One of Germany’s leading new music groups is turning its gaze southwards. On “Alpenglühen”, the ensemble Integrales is following in the footsteps of a young generation of Austrian composers, always in search of a recognisable local school. The result of their quest is pleasantly contradictory: No, a seamless and unified Austrian identity in new music doesn’t exist. But yes, there are several singular Austrian tonal identities which share a pool of adjacent techniques and the will to go beyond the usual predefined restrictions of the contemporary composition community. Five pieces by protagonists like Wolfram Schurig, Wolfgang Suppan, Karlheinz Essl, Christof Dienz and Bernhard Gander are closely examined and performed with exploratory zest, bringing out both aspects of the projects: The similarities hidden underneath the surface and the distinct differences which are just as essential in carving out a national musical identity. (...)
Karlheinz Essl’s more or less, realised over a majestic stretch of eight years, builds a nervous tension arch from buzzing strings and itching synthetic structures, counterpointing percussive outbursts with moments of dark reflection in a piece which heavily relies on improvisation.
CD review by Tobias Fischer, tokafi (16 Nov 2008)
more or less is a computer-driven realtime composition where the musicians do not reproduce parts of a fixed score. Instead of executing a pre-fabricated text from note sheets, they are viewing computer monitors or mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) which display randomly-generated playing instructions.
During the performance of the piece the musicians can make queries to their computers or devices asking for playing instructions whenever they feel a necessity for it. Furthermore, a random-generated Haiku is created whenever a musician receives a new instruction from the computer. This is a three-liner providing a puzzle which has to be "solved" by the musicians and which will influence the interpretation of the required structure to a great extend.
Karlheinz Essl giving a masterclass about more or less
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo (Ontario) - 15 Feb 2012
more or less performed at Project Arts Center, Dublin (22 Oct 2011)
Julie Maisel: flute, Adrian Mantu: cello, Roger Moffat: percussion, Karlheinz Essl: electronics
more or less performed by Ensemble Intègrale
Malmö, Palladium (S) on 29 Mar 2007, festival Connect 2007
Burkhard Friedrich: saxophone, Barbara Lueneburg: violin
Ashley Hribar: piano, Oleg Dziewanowski: percussion
more or less performed by Ensemble Intègrales and Karlheinz Essl
Vienna, 12 Oct 2007
The piece is based on 5 different types of musical structures (gestures) that have to be improvised by the musicians according to the description given below. As long as a certain structure is valid, the musician improvise a phrase of an indetermined length, followed by a silence which duration is free. The steady alternation between phrases (a time span filled with sound) and silence (a time span with no sound) is continued for the whole duration of one structure. Before the next structure begins, the musician will receive a pause of undetermined length.
The main idea of the piece consists in the mutual reactions of the musicians to each other by fulfilling the given structural requirements on the one hand; on the other hand, they have to adjust their individual playing by observing the "global context" that is created between the musicians during the run of the performance.
By clicking on the title of the following examples, you can listen to variants of those structures which have been worked out and played by Karlheinz Essl on his m@ze°2 improvisation environment:
|more or less 1.3 for Mac OS X (10.3.9 or later) - Universal Binary
released 16 Jan 2007: zip archive (3.8 MB)
|more or less 1.2 for Mac OS X (10.2 or later) - PPC only
released 18 Feb 2004: Apple disk image (0.7 MB)
|more or less 1.1.3 for any operating system (Windows, Unix, Linux)
You can create your individual playing instructions on your mobile phone or tablet just by opening this link:
Updated: 30 Oct 2017