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Karin Sander, In höchsten Tönen / Hitting the highest notes, 2006

Karin Sander, In höchsten Tönen / Hitting the highest notes, 2006

In höchsten Tönen (Hitting the highest notes)


The performance consists of a piece of music played by as many musicians as possible - an orchestra or an ensemble in which each member strives to elicit from whatever instrument he or she is playing the highest notes of which it is capable.

Using the lower notes as a kind of springboard, the musicians aim to play ever higher notes, perhaps even exceeding the normal technical range of their instruments. The music is created both by this desire to achieve an impossibly high range of notes and by the different rhythms of the musical sequences that arise. While for example the stringed instruments are able to sustain their high notes for relatively long periods, wailing upwards, as it were, to ever higher tonal realms, the wind instruments are continually having to start their sequences anew, as dictated by the necessity to draw breath at frequent intervals, thus over-layering with their whistlings and cheepings the ground swell of tonality. The percussion instruments scratch and tap in shrill metallic tones while the spinet and piano monotonously weave their highest notes into the general volume of sound. The percussion's sharp sounds continually infuse the latter with new vitality, dying away only to be renewed just before they entirely fade out. The singers, already in voice, strive to hit ever higher notes, together producing overtones or double notes.

The musicians thus unite in reaching for those highest notes and increasing the general intensity of the sound generated, sustaining it for as long as possible. Then the whole musical edifice collapses, and the performance comes to an end...

Karin Sander (Translation: Stephen Richards)