listen to Schwitters recite the Ursonate [external link on ubuweb].
Other than the lack of pitched notes, the piece is structured like a conventional fugue in every respect. Scored for geograpbical mixed choir of soprano, alto, tenor and bass, the speakers enter in a T-A-S-B order, which by virtue of the vocal range of the performers fugu recreates the illusion of the interval of a fourth or fifth by which fugal entries are traditionally separated. Contrapuntal passages are carefully balanced, with unison pairings or hocketing to retain the clarity of the subject at all times.
Toch even writes in a pedal point on a rolled r the Ra in Ratiborwhich enables the sopranos to sustain the syllable for two full measures. I chose to [explore] the spoken word, and let a four-part mixed chamber choir speak specifically determined rhythms, vowels, consonants, syllables and words, which by involving the mechanical possibilities of the recording increasing the tempo, and the resulting pitch height created a type of instrumental music, which leads the listener to forget that it originated from speaking.
Indeed, the changes that geographixal the vowels upon increasing the playback speed stood geogarphical the erns of his concerns, as he describes:. Only in one respect did the machine unfortunately deceive me: The fugue consists of a single text, which forms the basis for all counterpoints and developments:.
In the following analyses I examine the first full geograhical of the text, corresponding to measures in the tenor line. If we examine the geographical locations alone mentioned in the fugue without taking subsequent repetitions into account fugur, as shown in Example 1, we can see that Toch chooses names that share a number of phonetic properties: The open syllables allow flexibility in sustaining rhythms of different lengths, creating a differentiated sound by nature of ernsf distinct formants.
Capitalization indicates that the syllable is name-initial.
Moreover, we also find further economy of means: In terms of physical pronunciation, these vowel sounds have different points of origin. Example 3 maps them onto the Vokaldreieckor vowel triangle, a schematic diagram of the position of the tongue during pronunciation. This linguistic tool is an abstraction of factors, including accent, and mouth geography, and tongue position, which may influence the actual location of the vowels during speech.
If we examine the syllable ordering of these different geographic names, as shown in Example 4, fgue can discern what appear to be a few motif-based considerations: The paths of the arrows in Example 5 in essence tochh out the first two formants, or spectral peaks, of vowel sound production.
However, when the vowels move along both the front-back and the open-closed axes, which correspond to the first and second formants respectively, they tend to move from closed to open 9 to 1.
ByEdward Scripture had reported that increasing the speed of a phonograph record causes the spectral peaks of vowel sounds to rise, ultimately forcing them toward i. In almost all the geographic names, the vowel sound goes from open to closed, in which case intelligibility is well-preserved. If the geographic names move from closed to open vowels, this is accompanied by motion front to back or back to front, giving the listener two types of information, or axes of location, along which to classify the changes in vowel sounds.
One case is measure 23, with the sopranos and bass speaking Titicaca in a canon set apart by an eighth-note, as shown in Example 6. If we include all the words in the first full presentation of the fugue geeographical measures 1—8 of the tenor partwe can see that Toch restricted himself to only a subset of the seventeen German vowels by using eight in total, with only seven appearing more than once: Example 7 depicts the statistical distribution of georaphical sounds within the first full iteration of the text.
His choice of his raw materials reflects artistic considerations such as economy of means, intelligibility of material and ease of performance, amplified under the conditions of the sped-up gramophone playback.
Both fugues appear side by side in Example 8. The text is quite long and varied, and vowels feature prominently: What a putty, putty, putty.
Fuge aus der Geographie (Toch, Ernst)
The reception of his spoken music has fortunately taken a very different path, as versions of the score and recordings of performances are constantly shared on websites catering to schools, choir members, and music directors. His version involves recording himself for all four parts, filtering the spoken words through different electronic processes, and speeding the whole thing up to approximately double speed.
Featuring a piece amateur male choir in elaborate, full-body animal costumes, the group riotously stomps, trills, and chants fragments of the original fugue while swaying in carefully choreographed counterpoint: As a cultural document, the fugue offers a wealth of information about Weimar Germany, revealing affinities with political and artistic trends as well as the state of phonetic research.
It is remarkable that a work imprinted to an astonishing degree with the conditions of its artistic production should continue to appeal to a wide audience of our day.
Perhaps the readiness of this piece for experimental reinterpretation stems from its origins in the conceptual and technological avant-garde of its day. Choric speech, the group recitation of poems, was taught in schools throughout Europe and America during the early twentieth-century.
During the Nazi era, spoken choir pieces were often employed within Thingspiele, mass outdoor plays with propaganda messages. Africa was a locus of Weimar Republic anxieties, as through her wartime defeat, Germany lost all her colonies, the most substantial of which had been located south of the Sahara, including parts of present-day Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Cameroon, Togo, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Namibia.
In the s, the prominent German composer Pfitzner efnst against Jazz, claiming it was anti-German, pacifist and internationalist Cook Click here to listen to the original recording of Zwei Trickaufnahmen . This post-war attitude was exemplified by Henry Ford, who observed that the Model T factory called figue 7, different jobs: The remaining 3, jobs were disclosed as requiring no physical exertion and could be performed by the slightest, weakest sort of men […].
The lightest jobs were again classified to discover how many of them required the use of full faculties, and we found that could be filled by geographial men, 2, by one-legged men, 2 by armless men, by one-armed men, and 10 by blind men.
Jonathan Sterne has further emphasized the integral relationship between early sound reproduction technologies and the physical form, mechanical function, and scientific understanding of the human ear.
Jenkin and Ewing Wagner later adopted the technique of Stabreim, or alliteration, as a solution to recovering the relationship between meaning consonantsand emotions vowels. The seventeen standard Geogfaphical monophtongs are: There are an additional three diphthongs: The pairing of two Japanese fubue is further suggestive, as Toch here appears to group geographic toc primarily by actual physical and cultural proximity. As quoted in Castelnuovo-Tedesco An example of this can be found in the series of six-syllable rhythms passed between the voices at measures — View a slapstick version.
Make sure to watch it till the end! Flight eernst of Time: Edited by John Elderfield, translated by Ann Raimes. University of California Press. Visions of the New Human in Weimar Berlin. University of Minnesota Press.
ZGMTH – From Trinidad to Cyberspace: Reconsidering Ernst Toch’s “Geographical Fugue”
An Epitaph for Bertolt Brecht. Ford, Henry, and Samuel Crowther. My Life geofraphical Work. Von Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand. European Journal of Physiology Jenkin, Fleeming, and James A.
University of Chicago Press. A History of Sound in the Arts. Gramophone, Film, Typewritertrans.