With SCAN, its young concert project on the fringes between interpretation and improvisation, Klangforum Wien strikes out in a new direction with the aim of shedding a fresh and different light on composed music by means of re-instrumentation, improvisation, electronics, fragmentation and re-constitution of the parts. SCAN approaches the selected works from a completely different perspective, striving for a radical penetration of the musical material by undertaking an incalculable journey into the innermost depths of the sounds. The project liberates the seemingly predetermined musical processes from their fixation on the written text and puts them into new contexts. By treating the material in this way, it achieves a degree of complexity which can never be reached as long as music is treated according to traditional rules and regulations – as defined for the interpreter by the score. Expanding the areas for music making, stretching the limits drawn by the musical text and the conductor, freedom instead of security, liberating the musical routine – this is what SCAN is all about. Starting with a composition which is fixed on the page of a score, the ensemble creates a new work by freely treating the defined specifications, thus arriving at a “piece about a piece”, which comes into being live, in front of the audience’s ears at the concert venue.
Whereas the freedom available to the musicians in „regular“ music-making is severely limited by the score and the conductor, SCAN returns some autonomy to the players in a twofold manner. First of all, the composition itself is no longer regarded as strict prescription and the limit of the musicians’ artistic possibilities, but is used as a vast “playground”, where musical creativity can unfold in the greatest freedom. This unfolding is not without its rules. The score is not ignored, but read with greater interpretative leeway than is usually permitted by tradition and copyright. The players may exchange their parts – woodwinds might perform what is written for the right hand of the accordionist; the bass-line is taken over by the synthesizer; with their instruments, the percussionists appropriate the parts assigned to the clarinets; and a turntablist mixes his reading of the score into the new and rather different sound-scape that emerges by comparison with the work’s original shape which, however, nonetheless remains present and perceptible in these Klangforum-“Scans”.
Following this marked expansion of the limits set by the written score of the composition, the musicians regain a further amount of self-determination by periodically doing away with the function of the conductor. Conducted music is always the representation of a prescribed text guided and conducted from the outside. At a certain point of the performance, however, SCAN allows for the temporary abdication of the music director. From this moment, the ensemble organises itself, treading the fine line between determinism and freedom, which is something that cannot take place in ordinary circumstances during a concert, where a work is reproduced by exactly following the written notation.
SCAN demands a lot from all participants – first of all from the composers, who have to approve a re-interpretation of their work by the ensemble which is not oriented towards serving the piece, but which utilises the composition to jointly serve the purpose of music. Composer Bernhard Lang has called this procedure a mild form of self-renunciation, conceding however that he found the result to be both exciting and rewarding – as did Beat Furrer and Klaus Lang, who also made their compositions available for SCAN. With music by Georg Friedrich Haas, Klangforum will continue this project as part of its professorship for the PPCM lectures (Performance Practice in Contemporary Music) at the University of the Arts in Graz in the summer of 2018.