“I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take”

James Gruntz recently released his new album “Waves”. An important role in the creation of this album is the composer in residence year that the 30-year-old songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer has been granted by FONDATION SUISA. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

James Gruntz: “I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take”

“It’s a reality that I earn a living with the concert fees and remuneration from the collective management organisations”, explains James Gruntz. (Photo: Gregor Brändli)

With the album “Belvedere”, James Gruntz managed his breakthrough in 2014, corroborated by great chart positions and several awards (“Basel Pop Awards” 2014 and two “Swiss Music Awards” 2015). For the creation of the recently published follow-up album “Waves”, the pressure probably increased for the musician; he grew up in Nidau near Biel, came to Basel at the age of 16, passed his Pop Master degree at the Zurich University of the Arts and is now living in a factory loft in Dulliken near Olten, working on his songs.

James Gruntz puts this pressure into perspective during an interview. “Music has always been a very important part of my life – and it’s going to stay that way, completely irrespective of whether I can earn my living with it or not.” The songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer also highlights that his début album was already released ten years ago and that the recently launched album “Waves” is already his sixth. “There was a continuous development: At some point, my songs were played on the radio, and there were more and more engagements and concerts. And so far, reflecting this continued development, each album sold more copies than the previous one.”

The joy of scat

Next, James Gruntz makes the jarring comment that he was glad not having to be part of the golden era of the music industry. “As a consequence, I do not have huge commercial expectations in the album format. It’s a reality that I earn a living with the concert fees and remuneration from the collective management organisations.” His financial position is balanced because he is author, performer and producer, all at the same time, for his songs. In terms of his album sales, his only expectation is that he is able to cover the related costs.

Luckily, James Gruntz still realised the new album “Waves”, since it captivates the listener with an enchanting mix of soul, pop and electronic music. He didn’t have a vision of what his new album would be like when beginning its creation. “The only thing that was clear to me was that, just like in the case of the last album for the piece ‘Heart Keeps Dancing’ I wanted to do something again with scat vocals.” That was when he tried out this special tongue clicking technique for the first time and it found a lot of positive reception. And since he really enjoyed this “extremely”, he wanted to pluck the courage to do more on the new album in terms of this type of music.

Not in it for his own sake

The idiosyncratic use of his voice has an even bigger impact on the music than on his last album, this is also due to the falsetto he uses which is reminiscent of Prince at times, and due to the harmonizer singing for several voices which creates a peculiar alienation. “The playful manipulation of singing is something I simply enjoy very much. It’s important, however, that you don’t just do it, because you can or because it’s technically cool. It has to be able to function by itself and make sense.” At the end of the day, the voice imparts a high recognition value to the album.

The new pieces were created in rather different ways. James Gruntz always carries a Dictaphone on him and records ideas with it. Every now and then he listens to these recordings and searches for ideas “where I feel like developing something from it.” This is when he works on this idea at home alone in his home studio until the song form has been established. “I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take. Only when I am aware of that, when I have found my version, that’s when I look for collaboration with other musicians – and I am open to their ideas and input.”

Different origins

He had the idea for the first single, “You”, as early as three years ago, in other words, shortly after the release of the last album. “This piece has been subject to some enormous development before it was finished, it actually became rather different.” Other songs such as “Waves”, were more or less plucked out of thin air and nearly completed within just one day. “This piece is still the demo to some extent. That was possible because it is closer to a mood than to a song and therefore it was more limited in terms of enhancing it.”

The composer in residence year valued at CHF 80,000 that James Gruntz received from FONDATION SUISA in 2016 played an important role in the making of the album. “Waves” was actually meant to be released this spring. “I realised, however, that I needed more time in order to design the album in exactly the way I envisaged it to be. That’s how I was able to postpone the release of the album by half a year without starting to panic that my bank account would drop below zero.”

Is the book the new CD?

The composer in residence year also made a rather special project possible: James Gruntz will publish a 64-page book in time for the tour. “It’s an experiment that I would have had to think about twice without the money from the FONDATION SUISA.” For each song of the new album, a male or female author was asked respectively to write a text, but without any instruction. “What came out of this were poems and stories which are very interesting for me, too, as they show what my music can trigger.”

Behind this book project is the contemplation of James Gruntz that “the CD is, despite its better sound quality, on a downward spiral.” He is still convinced, however, that the majority of the people wish to continue holding something in their hands when they listen to music, just like him. “And a book is a much nicer object than a CD! It also contains the song lyrics; that is good for those listeners that are streaming my music.” The project was also made possible due to the fact that his album is released by the publisher Zytglogge which also includes books in its assortment. That is why James Gruntz can now look forward to his music coming into the bookshops he loves so much since the book also contains a download code for his album (the book is also going to be sold at his concerts).

Concerts 2017/18: 17 Nov. Schüür Lucerne, 18 Nov. Eintracht Kirchberg SG, 24 Nov. Gaswerk Seewen, 25 Nov. Kaserne Basel, 1 Dec. Kofmehl Solothurn, 2 Dec. L’Usine Genève, 8 Dec. Salzhaus Brugg, 9 Dec. Hotel Wetterhorn Hasliberg, 17 Dec. Zauberwald Lenzerheide, 12 Jan. 2018 Salzhaus Winterthur, 19 Jan. Chollerhalle Zug, 20 Jan. Mokka Thun, 16 Feb. Kulturkarussell Rössli Stäfa, 23 Feb. Kulturfabrik KUFA Lyss, 24 Feb. Casino Herisau, 27 Apr. Kühltür Grosshöchstetten.

www.jamesgruntz.com, official website of James Gruntz

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James Gruntz recently released his new album “Waves”. An important role in the creation of this album is the composer in residence year that the 30-year-old songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer has been granted by FONDATION SUISA. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

James Gruntz: “I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take”

“It’s a reality that I earn a living with the concert fees and remuneration from the collective management organisations”, explains James Gruntz. (Photo: Gregor Brändli)

With the album “Belvedere”, James Gruntz managed his breakthrough in 2014, corroborated by great chart positions and several awards (“Basel Pop Awards” 2014 and two “Swiss Music Awards” 2015). For the creation of the recently published follow-up album “Waves”, the pressure probably increased for the musician; he grew up in Nidau near Biel, came to Basel at the age of 16, passed his Pop Master...read more

Julien-François Zbinden: 100 years’ old!

Julien-François Zbinden is a pianist, composer, writer and … 100 years’ old. On 11 November 2017, the honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his centennial birthday. For the occasion, the guest author Jean-Pierre Mathez has been invited to review the jubilarian’s life and work.

Julien-François Zbinden: 100 years' old!

Julien-François Zbinden, former President and now honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his 100th birthday on 11 November 2017 (Photo: Yvan Ischer)

Ford Model T year 1913. (Photo: Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock.com)

Julien-François Zbinden was born on 11 November 1917, nine years after the Ford T. He was a privileged and attentive witness to the extra-ordinary technological, artistic, moral and spiritual developments which revolutionised Man’s life on this planet during his lifetime.

His musical adventure started with his beloved piano. In his own words:

“Still today, it shares my passion for jazz music, and our complicity is enshrined in the album ‘The Last Call…?’ which I recorded when I was 93. ‘It’ is my instrument, my more than one century-old piano: a Blüthner Model 190, No. 89293, built in Leipzig in 1910, to which I dedicate this Opus 111 (titled ‘Blüthner-Variationen’, published by Editions Bim PNO67, Author’s note) which completes my series of works for the piano.”

Self-portrait, engraving on linoleum, 1937.

Julien-François Zbinden first earned his living as a bar pianist, passionately initiating himself to jazz and then to composition.

When he was 30, he started his career with the music department of Radio Suisse Romande, which he marked with his administrative imprint and open-mindedness until stepping down in 1982. Glorious years with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Fanfare Perce-Oreille, classical and popular choirs across French-speaking Switzerland, stars of “la chanson française”, jazz orchestras; he participated in and hosted on-air debates with talent and respect for the opinions of others. He brought numerous celebrities from the musical world to Lausanne: the RSR archives contain a wealth of live interviews and recordings with famous artists. He opened the RSR’s doors to all genres of quality music, irrigating a pluralist culture in the Romandie and other French-speaking countries.

When he was in his mid-fifties, he passed his aviator’s licence, reveling in the emotion of his aerial arabesques and the thrill of the miniaturised view of life on earth.

Julien-François Zbinden in front of a Piper L4, initiation to landing (Glacier des Diablerets, 11.12.1975). (Photo: ZvG)

Julien-François Zbinden at the piano, January 2017. (Photo: ZvG)

On reaching retirement age, Julien-François Zbinden left the RSR and devoted himself heart and soul to composing (he would write over one hundred works), to his friends, to travelling and writing (an impressive bibliography and two more recent books), not to forget recording two recent jazz albums on the piano (TCB Montreux).

He was President of the Association des Musiciens suisses (1973 to 1979) and of SUISA from 1987 to 1991.

Julien-François Zbinden is also a valuable living memory, a well of knowledge, a man of letters who has observed and analysed his times with great perspicacity. His musical works have been played worldwide and are published by major European publishing houses (since 1988, all his new works have been published in Switzerland by Editions Bim).

We hope that the Swiss musical world, in the Romandie in particular, will not forget this exceptional artist and will continue to pass on his works to future generations of musicians and music-lovers in our country.

Read (much) more about Julien-François Zbinden: www.jfzbinden.ch

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Julien-François Zbinden is a pianist, composer, writer and … 100 years’ old. On 11 November 2017, the honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his centennial birthday. For the occasion, the guest author Jean-Pierre Mathez has been invited to review the jubilarian’s life and work.

Julien-François Zbinden: 100 years' old!

Julien-François Zbinden, former President and now honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his 100th birthday on 11 November 2017 (Photo: Yvan Ischer)

Ford Model T year 1913. (Photo: Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock.com)

Julien-François Zbinden was born on 11 November 1917, nine years after the Ford T. He was a privileged and attentive witness to the extra-ordinary technological, artistic, moral and spiritual developments which revolutionised Man’s life on this planet during his lifetime.

His musical adventure started with his beloved piano. In his own words:

“Still today, it shares my passion for jazz music,...read more

SUISA Board looks ahead into the future

Initiated by Ticino-based Board member Zeno Gabaglio, the Board of Directors of SUISA held its autumn meeting in Lugano this year. The agenda items for the meetings on 3 and 4 October 2017 were quite exhaustive. A selection of the topics under discussion are included in this report from the Board by Dora Zeller.

SUISA Board looks ahead into the future

The current Board of SUISA in a photoshoot dating back to spring 2017. (Photo: Marc Latzel)

An important agenda point was the ratification of the business strategy. Management is looking ahead into the future with this strategy, defining which objectives it wishes to reach in a specified period of time. SUISA’s strategy usually covers a four-year period, currently 2016-2020. Due to the business events and plans it is subject to review several times a year. It is subdivided in four main areas:

  • Cost & growth (cultivate customer relations, maximise members’ incomes, support and challenge staff members)
  • Trust (members are ‘shareholders’)
  • Develop copyright
  • Align the business with new demands (online and offline)

For each of the main areas, facts are recorded; subsequently, the relevant measures are listed in terms of planning how to reach the strategic goals. For example, in the case of “members are our shareholders”, this means: Rethink and diversify services, standardise documentation and works registration, cultivate transparency and communication, guarantee domestic and international administration of members’ rights and assure quality via automation and process optimisation.

Increased competition in the licensing business requires measures

When it comes to the main area “align the business with new demands”, offline business was added as a new area. In the course of the last few years, there is now competition for music licences and there are new providers in the marketplace, too. These providers are no cooperative societies and do not belong to the authors as is the case for the majority of collective management organisations in Europe. They are profit-making private companies.

There are new developments in the “direct licensing” area for major concerts as well as for the collection of background music (piped music). The task at hand is to tackle the new licensing offers, to create SUISA’s own offers (tariffs) in a competitive manner, to search collaboration and to promote the legal framework conditions.

On the basis of the agreed strategy, management is now going to work on a roadmap. The latter will serve the purpose of splitting the measures into small, specific steps to which deadlines and responsibilities will be allocated.

Distribution: 8,126 members received CHF 11,093,520

SUISA distributes the majority of its tariffs on a quarterly basis. In September, collections for performances (Tariffs D, K; 1st quarter 2017), broadcasts SRG (Tariff A; 1st quarter 2017), “advertising windows” (2015) and reproduction (Tariffs PA, PI, PN, VI, 1st quarter 2017) were included in the distribution.

The remuneration was paid out to SUISA members (CHF 5,729,852.00) and to sister societies (CHF 5,363,669.00). Approx. CHF 1,229,425 were held back due to a lack of details, missing documentation etc. The reserved monies will be paid out in adjustment runs as soon as the necessary data for a correct distribution has been completed.

Collaboration between ProLitteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform

In 1993, the five Swiss collective management organisations signed the first written collaboration agreement. This was triggered by the expansion of copyright towards neighbouring rights back in the day. Before that, the societies had entertained informal exchanges and coordinated joint tariff negotiations.

In the coordination committee (KOAU) of the societies, the agreement was recently reviewed. The intention was to reflect the current situation and to simplify the collaboration in complex areas. New provisions include the process of passing resolutions as well as collection principles relating to collections on behalf of other societies. The SUISA Board has approved the revised collaboration agreement.

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Initiated by Ticino-based Board member Zeno Gabaglio, the Board of Directors of SUISA held its autumn meeting in Lugano this year. The agenda items for the meetings on 3 and 4 October 2017 were quite exhaustive. A selection of the topics under discussion are included in this report from the Board by Dora Zeller.

SUISA Board looks ahead into the future

The current Board of SUISA in a photoshoot dating back to spring 2017. (Photo: Marc Latzel)

An important agenda point was the ratification of the business strategy. Management is looking ahead into the future with this strategy, defining which objectives it wishes to reach in a specified period of time. SUISA’s strategy usually covers a four-year period, currently 2016-2020. Due to the business events and plans it is subject to review several times a year. It is subdivided in...read more

Always on top of things thanks to “my account”

More than 14,000 members are already using our member portal “my account”. More than half of all new registrations of original works during 2016 were done online. Why do more and more members regularly use “my account”? Text by Claudia Kempf

Always on top of things thanks to “my account”

Via our online portal “my account”, members enjoy personalised access to SUISA matters – via a single keystroke (Foto: Manu Leuenberger)

Thanks to the password-protected members’ area “my account”, our members keep an overview of the most significant SUISA matters such as settlements and work registrations.

Settlements always to hand as navigable PDFs

All settlements of the past five years can be accessed online at any time. The settlements in PDF format are user friendly as our members can navigate their way around in settlements that span several pages simply by using their mouse. Upon clicking on a work title in the table of contents, the respective detailed list of the work usages will be displayed, whereas a click on the SUISA number leads to the sound and audiovisual recordings’ list.

The total distributed amount for a year is shown in a cumulated way. It is visible at a glance which amount was paid out by SUISA over a year. Members who have access to “my account” can, in future, renounce on the paper dispatch of settlements. If a new settlement becomes available, a notification will be sent to members in future.

Access to personal data at any time

In the user profile, personal data such as postal addresses and payment addresses can be accessed. This area is currently being expanded so that members can amend their details directly in their profile section. Registered pseudonyms and relating IPI numbers are also included in this area. For publisher members with sub-editions or several main publishers, all information can be accessed via a login.

My account works database

With a personal user account, SUISA members can specifically search online for provisional works via the portal “my account”. (Photo: Screenshot www.suisa.ch)

Optimised search functionalities for provisional works

Users have the option to search specifically for provisional works in our works database. Provisional works come into existence when they appear on reports on music use submitted to SUISA by users and the work has not been registered with SUISA at all or under a different title. The income generated for such provisional works is, however, held back from payment until the works have been registered and/or been linked to existing works. Read more about provisional works in the article “Why are there undocumented works in my works database?” (article in german) in SUISAinfo issue 3.12.

Efficient registration of works and sub-publishing agreements

Online work registration is simple. Since 2017, the IPI number of SUISA members can be searched within the registration process and be implemented into the notification. Publishers have benefited from the option to register sub-publishing agreements via the portal since spring this year. Thanks to the link to the SUISA systems, online registrations are processed more quickly and efficiently.

Mobile-friendly and future-proof

Of course, our SUISA platform is compatible with mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. The membership portal is therefore available and accessible at any time and from anywhere.

We continue to expand our service range offered and to add new functionalities and services. We shall keep you informed on any related news via SUISAblog.ch, suisa.ch or in our SUISAinfo magazine.

Access to “my account” is open to every SUISA member. Request a login or your personal online user account at:

www.suisa.ch/my-account

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More than 14,000 members are already using our member portal “my account”. More than half of all new registrations of original works during 2016 were done online. Why do more and more members regularly use “my account”? Text by Claudia Kempf

Always on top of things thanks to “my account”

Via our online portal “my account”, members enjoy personalised access to SUISA matters – via a single keystroke (Foto: Manu Leuenberger)

Thanks to the password-protected members’ area “my account”, our members keep an overview of the most significant SUISA matters such as settlements and work registrations.

Settlements always to hand as navigable PDFs

All settlements of the past five years can be accessed online at any time. The settlements in PDF format are user friendly as our members can navigate their way around in settlements that span several pages simply by using their mouse....read more

Changes in relation to the distribution of Tariff CT 1 and CT 2 collections

In the last few years, cable network providers switched their offerings from analogue to digital. In order to take these changes into consideration, the distribution of the collections arising from Tariffs CT 1 (cable networks), CT 2a (retransmitters) and CT 2b (IP based networks) was aligned. In item 5.5.1 of the distribution rules the calculation basis of the reference parameter “number of subscribers” was changed to “daily reach”. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in relation to the distribution of Tariff CT 1 and CT 2 collections

Even though there is a plethora of digital TV programmes available, only a few of them fill TV screens for a longer period. (Foto: Zeber / Shutterstock.com)

Cable network providers have carried out a migration of their offerings from analogue to digital in the last few years. The number of the radio and TV programmes on offer is now many times higher than before. Until recently, the number of subscribers acted as the calculation basis for the distribution of income from Tariffs CT 1, CT 2a and CT 2b. As a consequence, the distribution depended on the receptability, i.e. on how many subscribers of a cable network provider had the option to receive a specific channel.

With the increase of the broadcaster offerings, the significance of the subscriber numbers regarding the actual work usage has decreased remarkably. This is due to the fact that of the multitude of channels that consumers have at their fingertips today, they only use a few in reality. With the switch of the calculation basis to the reference parameter “daily reach”, what counts in terms of distribution now is what consumers actually watch.

The daily reach corresponds with the share of people who have watched or listened to a specific programme on an average day for at least 30 seconds. The relevant usage is thus registered which goes above and beyond a mere channel hopping.

Distribution more exact based on actual usage

Due to the daily reach as a calculation basis the actual usage is now taken into consideration more: The copyright royalties now flow to those channels that have really been watched or listened to. Channels which were not selected by the consumer or where consumers merely hop through, are not taken into consideration for the allocations into the three broadcaster groupings (SRG SSR, Swiss private channels, foreign channels).

The switch to the reference parameter of the daily reach will entail that more money is going to be distributed to Swiss channels. In the case of the calculation based on subscriber numbers so far, many foreign channels were taken into consideration which are in fact only used by a very small portion of subscribers. This will no longer be the case with a calculation basis in accordance with the daily reach.

IGE (Institute of Intellectual Property) decision dated 26/07/2017 (PDF 1.47 MB, only in German) in relation to “Review of item 5.5.1 distribution rules: Distribution of collections from CT 1, 2a and 2b”
Further information on the distribution keys of SUISA

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Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

In the last few years, cable network providers switched their offerings from analogue to digital. In order to take these changes into consideration, the distribution of the collections arising from Tariffs CT 1 (cable networks), CT 2a (retransmitters) and CT 2b (IP based networks) was aligned. In item 5.5.1 of the distribution rules the calculation basis of the reference parameter “number of subscribers” was changed to “daily reach”. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in relation to the distribution of Tariff CT 1 and CT 2 collections

Even though there is a plethora of digital TV programmes available, only a few of them fill TV screens for a longer period. (Foto: Zeber / Shutterstock.com)

Cable network providers have carried out a migration of their offerings from analogue to digital in the last few years. The number of the radio and TV programmes on offer is now many...read more

“Intuition and emotional effect are more important to me than inflexible concepts”

FONDATION SUISA awarded Balz Bachmann the Film Music Prize 2017 for his original compositions for Wilfried Meightry’s film documentary “Bis ans Ende der Träume” (Until the end of dreams). Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with Balz Bachmann.

Balz Bachmann: “Intuition and emotional effect are more important to me than inflexible concepts”

“Each film is exceptionally unique, that is why I look for a bespoke musical language for each film”, Balz Bachmann explains. (Photo: Patrick Hari)

Balz Bachmann, how did you get to create the film score for Wilfried Meichtry’s film documentary “Bis ans Ende der Träume”?
Balz Bachmann: It was the first time that I worked with Wilfried Meichtry. Plus, it was his début as a director; until now, the graduate historian had only been active as a scriptwriter in the film sector. We started chatting during the Solothurn Film Days and soon discussed film projects in general but also potential collaboration avenues. After further talks with involved parties, I received the script, read it and discussed with Wilfried Meichtry, the producer Urs Schnell (DokLab GmbH, Berne) and the editor, Annette Brütsch.

How exactly did you start your work?
Well, it was the classical procedure at first: I received some film material, sometimes just rough edits, so that I would get a feeling for the underlying mood. After that I started to create musical sketches and sent them to the cutters. We then took a look at the interaction with the image. The result was some sort of a ping pong game between my music and the cut, each of them reacting to the other and vice versa.

What was special about it?
I had to find a certain kind of dramaturgy for a complex combination of documentary and fictional image material. The challenge was to create an overarching dramaturgy for the entire film despite of this. It was a close collaboration between the editor, the director and myself in order to find out what is needed to achieve this. At the beginning we thought that 25 minutes of music should be enough (the film is 82 minutes long). We realised, however, that the image material was relatively static as it contained many photos, and had intentionally been staged this way, also in the fictional parts. As a consequence, we became aware that some sort of movement, another level was needed which co-told and commented on the story: more music.

Did you create a suitable sound library for the film score at the beginning of your work?
That would have been an interesting approach, but I went about it a different way. I have to try out in each case how the image and the sound work together. I try to sense with my intuition what happens to me as a viewer when I use certain moods, tones and musical themes. In the case of this film, I chose a broad tone range in order to make the different times and places perceptible. I also used diverse stylistic elements: classical parts with a viola, for example, but also those which related to the places in question, more musically than from a sound perspective. After all, I did not want to fall prey to the cliché of ethnic music.

“You have to develop a proper musical language for a film and that is only possible if you compose music specifically for this purpose.”

No ethnic Caribbean romanticism for the place where the two protagonists got to know and love each other?
Exactly, the music should be a narrative form in its own right, in which the place is resonating, yet is translated individually and separately. As a consequence, the range of the film score I have used stretches all the way to pure electronic music which creates a rather interesting contrast to the old woman, for example. I have been undecided for quite a while whether this might work, whether this might be plausible to the viewer. This applies to film score, similarly as it does to acting: You perceive a person and are taken in by it, without realising that the character of that person is just being acted. Parallel to that, music has to suck you into a film – that’s my top rule.

Have you used different musical settings for documentary and fictional material in order to illustrate the difference?
No, quite the opposite: I have tried to combine the two types of material and allow them to overlap. I wanted to create a fluent transition between the two, so that viewers transcend from the documentary into the fictional scenes without realising it.

What do you think of the two basic approaches of film score creation whereby it is either created to reinforce or contrast a theme?
I don’t like inflexible or purely theoretical music concepts, I love intuitive elaboration. Each film is extremely unique and represents its own world which is why I look for a proper musical language for each of them. That’s why film scores exist in the first place, even though there is already a plethora of existing music. But that is exactly my point: You have to develop a proper language for a film and that is only possible if you compose music specifically for this purpose.

Do you therefore also not work with “temp tracks” (a provisional soundtrack with already existing music to be able to test the effect of the existing film material)?
For a film composer like me, this is, of course, an emotive term (laughs). Editors in particular support the notion of creating a rhythm for the images or because they are worried that a scene alone is not enough to carry the mood. I do not think such arguments count because, in my opinion, the rhythm of images can be better perceived without provisional music. As a consequence I think it makes more sense if you create it “dry”, without temp tracks. There is, in my opinion, the rather interesting approach to compose film score purely on the basis of a script, without having images at all. As a composer, I can, in such instances, draw from my own vision and imagination which I have created after reading the script for this story. That gives me a lot of room and freedom.

You are then able to create an autonomous level which has not already been pre-influenced by images?
Exactly. The second advantage of doing this, is that you can work with music that has been specifically made for the script during the cutting process, and try out how the music works. The third advantage is that you maintain a high level of autonomy from the very start. After all, a major disadvantage of temp music is that it inevitably becomes a reference – especially for the director and the editor – from which it is hard to break away again. People connect the two levels, image and sound, automatically in an emotional manner, which is why it is so difficult to separate the two from each other later on.

“In a film documentary, the dramaturgy has to be developed in a different manner to a feature film, where the scenes and the dramaturgy are much more pre-established by the script.”

The soundtrack is always a means to support the viewer when the story is told. Do you connect characters and places with sounds and musical themes?
Yes, I use themes in nearly every film, they stand for something and are repeated, which helps the viewers with their orientation. If you have seen a scene with a certain type of music and the music is repeated at a later stage, you automatically and quickly get access to the next scene as it is connected through. As a consequence, it often serves as a starting point for a project that I hook into a place or a character. The more I engage with the character and allocate a certain musical theme to it, the more the film structure gets reinforced by this action, especially on an emotional level.

Does the majority of your work take place parallel to the cutting process?
Yes, that’s usually the case, but not to such a major extent as for the film “Bis ans Ende der Träume”. Here, the music and cutting process took place in synchronicity for nearly half a year, and the work was nearly finished at the same time. The reason for this was that the cut was leaning on the music much more than usual. In a film documentary, the dramaturgy has to simply be developed in a different manner to a feature film, where the scenes and the dramaturgy are much more pre-established by the script.

The collaboration between you and the editor Annette Brütsch was very intensive, I gather?
Yes, as it is a process where cutting and music react to one another. Have to react to one another, because there were extremely different thematic sections: for example the travelling, and the century-old Benedictine priory in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, where the woman later retires to completely – to a certain degree exactly the opposite, as she had enjoyed travelling to countries alone where women did not do so when she was young. We realised that the dilapidated house needed an atmosphere. But it was also clear that a melodic music would take up too much room, tell too much. I found it rather interesting at first how to deal with the ambient sound in the house. But I came to the conclusion that it’s not the room itself that makes the difference. The result was that I created a specific static sound for this house.

How did you meet the challenge of having to keep the suspense going for more than 82 minutes?
It is very important to watch the film as a whole during the screenings, since I only work on individual scenes. This is when you realise if there is something wrong with the rhythm of the film, as that is what matters. And we realised at some point that the viewer somehow fell into a hole when there was no music at all. That is how more and more music was added – now it is 60 minutes, which is a lot, especially as I prefer films with less music. But in this film, it simply made sense as it is an important element to convey emotion.

One and a half hours is not only the usual duration of a cinema film, but also of concerts. You are also active as a live musician, just like in the band of Sophie Hunger: Are there parallels?
Well, one factor that is certainly comparable whether it’s a performance during a concert or a film in the cinema: I am always nervous. I listen to music differently when an audience is present, my feelers are just opened much wider. That is different for a film such as “Bis ans Ende der Träume”: I had half a year’s time to create a dramaturgy.

Does your experience as a live musician also influence your work on sound tracks?
Absolutely. As a live musician, it’s all about moments of happiness where something special is being created. And that’s what I am looking for when I create film score, too.

Balz Bachmann (born 1971 in Zurich) is a trained printer and studied double base at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne. Since 1997, his main job has been to compose music for feature films and documentary films, among them “Yalom’s Cure” (2015), “Die Schwarzen Brüder” (2013), “Eine wen iig, dr Dällebach Kari” (2012), “Day is Done” (2011), “Giulias Verschwinden” (2009), “Sternenberg” (2004) and “Ernstfall in Havanna” (2002). Balz Bachmann is also an active musician and performs during many concerts together with artists such as Sophie Hunger and band. He is also President of Smeca, the Association of Swiss Media Composers.
Balz Bachmann had already received the Film Music Prize by FONDATION SUISA in 2003 (for “Little Girl Blue”) and in 2006 (for “Jeune homme”, together with Peter Bräker who, together with Michael Künstle was also involved in the development of the musical themes for the film in question “Bis ans Ende der Träume”). The award is valued at CHF 25,000 and is presented each year, alternating between the category feature film and documentary film.
The film “Bis ans Ende der Träume” tells the story of the Swiss travel journalist Katharina von Arx (1928 – 2013) and the French photographer Freddy Drilhon (1926 – 1976) in documentary and fictional sequences. They were adventurers, globetrotters and lovers. The couple settles down in a monastery ruin in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and soon faces the question how strong love is. The film is expected to be shown in cinemas in 2018.

Information on the Film Music Prize of the FONDATION SUISA
Video clip on the Film Music Prize 2017 of the FONDATION SUISA on Art-tv.ch

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FONDATION SUISA awarded Balz Bachmann the Film Music Prize 2017 for his original compositions for Wilfried Meightry’s film documentary “Bis ans Ende der Träume” (Until the end of dreams). Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with Balz Bachmann.

Balz Bachmann: “Intuition and emotional effect are more important to me than inflexible concepts”

“Each film is exceptionally unique, that is why I look for a bespoke musical language for each film”, Balz Bachmann explains. (Photo: Patrick Hari)

Balz Bachmann, how did you get to create the film score for Wilfried Meichtry’s film documentary “Bis ans Ende der Träume”?
Balz Bachmann: It was the first time that I worked with Wilfried Meichtry. Plus, it was his début as a director; until now, the graduate historian had only been active as a scriptwriter in the film sector. We started chatting during the Solothurn Film Days and soon discussed film projects...read more

Composition in time and space

On Saturday, 23 September 2017, during the Basel Biennale Zeiträume (‘spaces in time’), which unifies new music and architecture, one female and three male composers will discuss at an open platform how their works are created. Text by Erika Weibel

Composition in time and space

The Basel Biennale for new music and architecture hosts a composer panel under the title “creating spaces in time” on 23 September 2017 at 3.00pm. (Photo: Anna Katharina Scheidegger)

From 16 to 24 September 2017, Basel is opening its doors to an exciting listening experience: New music can be heard in the most unusual nooks and crannies of Basel’s alleys. Both young and old are invited to participate in this musical adventure. There is, for example, the indoor swimming pool performance of “Wasserspiel” (Compositions and improvisations for changing line-ups in the indoor swimming pool Spiegelfeld Binningen), but you can also enjoy the experience of an Alpine horn concert on the Basel Münsterplatz. Museums, towers, even cemeteries open their doors to the new music and provide the public with the opportunity to enjoy a completely new perception of time and space.

The festival Zeiträume stands out by commissioning composers to create works for pre-determined event spaces which will then have their première during the festival. The attentive listener does therefore not only benefit from listening to a variety of premières, but can witness which effect and impact the actual event space has had on the work of the composers.

Composer panel

A female and three male composers whose works have their premières during this year’s Biennale, will exchange their views during the public discussion “creating spaces in time” on 23 September 2017. How much have you been inspired by the event spaces in terms of composing your work? How do the works come into existence and for whom are they written? The composers speak of their work and provide information on their new works which they have created for the festival.

Free entrance – reservation required

Grab the opportunity to listen to the exchange of ideas among composers and to ask questions. You are also cordially invited to the ensuing aperitif where you can join in the continuation of philosophical conversations on the topic of creating compositions in time and space.

Werkraum Warteck PP / Restaurant Don Camillo, Burgweg 7, 4058 Basel
23 September, 3.00pm
Panel participants: Beat Gysin, Junghae Lee, Mario Pagliarani, Balthasar Streiff
Presentation: Bernhard Günther

Further information and a programme of the festival Zeiträume can be accessed at: www.zeitraeumebasel.com

The composers’ panel will be presented by SUISA.

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On Saturday, 23 September 2017, during the Basel Biennale Zeiträume (‘spaces in time’), which unifies new music and architecture, one female and three male composers will discuss at an open platform how their works are created. Text by Erika Weibel

Composition in time and space

The Basel Biennale for new music and architecture hosts a composer panel under the title “creating spaces in time” on 23 September 2017 at 3.00pm. (Photo: Anna Katharina Scheidegger)

From 16 to 24 September 2017, Basel is opening its doors to an exciting listening experience: New music can be heard in the most unusual nooks and crannies of Basel’s alleys. Both young and old are invited to participate in this musical adventure. There is, for example, the indoor swimming pool performance of “Wasserspiel” (Compositions and improvisations for changing line-ups in the indoor swimming...read more

Application process for the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2018 now open to SUISA members

For the sixth time now, Rudi Schedler Musikverlag GmbH is organising the international “Pop & Schlager Songwriter Camp” between 13 and 18 January 2018. SUISA members may submit their application for a place in the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2018 until 31 October 2017. Text by Fiona Schedler, Schedler Music

Application process for the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2018 now open to SUISA members

International teamwork during the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2016: Luca Hänni, from Berne (in the background, on the right) composed a song together with Dillon Dixon, from the USA (left) and Erik Wigelius, from Sweden. (Photo: Ratko Photography)

At the “Pop & Schlager Songwriter Camp” by Schedler Music, songwriters from more than seven countries, in teams of three, compose potential hits of tomorrow under the motto “It’s all about the song” over a period of five days. A total of 35 national and international composers take part in the camp, whereby five places are specifically allocated to SUISA members. Composers, lyricists and producers may, with immediate effect and until 31 October 2017 at the latest, apply for participation in the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp which will be held between 13 and 18 January 2018 in Steeg, Austria.

Application, selection process, participation

The participation spaces shall be allocated by way of a selection process. If you are a composer, lyricist or producer and wish to participate in the “Pop & Schlager Songwriter Camp”, please submit:

  • a short biography (keywords are sufficient)
  • and reference songs (mp3 files or links)

via e-mail, stating the reference “Application – Pop & Schlager Songwriter Camp” to the following address: summit (at) schedlermusic (dot) com. Please mention in your application that you are a SUISA member. Closing date will be 31/10/2017. Schedler Music will get in touch with the songwriters that have been selected by the end of November.

Application process for the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2018 now open to SUISA members

Enthusiastic participants at the Songwriter Camp 2016: Slovenian songwriter team Sasa Lendero (in the middle) and Mihael Hercog (on the left) with German lyricist Oliver Lukas. (Photo: Ratko Photography)

Schedler Music Summit 2018

Immediately after the songwriter camp, the music industry meeting “Schedler Music Summit” takes place on 18 and 19 January 2018. Any newly created songs from the Camp will be showcased at this occasion in the course of a “song presentation” on Thursday, 18 January 2018 (from 8.00 pm) to the music industry audience.

Further information on the camp is available on the following website: www.schedlermusicsummit.com.
The Camp/Summit Aftermovie 2017, also provides a great insight.

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For the sixth time now, Rudi Schedler Musikverlag GmbH is organising the international “Pop & Schlager Songwriter Camp” between 13 and 18 January 2018. SUISA members may submit their application for a place in the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2018 until 31 October 2017. Text by Fiona Schedler, Schedler Music

Application process for the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2018 now open to SUISA members

International teamwork during the Schedler Music Songwriter Camp 2016: Luca Hänni, from Berne (in the background, on the right) composed a song together with Dillon Dixon, from the USA (left) and Erik Wigelius, from Sweden. (Photo: Ratko Photography)

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Toni Vescoli: A year full of vitality and anniversaries

Toni Vescoli was born on 18th July, 75 years ago. 55 years ago, on 19th September, the musician from Zurich founded the legendary beat music band Les Sauterelles. It is celebrating its anniversary with a tour that starts during the “Beatles week” in Liverpool. At the same time, Toni Vescoli continues to perform with his dialect projects “MacheWasiWill” (dowhatilike), “imDUO” and “Toni VESCOLI&Co”. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

Toni Vescoli: A year full of vitality and anniversaries

Toni Vescoli, SUISA member since 1967 has not only influenced Swiss beat music, but has also been pioneering dialect performances, playing Dylan songs and narrating Pingu radio plays (Photo: Kessler)

Five years ago, during the TV programme “Stars extra”, Toni Vescoli said – with an embarrassed grin on his face – that he did not succumb to the DOG, the delusions of grandeur. The show’s presenter Sandra Studer had asked him what it had been like to have led the Swiss charts in 1968 with Les Sauterelles (“Heavenly Club”), topping even the Beatles (“Hey Jude”). With his statement, the singer, guitarist and songwriter from Zurich has described his own character pretty well. While it is obvious that he is still enjoying to perform at concerts to this day, it is because of the music, and not the limelight.

Toni Vescoli was already “extremely” upset, back in 1964, that their impresario had invented an additional name for Les Sauterelles and even printed it bigger than the original band name on the placards: “The Swiss Beatles”. He did not wish to compare himself to other stars but be a creator in his own right. No later than in during the 1970s did he choose to follow his own path, irrespective of trends and hip places.

The path to beat music

His passion for music had, however, not been triggered by the English beat music artists but by American stars such as Johnny Cash and especially Elvis Presley. Toni Vescoli told the author of this article in a former interview that he had already played such kind of music at the end of the fifties. He did so standing on a table in a hip café in Zurich’s Niederdorf quarter, and on a larger scale, sometimes accompanied by a Dixie band. The changeover to beat music was initiated by the Shadows with their unique sound using electric guitars.

He needed a band to do this which is why he founded Les Sauterelles in 1962 whose entire history has been influenced by many changes in terms of the band members. The single “Heavenly Club” brought about the commercial peak in 1968. It was released in the majority of European countries as well as in the US and in Japan. Sometimes they played up to seven hours, performing in up to 350 concerts per year. Nevertheless the band was facing financial problems which is why Toni Vescoli placed an obituary in 1970 announcing: “Les Sauterelles are dead”.

The legendary Swiss beat music band Les Sauterelles was founded 55 years ago. In 2017, the band is celebrating its anniversary with a tour that starts in Liverpool. (Photo: Gerhard Born)

American influences

It was folk music and especially Bob Dylan which lured Toni Vescoli back to American songwriting and music and influenced his solo career; his album “Bob Dylan Songs” (1993) is a tribute to this, featuring adaptations in the Zurich dialect of Swiss German. Folk music, together with the West Coast music of the 1970s was his entry point to his later mix of Americana music, Toni Vescoli explained in an interview. But his classic hits “Susanne” and “N1” had actually already been country music songs, bordering on bluegrass music.

In the early 1980s, Toni Vescoli returned to rock music, while influenced by Ry Cooder he became a fan of the accordionist Flaco Jimenez who then turned out to play on his album “Tegsass” (1999). Said Tex-Mex reminded him of his youth in Peru (between the age of four and nine), when they listened to Mexican folk songs on the radio. Together with Cajun music, this definitely rubbed off on the Americana album “66” (2008), in particular the lively single track “El Parasito”.

Dialect pioneer

More important than the change in style was Toni Vescoli’s pioneering change to dialect in 1970. He had been instructed by the magazine “Pop” to write a song for the unveiling ceremony of a Wilhelm Tell monument. Instead of writing the lyrics in High German, he felt that Swiss dialect was more apt – and the song hit the right note with the public. He wrote more songs in dialect but his producer felt in 1971 that the time wasn’t right for that yet.

As a consequence, his first album in dialect was not released until 1974 – and Reinhard Mey’s cover version of the song “Susanne” got released before Vescoli’s original. His song “N1” with which he broached the issue of the ambivalent character of the N1 motorway (today’s A1) connecting Switzerland, is also rather striking. “N1 Du bisch e Schtraass wo-n i hass, aber irgendwie han-i Di gern” (N1 you’re a road that I hate but somehow I like you, too); he had already written a popular hit about traffic: “Scho Root” (Red lights again) (1975).

Modest and down-to-earth to this day: Toni Vescoli. (Photo: Plain)

New combinations

What was unusual at the time was that Toni Vescoli combined his dialect lyrics with American music and thus broke open songwriter traditions. He did realise at the time that he was able to reach people much more directly by singing his songs in dialect. As a consequence, he developed his music into a style where the lyrics can be followed better. This led him to folk music which he could also perform on his own.

When he was consequently hired by a small theatre once, he realised that he no longer needed amplifiers and that an acoustic guitar was enough. He thus landed in a music environment which he had not been looking for but where he felt at ease: He continued to play without an amplifying system for nearly 18 years. At some point, however, he felt that this environment where people were “hanging on to his every word”, became too imposing for his liking. He wanted to play electric guitar again, and that’s what the song “Wäge Dir” (because of you) is about.

Words for a love song

The changeover to dialect had not been easy. If you sing in dialect, you have to be very careful about what you wish to sing, Toni Vescoli mentioned in an interview. It was not that easy to sing “ich liebe Dich” (I love you) – even if nowadays these words are not as embarrassing anymore, as the current world of dialect music shows.

Toni Vescoli broached the issue of the difficulty to find words for a love song with the title “Lady Lo” where he sings himself to the conclusion that: “öisi Schprach isch unbruchbar” (our language is useless). It was meant to be a love song for his wife, Toni Vescoli explained, but turned into a confession of failing with regards to finding the right lyrics. It all sounded kitschy and plump – and that is why he turned it into the theme of the song. Where words become useless for the purpose of expressing feelings, the question could be asked whether playing pure instrumental music might be the solution. Toni Vescoli replies to this and laughs that he simply wasn’t good enough as a solo guitarist to do just that.

Indeed, Toni Vescoli has not succumbed to any delusion of grandeur to this day. And he has continued to show that he does not have any fear of being in touch with young musicians or other styles such as hip-hop. In 2012, for example, he presented his interpretation of Baba Uslender’s “Baustellsong” (construction site song) in a show of the “Cover me” series on SRF television. Toni Vescoli has remained young in terms of his music – and may that be so in future!

Information and live dates: www.vescoli.ch (e.g. Performances with Les Sauterelles in Liverpool during the “Beatles week” from 25-28 August).

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Toni Vescoli was born on 18th July, 75 years ago. 55 years ago, on 19th September, the musician from Zurich founded the legendary beat music band Les Sauterelles. It is celebrating its anniversary with a tour that starts during the “Beatles week” in Liverpool. At the same time, Toni Vescoli continues to perform with his dialect projects “MacheWasiWill” (dowhatilike), “imDUO” and “Toni VESCOLI&Co”. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

Toni Vescoli: A year full of vitality and anniversaries

Toni Vescoli, SUISA member since 1967 has not only influenced Swiss beat music, but has also been pioneering dialect performances, playing Dylan songs and narrating Pingu radio plays (Photo: Kessler)

Five years ago, during the TV programme “Stars extra”, Toni Vescoli said – with an embarrassed grin on his face – that he did not succumb to the DOG, the delusions of grandeur. The...read more

SUISA, an attractive employer

One day ahead of the General Assembly 2017, SUISA’s Committees for Tariffs and Distribution, for Organisation and Communication as well as the entire SUISA Board held their respective meetings. Agenda items for discussion included the auditors’ report, a new set of staff regulations for SUISA employees and a resolution for a strong public service, among others. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

SUISA, an attractive employer

The SUISA Board approved a revised set of staff regulations following its meeting in June 2017 which provides for the developments in human resources management and helps SUISA to remain an attractive employer. The majority of staff are based in the office location in Zurich-Wollishofen’s Bellariastrasse (pictured). (Photo: SUISA)

The SUISA Board with its 15 members makes up the governing body in charge of steering and overseeing the Cooperative Society. Its members represent Switzerland’s various musical repertoires, professions and language regions. All Board members are also active in one of the three Board Committees.

On 22 June 2017, one day ahead of SUISA’s General Assembly, the members of the Committee for Tariffs and Distribution, and after that, the Committee for Organisation and Communication gathered for their meetings. The main Board held its own session in the afternoon of that day, its members listened to updates, held discussions and cast decisions.

Auditors’ reports

At the end of the business year, BDO, SUISA’s auditors, created two reports: The explanatory report for the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the supervisory authority of the Swiss collective management organisations; and the comprehensive report for the Board. The latter is instrumental for detecting potential for improvement and to deduce the relevant measures that need to be taken.

New staff regulations

The staff regulations for SUISA employees has been updated in 2013 for the last time. Since then, quite a bit has changed. Changes in labour legislation required that executive staff should log their times, provisions for continued pay in cases of illness had to be adapted, the regulations for copyright concerning work output were extended, and the auditors of SUISA had demanded that an anti-corruption article should be implemented into the staff regulations.

Parallel to these changes, the strict attendance times of old were replaced by so-called service times. Flexible working times help employees to get a better work-life balance. SUISA can balance workload peaks better with this new model. Members and customers will hardly notice any changes. The service times correspond with the previous opening times. During these opening times, staff members can be contacted and all service ranges offered are ensured.

The Board has ratified the new staff regulations. SUISA thus holds a set of rules which caters for the developments in human resources management and helps it to remain an attractive employer.

SRG SSR and public service

As already reported, public and political pressure on the public service has been growing. Restrictions or possibly the axing of the latter would have grave consequences for Swiss music creators – not just in terms of financial income. They would lose an important platform for their music and reports about related issues.

The Board has adopted a resolution to be presented at the General Assembly. SUISA members thus request Swiss Parliament members to consider the role of the reception fee-financed broadcasters when they discuss the “No Billag” initiative and when they contemplate the restrictions regarding SRG SSR in order not to weaken the position of the broadcaster. The text of the resolution can be read on the SUISA webpage and can also be electronically signed there.

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One day ahead of the General Assembly 2017, SUISA’s Committees for Tariffs and Distribution, for Organisation and Communication as well as the entire SUISA Board held their respective meetings. Agenda items for discussion included the auditors’ report, a new set of staff regulations for SUISA employees and a resolution for a strong public service, among others. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

SUISA, an attractive employer

The SUISA Board approved a revised set of staff regulations following its meeting in June 2017 which provides for the developments in human resources management and helps SUISA to remain an attractive employer. The majority of staff are based in the office location in Zurich-Wollishofen’s Bellariastrasse (pictured). (Photo: SUISA)

The SUISA Board with its 15 members makes up the governing body in charge of steering and overseeing the Cooperative Society....read more