“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

Under the title “Musicians in Conversation”, Helvetiarockt – the Swiss coordination office and networking platform for female musicians in jazz, pop, and rock, launched a podcast series in December 2020. The second series starts on Friday 7 January 2022. The focus is on fostering the visibility of role models and on networking within the Swiss music scene. SUISA is a partner of the new podcast series. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

In the first episode of the Helvetiarockt podcast, musician and sound engineer Anna Murphy talks about the creative process in songwriting and her path to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production. (Photo: Valentina Mahler)

Anna Murphy, La Nefera, Jessiquoi and Jasmin Albash Natalia Anderson – these are just a few of the female, non-binary, trans and intersex musicians and DJ’s who will be given their say in the second series of Helvetiarockt’s “Musicians in Conversation” podcasts. The podcasts discuss music in general, and creative processes and individual experiences in the music business. In the process, Helvetiarockt is looking to create multifarious role models for female musicians.

The podcast guests and their stories are highly motivational cases in point. They show that there are different paths and possibilities for a professional career in the music world, and that no one taking this step is alone. The podcast does not only address aspiring musicians; it essentially seeks to inspire everyone – including non-musicians – and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the music business.

The interviews are conducted by Natalia Anderson, a Geneva-based musician, DJ, and journalist from London. In its press release, Helvetiarockt quotes Natalia Anderson: “We are trying to demystify the music business and show that there are many different ways to get involved in music. The podcast is about giving visibility to underrepresented groups in the Swiss music scene – in all their facets.”

Women in the music industry

Compared with their male colleagues, women are a minority in the Swiss music industry. According to Helvetiarockt, the share of female musicians on Swiss stages is a meagre 11%. In music production, women are even fewer – only 2%.

This is also reflected in the share of SUISA’s female membership, which is currently only slightly over 19% of the total. Even if the trend is inching upward – in recent years, the proportion of women among SUISA’s new members was 21% in 2018 and 2019, 23% in 2020, and 26% in 2021 – the gender imbalance in the Swiss music industry remains comparatively high given that women represent over 50% of the general population.

The Helvetiarockt podcast aims to give this (still) minority group of musicians and creators greater visibility and to help and encourage aspiring musicians make their way ahead in the music business.

SUISA partners Helvetiarockt

SUISA is partnering the second series of “Musicians in Conversation”. SUISA has supported Helvetiarockt, financially and in terms of visibility, since 2019 as part of a sponsoring commitment.

The second series of the Helvetiarockt podcasts starts on Friday 7 January; a new episode will be released every second week. The guest on the first episode is Anna Murphy, sound engineer, composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. In this podcast, Anna talks about the creative process in songwriting and the road to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production.

To access the podcasts “Musicians in Conversation”, follow this link:
www.helvetiarockt.ch/podcasts

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Under the title “Musicians in Conversation”, Helvetiarockt – the Swiss coordination office and networking platform for female musicians in jazz, pop, and rock, launched a podcast series in December 2020. The second series starts on Friday 7 January 2022. The focus is on fostering the visibility of role models and on networking within the Swiss music scene. SUISA is a partner of the new podcast series. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

In the first episode of the Helvetiarockt podcast, musician and sound engineer Anna Murphy talks about the creative process in songwriting and her path to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production. (Photo: Valentina Mahler)

Anna Murphy, La Nefera, Jessiquoi and Jasmin Albash Natalia Anderson – these are just a few of the female,...read more

“You know the song somehow but it presents itself in a completely different guise” | plus video

Alfred Schweizer reports on working on his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”. He analysed characteristic elements within Beethoven’s variations and within the Grenchnerlied itself, strung them together and then expanded on them further. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Alfred Schweizer: “You know the song somehow but it presents itself in a completely different guise”

Alfred Schweizer in conversation about his composition “Beethoven und ein Schweizer Lied ” in March 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

“I immediately had an idea”, explains Alfred Schweizer regarding the question how he arrived at his approach for his composition once he had been asked to participate in the “Beethoven reflections”. “Among Beethoven’s first works were trio pieces for piano, clarinet and cello.” When Kaspar Zehnder, the initiator of the project and a flautist, asked whether he wanted to add a flute, he said: “Yes, very much so!”

For the composer from Twann it soon was clear enough that he wanted to tie his piece to the Beethoven variations. He listened to this work and recognised a classical form of the melody which he was now going to use in C major and not in F major. “It is a small three-part song form which is very typical for Beethoven but also Mozart, for that particular period.” He then consulted the folk song collection “In the rose garden” (“Im Röseligarte”) by Otto von Greyerz where the original piece was called “The old Grenchner song” (“Das alte Grenchnerlied”). “That one sounds slightly different, not only in terms of its rhythm: It is possible that this is the original melody because it does not have the clear, calibrated classical form but rather a continuing, narrating form.”

In line with this, Alfred Schweizer also let himself be inspired by the song lyrics where Dursli asks for the hand of Babeli in marriage, but is rejected by her parents. “What I liked at the end is that Dursli wants to write to his Babeli from his military service in Flanders: ‘And if the sky was made of paper and each star was a writer and each writer had seven, seven hands, they would write no end to my love.’(‘U wenn der Himmel papierig wär, u jede Stern e Schriber wär, u jeder Schriber hätt siebe, siebe Händ, sie schribe doch miner Liebi kes End’).” In view of this beautiful ending, he decided to relate his composition first to Beethoven’s variations and then the original song version: “at the beginning rather fast-paced, afterwards rather lyrical and finally let it wind down with an atmospheric ending, in the sense of ‘No end to my love’ (‘Der Liebe kein End’)”.

According to his own statement, Alfred Schweizer could not help it but to include Beethoven in a more general sense in his composition, even if only in very small parts. “For me, Beethoven is simply embodied in the c minor chord! But also in a brilliant E-flat major.” What is crucial is how to integrate such references. “You should realise it (when listening) but only ever when it is already over.” This is also true for the other references. “I am looking for the characteristic elements within Beethoven’s variations and within the Grenchnerlied. I then string them together and continue to spin them out. I also check whether I can use these melodic elements in a harmonic manner.”

Alfred Schweizer has, up to that point in time, mainly worked on the melodic level. So much so, that he suddenly realised that he had slid back into contrapuntal creation. He laughs and adds that it already sounded just like in a Fugue. “I very often use the piano in a melodic manner so that these melodies interlink. And if I wish to set a harmonic emphasis or place an accent, I use a chord.” In the case of the piano, the risk was, however, high that an Oom-pah-pah background was created.

At the time of the conversation, early March 2020, Alfred Schweizer had composed about two thirds of his piece which was set to last about six to seven minutes. He was now at a point where he wanted to let it quietly wind down. “I now have to be careful that it does not begin to drone. But I am aware of such risks. And I work hard that a sound ambience is created where people say, ‘I know the song somehow but it presents itself in a completely different guise’. That is actually my goal.”

During his work as a composer, Alfred Schweizer takes a chronological approach. This did not mean, however, that he had planned an increasing shift towards a legato. “Regarding the form of articulation, I do not comment on it in many of my pieces. Johann Sebastian Bach composed magnificent music but did not annotate that you would have to connect it, play it piano here and forte there!” Alfred Schweizer is convinced that the musicians who will interpret the piece are “clever enough” to know how they were supposed to play something.

When it comes to the execution, the musicians could bring in their own qualities. According to Alfred Schweizer, this does, however, require that the musicians rehearse the work several times and can thus grow into the piece how it is the case for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”. Nevertheless, a certain anticipation how it will sound at the premiere remains. This has also got something to do with the fact that, while composing, he lets a synthesizer generate a few instruments in order to evaluate the interplay of the timbres. He was actually working intensively with timbres of the instruments and wanted to achieve that they could present themselves in their optimal sound effect. He was therefore looking forward to listening to the piece being performed by people with real instruments.

Alfred Schweizer was born in Sevelen SG in 1941. He studied musicology and linguistics at the University in Berne and enjoyed an education at the Conservatory in Berne and the Music Academy in Basel. He was active in several improvisation groups and at the Swiss Centre for Computer Music. Between 1970 and 2003, he was a lecturer for music theory and composition at the Conservatory and the University for Music and Theatre in Biel. www.classic2000.ch
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, was Kaspar Zehnder who had been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings have been available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” and are released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project is also documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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Alfred Schweizer reports on working on his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”. He analysed characteristic elements within Beethoven’s variations and within the Grenchnerlied itself, strung them together and then expanded on them further. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Alfred Schweizer: “You know the song somehow but it presents itself in a completely different guise”

Alfred Schweizer in conversation about his composition “Beethoven und ein Schweizer Lied ” in March 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

“I immediately had an idea”, explains Alfred Schweizer regarding the question how he arrived at his approach for his composition once he had been asked to participate in the “Beethoven reflections”. “Among Beethoven’s first works were trio pieces for piano, clarinet and cello.” When Kaspar Zehnder, the initiator of the project and a flautist, asked whether he wanted to add a flute, he said: “Yes, very much so!”

For the...read more

Musikexport – quo vadis?

Covid-19, digitisation, climate crisis: Musikexport in extraordinary times. Experiences and thoughts on the subject by Marcel Kaufmann, responsible at FONDATION SUISA for its presence abroad and the export promotion.

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

Will there ever be a back to “normal” times? The Swiss joint exhibition stand at the jazzahead! Bremen 2019. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Since the internet revolution of the 90ies, the value creation on the music market shifted to a large part towards the live sector. Concerts became the most important income stream for many musicians. One of the consequences was that numerous showcase events were launched. Artists could perform in front of international experts during short live concerts. This was done in the hope that they would get bookings in bigger clubs or festivals or taken under contract by international agencies. Together with various partners, the FONDATION SUISA supports the export endeavours of the domestic creators. For many years, the foundation organises Swiss networking platforms at international conferences and events.

This well-functioning system of travel, performances and shaking hands was brought to an abrupt halt by the pandemic. It was more or less overnight that music creators lost a large portion of their income, and at the same time also their export paths.

What now? How can they bridge this period? And what would happen if the “normality” we all love so much is never to return?

FONDATION SUISA took part in many pilot projects last year, tested chat tools, supported showcase videos via streams and negotiated potential new subsidising avenues with event organisers and promoters. “An interesting experience”, “a welcome transitional solution”, but surely “no surrogate for a real live performance”: This is our verdict at the end of 2020, in conformity with a large group of music creators and event organisers.

“Networking via the internet is, to many, still a very strange concept.”

The pandemic entailed cancellations of practically all physical face-to-face music conferences and exhibitions in 2020. Some, like Midem or WOMEX tried to hold virtual events. Back then, the planning insecurity was still too high. It was impossible to even consider being able to organise concerts again in the near future. In line with this, promoters booked much less artists during such online events than for physical events with a face-to-face audience. The ambiance of a live concerts can also not be recreated on a 1:1 level. And networking via the internet is, to many, still a very strange concept.

The most recent virtually held jazzahead! in Bremen confirmed these findings to a large degree. Ok, so it was easier to establish contact among those accredited for participation via the internet than on heaving exhibition grounds. In the absence of a collective feeling, however, you soon turn into a lone fighter. The real success of the Swiss presence at the biggest jazz conference in the world this year will only emerge in a few weeks and after surveys and conversations. In the past, it was possible to draw conclusions on the last day of the conference.

The two Swiss live acts in the official showcase programme of the jazzahead! chose different approaches: The formation The True Harry Nulz performed live in Bremen in front of a handful of journalists which at least applauded after each song which could be heard in the live stream. The showcase of the Luzia von Wyl Ensemble, however, had been pre-produced without an audience in the Moods in Zurich and then streamed. The silence between the pieces and the lack of feedback leave the performers in a vacuum.

“We must constantly create new scenarios, remain open and critically assess our own impressions.”

Now that in the face of the vaccination campaigns there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel again, it would be easy to fall into a state of hopeful anticipation and do away with the online world as a pure temporary solution. In a time, however, where our entire work life is significantly changed by the digitisation, many questions arise: Is there possibly more export potential in the online world as previously assumed? Can we even afford the old “normal” in times of a global climate crisis which will survive each pandemic? A crisis which is going to have a lasting effect on generations of future music creators and take many opportunities away from them?

There are still no conclusive answers to all of these questions. The most important developments do not take place online but in our heads. And these developments take more time than the technological ones. Until then, we must constantly create new scenarios, remain open and critically assess our own impressions. The most important factor is: listen to the music creators. Because their art must find its way across the country borders, also in the future. For them, FONDATION SUISA will continue to actively monitor and influence the developments in the music export world.

New Get Going! Invitation to tender
For the fourth time, the FONDATION SUISA is going to launch an invitation to tender regarding Get Going! contributions at the end of June / beginning of July. More information regarding the kick-off financing for extraordinary projects can be found in good time on the website of the foundation: www.fondation-suisa.ch
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Covid-19, digitisation, climate crisis: Musikexport in extraordinary times. Experiences and thoughts on the subject by Marcel Kaufmann, responsible at FONDATION SUISA for its presence abroad and the export promotion.

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

Will there ever be a back to “normal” times? The Swiss joint exhibition stand at the jazzahead! Bremen 2019. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Since the internet revolution of the 90ies, the value creation on the music market shifted to a large part towards the live sector. Concerts became the most important income stream for many musicians. One of the consequences was that numerous showcase events were launched. Artists could perform in front of international experts during short live concerts. This was done in the hope that they would get bookings in bigger clubs or festivals or taken under contract by international agencies. Together with various partners, the...read more

A career as a producer of electronic music?

In cooperation with SUISA and the association “Cultures électroniques”, the Electron Festival, music festival for electronic music in Geneva, is going to organise a discussion panel on Saturday, 04 May 2019. It is the objective of the panel to show composers which means and ways they have available in order to support them for their professional career. Text by Erika Weibel

Electron Festival: A career as a producer of electronic music?

Electron Festival: SUISA panel with networking event on Saturday, 04 May 2019, in Geneva: “A career as a producer of electronic music? A real challenge!” ((Photo: Electron Festival)

The path to success is often strewn with stones for composers and requires a lot of resilience. Numerous successful Swiss producers of electronic music have also had this experience.

In the course of the 2019 Electron Festival, the music festival for electronic music in Geneva, various music producers are going to talk about their careers at a public SUISA panel. During their discussions with those in charge of funding institutions as well as with experts from the music industry, they are going to screen specific support options and jointly analyse the current situation of electronic music in Switzerland. The main objective of the discussion panel is to inform composers on the existing support infrastructure and to follow up on the question whether the existing structures are sufficient.

The audience is cordially invited to contribute its own experiences to the discussion. Once the panel has ended, there is an informal drinks reception offering the audience the opportunity to continue the conversation with those in charge of funding institutions and the artists.

The SUISA panel at the Electron Festival 2019

“A career as a producer of electronic music? A real challenge!”
takes place with a drinks reception afterwards:
on Saturday, 04 May 2019, 4.00pm, at Crea, Rue Eugene Marziano 25, in Geneva

Panellists:
Dominique Berlie, Cultural Counsel, Service culturel (SEC) of the city of Geneva
Marius Käser, Pop music, Pro Helvetia
Albane Schlechten, Director FCMA, Antenne Romande Swiss Music Export
Manuela Jutzi, Co-Managing Director, Helvetia Rockt

Participating music creators:
Deetron
Garance
Ripperton
Opuswerk
Ramin & Reda
Honorée & Kaylee

Presentation: Anne Flament (RTS-Couleur3)

The Electron Festival shall take place between 25 April and 05 May 2019 in Geneva. Further information on the Festival can be accessed here: www.electronfestival.ch

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In cooperation with SUISA and the association “Cultures électroniques”, the Electron Festival, music festival for electronic music in Geneva, is going to organise a discussion panel on Saturday, 04 May 2019. It is the objective of the panel to show composers which means and ways they have available in order to support them for their professional career. Text by Erika Weibel

Electron Festival: A career as a producer of electronic music?

Electron Festival: SUISA panel with networking event on Saturday, 04 May 2019, in Geneva: “A career as a producer of electronic music? A real challenge!” ((Photo: Electron Festival)

The path to success is often strewn with stones for composers and requires a lot of resilience. Numerous successful Swiss producers of electronic music have also had this experience.

In the course of the 2019 Electron Festival, the music festival for electronic music in Geneva,...read more

“SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

The programme of the Murten Classics Festival included a full day of contemporary music on 25 August 2018 as part of the concert series “Offen für Neues”. The concert day, supported by SUISA and recorded by Radio SRF 2 Kultur, met with a positive response all round. Text by Manu Leuenberger

Belenus Quartett: “SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

In the third and final concert of the “Offen für Neues” series on 25 August 2018 at the Murten Classics Festival, the Belenus Quartet performed works by Daniel Schnyder, Cécile Marti, Iris Szeghy and Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez. (Photo: Willi Piller)

The programme for this outstanding day of concerts at the Murten Classics Festival began early, with guests arriving in numbers at the Kultur im Beaulieu (KiB) concert hall in Murten in time for the opening speech by the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret at 10:00 am. The three-concert series, featuring works by 13 contemporary composers, attracted interest from far beyond the region’s borders. In a review published two days after the event, the “Freiburger Nachrichten” wrote: “There was hardly a spare seat inside the cultural centre.”

The festival guide had announced the SUISA-supported day of concerts in the “Offen für Neues” series as “a day of encounter”. This proved to be true in several respects on the day itself on Saturday, 25 August 2018: thanks to the wide range of works performed, the audience had a chance to discover the tonal variety of the contemporary compositions. Many of the composers whose pieces were played had travelled to Murten themselves, where they provided insights into their musical philosophy in short introductory speeches. The musicians in attendance also engaged in lively discussions during the breaks between the three concerts.

Well organised, interpreted and integrated

One of the ideas behind the day was “not to try and impress with premières, but instead to show a broad musical spectrum”, explained Roman Brotbeck, who as the moderator guided the audience through the programme. Andreas Zurbriggen praised this approach in his review in “Schweizer Musikzeitung” (September/October 2018). According to him, there are enough world premières, but the same cannot be said of second and third performances of contemporary pieces. Zurbriggen believes the organisers succeeded in their aim, with the artistic director, Kaspar Zehnder, demonstrating his talent for putting together a programme and “allowing different worlds to collide”. “And the interpretations, such as those of the Belenus Quartet, the pianist Gilles Grimaître and Ensemble mit vier, were of a very high standard”, wrote the reviewer in the same article.

The review of the concert day in the “Freiburger Nachrichten” concluded by saying: “It’s good that there is a place for these kinds of experiments in the festival programme alongside the popular concerts.” The ambitious “Offen für Neues” one-day project of the Murten Classics Festival and SUISA met with a positive response all round, as also shown by the feedback from the participants below.

In its programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” on Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 9 pm, Radio SRF 2 Kultur will play excerpts from the three concerts held on 25 August 2018.

Katrin Frauchiger

In her short introductory speech, composer Katrin Frauchiger from Berne explained her piece “Mare nostrum” for flute and string trio, which was subsequently played in concert. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Katrin Frauchiger, composer and singer, lecturer HSLU:

“As a composer, I greatly appreciate the joint commitment made by Murten Classics and SUISA in hosting an entire day of contemporary music. The organisers’ courage in sending out an important message within the context of the Murten Festival paid off in every respect: the event attracted a large audience of extremely interested people who were open to new music.
Three fresh, carefully curated concerts were presented with a speech and introduction, and each had an inspiring theme for the listener: Waves from another world / Immigration-Emigration / Roots and great places. In a conversation with Roman Brotbeck, I had the opportunity to personally introduce my piece ‘Mare Nostrum’ and thus open the door to a beautiful performance of my music. The other composers present also had the same opportunity. The interaction between the audience and the composers was equally valuable, some of whom had travelled from afar.”

Irene Minder-Jeanneret

“An architect can make a living from their compositions, but this is hardly true for a composer”, said the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret during the opening speech, going on to explain why Swiss music artists deserve more recognition. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret, musicologist, member of the Dictionary of Music in Switzerland steering group:

“SUISA Day offered a valuable and rare tour of both the music industry and the cultural-political significance of music in Switzerland. It illustrated the gap between the lively and exceptional musical reality in our country and the lack of political recognition. Although a third of the population is actively involved in making music, Switzerland is still not perceived as a musical country. Creating, making, teaching, distributing and documenting music are equal facets of an important cultural sector, and they deserve to be recognised, promoted and made known at all political levels. Just as in the film industry, there are some activities in the musical field that cannot be supported by the cantons alone.
As a member of the Dictionary of Music in Switzerland steering group, SUISA Day gave me a unique opportunity to talk to participants from all areas of music. Without doubt, the event also helped to raise awareness of the individual concerns.”

Kaspar Zehnder

The artistic director of the Murten Classics Festival, Kaspar Zehnder, also played the flute at SUISA Day. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Kaspar Zehnder, artistic director of Murten Classics and curator of the first ‘SUISA Day’ on 25 August 2018:

“The heterogeneity and diversity of the programme made for an interesting and exciting day. Through combination of a wide variety of aesthetics, it provided the perfect stage for the audience, composers, presenters and performers to engage in lively discussions, or to enjoy a slice of Murten cream cake and a glass of red wine from Vully in rapt silence.
At the very least, SUISA Day should become a biennial tradition at the Murten Classics.”

www.murtenclassics.ch

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Festival Archipel: Career and calling | plus videoCareer and calling | plus video How do I found and run an ensemble for contemporary music? Where do I get subsidies for my music projects from? What is the purpose of SUISA and Swissperform? How do I distribute my works via the internet? Impressions gathered during the first ever “Journée d’orientation professionelle” at the Festival Archipel 2017. Read more
Jazz in Bess: 20,000 Swiss Francs and an imaginary composition project20,000 Swiss Francs and an imaginary composition project To discuss artistic creation is anything but simple. That’s why Swiss association Jazzy Jams and SUISA have come up with something special in the course of the Jazz Festival in Bess (Lugano). Composer Maria Bonzanigo, from Ticino, and composers Pietro Viviani and Damiano Merzari developed an imaginary composition project in front of the audience. The result was rather fascinating and took those present on a journey into the thought-world of authors. Read more
FONDATION SUISA: New support strategy: “We want to look ahead”New support strategy: “We want to look ahead” FONDATION SUISA reinforces its activities regarding the support of music in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein: Each year, four music projects shall be launched under the motto “Get Going!”, and every other year, a bigger amount shall be allocated to works under the slogan “Carte Blanche”. Read more
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The programme of the Murten Classics Festival included a full day of contemporary music on 25 August 2018 as part of the concert series “Offen für Neues”. The concert day, supported by SUISA and recorded by Radio SRF 2 Kultur, met with a positive response all round. Text by Manu Leuenberger

Belenus Quartett: “SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

In the third and final concert of the “Offen für Neues” series on 25 August 2018 at the Murten Classics Festival, the Belenus Quartet performed works by Daniel Schnyder, Cécile Marti, Iris Szeghy and Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez. (Photo: Willi Piller)

The programme for this outstanding day of concerts at the Murten Classics Festival began early, with guests arriving in numbers at the Kultur im Beaulieu (KiB) concert hall in Murten in time for the opening speech by the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret...read more

“You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video

When we visited him in his studio in January 2018, the long-term SUISA member Marc Sway allowed us a peek into his creative activities and his professional life as a musician. Mid-October 2018, his single “Beat of My Heart” was released as the precursor for his next album whose creation process was one of the main subjects in the video interview. Text and Video by Sibylle Roth

Marc Sway has been a SUISA member since 2003. After his recently intensive period of performing live, he is even more excited when it comes to recording his next album. His last album, “Black & White”, was released in 2014.

Songs for the coming album have been created over the last three years jointly with his long-term partner lyricists and musicians. “If you make music together you are together so many times and at such close proximity that you only want to do that with really good friends”, Marc Sway says. “That’s why I have been collaborating with the same songwriter partners for years.”

During our conversation, the 39-year-old states that songwriting has an enormously big influence on what an album is going to sound like; after all he creates the foundation to it with his compositions. Marc Sway further explains that he likes to have an objective and a concept in mind, and he is convinced that “each album is a chance to reinvent yourself”.

The single “Beat of My Heart” will be released in mid-October 2018, the new album “Way Back Home” will be published in spring 2019.

www.marcsway.ch, Marc Sway website

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When we visited him in his studio in January 2018, the long-term SUISA member Marc Sway allowed us a peek into his creative activities and his professional life as a musician. Mid-October 2018, his single “Beat of My Heart” was released as the precursor for his next album whose creation process was one of the main subjects in the video interview. Text and Video by Sibylle Roth

Marc Sway has been a SUISA member since 2003. After his recently intensive period of performing live, he is even more excited when it comes to recording his next album. His last album, “Black & White”, was released in 2014.

Songs for the coming album have been created over the last three years jointly with his long-term partner lyricists and musicians. “If you make music together...read more

Archipel Festival: Rendez-vous with contemporary music

Now for the 26th time, the Archipel Festival offers an opportunity for a rendez-vous with contemporary music creation between 24 March and 02 April 2017. For the first time, SUISA will be involved in the Archipel Festival this year. With SUISA’s support, an info day for young music creators will be held on 01 April 2017, as well as a public talk session with composers. More in the interview with festival director Marc Texier which has been carried out in writing. Text/interview by Manu Leuenberger

Archipel Festival: Rendez-vous with contemporary music

“The Archipel Festival has a twofold mission: Its aim is to seek out young artists and present contemporary music in all of its forms”, writes Marc Texier, Director of the Geneva Archipel Festival. (Photo: Festival Archipel / Isabelle Meister)

Marc Texier, the 26th occurrence of the Archipel Festival between 24 March and 02 April 2017 in Geneva will be held under the motto “ensemble”. What’s behind this slogan?
Marc Texier: Under the motto “ensemble”, Archipel 2017 celebrates the important art of joint creation, which would be nice if we could see it transferred to other communities and which is extensively practised by the young musicians’ generation. We would like to offer it a broad concert platform.

What is the greater motivation when it comes to organising a festival: The desire to provide contemporary composers and artists with a shop window or to entice a wider audience for New Music?
The festival has a twofold mission: Its aim is to seek out young artists and to make the transition from university to work life easier. Its intention is also to present contemporary music in all of its forms and to pave the way to New Music for a big audience. The festival follows a dramaturgic script and provides the platform for the sound of living material of an art form which is reinventing itself.

Works of contemporary composers are often doomed to a life in the shadows when it comes to the programmes of traditional concert halls. Why is it that people prefer to perform Bach rather than New Music?
If only it was Bach; but it’s usually rather Tchaikovsky. That’s a question you should ask the representatives of orchestras and concert halls. Where does this strong restraint vis-a-vis contemporary music creation come from? It’s not always dictated by the audience, as they are curious, how I could determine time and again. It’s the structures, orchestras, opera houses, radios which hold on to music which dominated the time of its creation in the 19th and 20th century. What people forget is that the music back then was the most important carrier of modern times. We’re facing a museum-like approach rather than the joy of discovery. Thank God, however, there are exceptions.

Under the auspices of the Académie Archipel Ose! which takes place for the first time and is run by Kaija Saariaho and Daniel Kawka, 6 young composers may take a one-week course in symphonic composition for the first time. What’s the point of an education when there are no more rules and everything is allowed in music nowadays?
Edgar Varèse, one of the ‘fathers’ of New Music, wanted to reduce the rules (grammar) and only follow the (mainly acoustic) laws. Here we are now. There are basically no more rules, just what you need to channel your own imagination. What still applies are the physical laws of sound, its source and how it spreads. There are thousands of techniques to construct a work, to dominate its form, the musical discourse. And finally, computer science also belongs to the pragmatic and necessary instruments of music composition. Once all of that has been acquired, the most substantial factor comes along: to find your own voice, to create something of your own. Colleges, where people of the most diverse backgrounds and varied careers get together, are a help to achieve this: Once the young musicians have learned about the “laws” at the conservatoire, they discover their own “self” when meeting other composers of their generation.

What kind of challenges does a budding Swiss composer master so that his works gain international recognition?
The same as a Frenchman or a Korean woman. Since the wall came down, and many countries have gained access to relative wealth, music creation has been heavily internationalised. The candidates for the Académie Archipel Ose! came from no less than 30 countries on five continents. They are expected to bring along a solid theoretical and practical basic knowledge, imagination and originality, since they travel from academy to academy around the world in order to complete their education and to be able to gain international recognition.

On Saturday, 01 April 2017, a “Journée d’orientation professionnelle” for young composers and artists will be held, co-produced with SUISA. Access to this event in ‘L’Abri’ is free of charge. What does this event have in store for a young music creator?
As newcomers, we have all had the unsettling experience that there is a gap between our career ambitions and professional reality. We cannot change that altogether, but we can help young musician, composers and artists to get to know the environment in which they will be active. This includes administrative, legal, technical and human constraints which they are subjected to when they perform their music for which they were specifically trained. Musical professions – ranging from music critic to publishers of music score and from orchestra musician to creators of sound – have been fundamentally changed as a consequence of the computerisation of music creation, the dematerialisation of carriers, the disappearance of boundaries between the art forms, and the replacement of traditional dissemination channels such as TV, radio and print media by social networks. Experts that have been invited to attend this event will be addressing these issues.

How about yourself: What kind of events from this year’s festival programme are you not going to miss under any circumstance?
I will, of course, attend them all, and can therefore not really answer this question. As a connoisseur of New Music, I would not wish to miss out on the creations of our four most important contemporary composers: Murail, Kyburz, Gervasoni and Blank, in the course of the concert of the Lemanic Modern Ensemble on 01 April. If I wanted to have an introduction to contemporary music unknown to me, and wanted to be able to ask various artists questions in a pleasant atmosphere, I wouldn’t want to miss the afternoon of 2 April to the ‘salons de musique’, which are dedicated to the contrabass clarinet and the drums.

www.archipel.org, festival website

“Journée d’orientation professionnelle”
I am a young composer and at the beginning of my career. Where can I complete my education and training? At which academy? How do I introduce myself? I have founded an ensemble: How do I get it to become well-known, how do I develop and run it? Do I have to register with a collective management organisation? What’s better: paper or ‘dematerialised’ editions? Can I upload my music on the internet for free? Where can I work in an multidisciplinary manner? Where do I distribute my work? These and many more questions are what young artists are asking themselves at the beginning of their careers. We attempt to answer them in the course of meetings with lawyers, publishers, teachers and music producers. The event is under the auspices of SUISA and intended to facilitate the career entry for young musicians. It is open to everyone. (Text: Archipel Festival)
Saturday, 01 April 2017 at the ‘L’Abri – A2’, free admission
10:00-10:10 Welcome speech by Bernard Meier – President of the Archipel Association responsible for the workshops of the music conservatoire HEM
10:10-10:30 Nicolas Pont – Head of SUISA Legal Services
10:30-10:50 David Johnson – responsible for Swissperform’s branch office in the French-speaking part of Switzerland
10:50-11:10 Johannes Knapp – Director of the STV/ASM
11:20-11:40 Damien Pousset – Founder of the Aeon label
11:40-12:00 Andri Hardmeier – Head of the Music Division of Pro Helvetia
12:00-12:20 François Passard (Director) and Alain Renaud (Manager of the production studio) of the ‘L’Abri’
Break
13:30-13:50 Marc Texier – Archipel Director
13:50-14:10 Daniel Zea – Composer and founding member of the Ensemble Vortex
14:10-14:30 Tzairi Santos Garcia – responsible for the digital development at Outhere Music
14:30-14:50 Lucas Fagin – Composer and co-director of Babelscores
15:00-15:20 Bruno Serrou – Music critic
15:20-15:40 Marie-Christine Papillon – Director of Papillon Publishing
15:40-16.00 Conclusion/Debrief
Conversations with composers
With Hanspeter Kyburz, Stefano Gervasoni, William Blank, Tristan Murail, Xavier Dayer. Presented by Marc Texier.

Saturday, 01 April 2017, 20.00 hrs
Alhambra, free admission

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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.

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Now for the 26th time, the Archipel Festival offers an opportunity for a rendez-vous with contemporary music creation between 24 March and 02 April 2017. For the first time, SUISA will be involved in the Archipel Festival this year. With SUISA’s support, an info day for young music creators will be held on 01 April 2017, as well as a public talk session with composers. More in the interview with festival director Marc Texier which has been carried out in writing. Text/interview by Manu Leuenberger

Archipel Festival: Rendez-vous with contemporary music

“The Archipel Festival has a twofold mission: Its aim is to seek out young artists and present contemporary music in all of its forms”, writes Marc Texier, Director of the Geneva Archipel Festival. (Photo: Festival Archipel / Isabelle Meister)

Marc Texier, the 26th occurrence of the Archipel Festival...read more

Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes – if it has success”

The FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. But what makes a song text a success? Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with Jean-Martin Büttner

Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes - if it has success”

“Song texts usually don’t work on paper”, says journalist Jean-Martin Büttner. (Photo: Dominic Büttner)

Jean-Martin, what do you make of song lyrics including the line “A Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom”?
Jean-Martin Büttner: This is an example for coded song lyrics. “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard secretly deals with black drag queens and sexual practices, at least in its 1955 original version. To understand this, you got to know that the singer had a triple disadvantage: Richard was black, gay and from the South of the USA. The American political scientist, Greil Marcus, explained its amazing effect rather accurately in an interview. Even if they did not understand the lyrics, listeners would still be able to sense from the mere joy of Little Richard’s singing that it was about something naughty. It might sound strange but this is a central part of rock music – not because it says something but because it expresses something.

In its book “AWopBopaLooBopALopBamBoom” which had become a classic in rock literature, Nik Cohn wrote in 1971 that these words “summarised what Rock’n’Roll really was about” rather masterly. He also wrote that Rock’n’Roll lyrics were some sort of a “secret code of teenagers”. Youth culture is, however, subject to constant change. Does this mean that these lyrics are caught in their era?
I believe that this applies to each set of song lyrics and also for many poems. Only the greats such as Shakespeare, Rilke or Dylan can write lyrics which transcend their own era. These lyrics by Little Richard are clearly trapped in its time, albeit because it had to be coded into nonsense in order to escape the censorship of white radio stations. Ironically, this also holds true for explicit, vulgar and drastic hip hop lyrics which don’t omit anything. Calling women champagne bitches and writing hymns about your own sneakers wears off extremely quickly.

What significance has this song text by Little Richard retained?
“Tutti Frutti” is a historic text. But you also have to understand that Nik Cohn had an anti-intellectual attitude vis-a-vis the interpretation of Rock’n’Roll. And that his book was one of the first on rock music. I still love it today because he wrote in such a radical style. Nik Cohn, who was an Irish Jew and thus an outsider from the beginning, wrote sentences such as those according to which there were never proper lyrics in Rock’n’Roll. I believe that he meant this as a provocation but not just that. It was his way of attacking artists such as Dylan or the Beatles which, in his opinion, had ruined Rock’n’Roll with their textual cockiness.

Is the act of ennobling the song lyrics by the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan thus also a loss for the tradition of lyrics that have been pushed “ad absurdum”?
Not at all, luckily there is no institution that decides what is or isn’t a proper song text. Besides, Dylan himself has written surreal lyrics, which might well play on words and are funny but don’t really make any comprehensible sense, such as “Subterranean Homesick Blues” from 1965. In this song, Dylan – who never actually denied it – leans back on Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” – which is not far from Little Richard; Dylan was thus closer to Nik Cohn’s hero as the latter wanted to admit. Dylan even once said that his professional goal was to play piano with Little Richard.

“Poetry is always a vocal art, too. Poets recited their texts as early as in ancient times.”

Nevertheless: Haven’t song lyrics increasingly lost their original character?
Yes, the question for the meaning. I have always rejected the absurd notion that rock music had to remain music for the youth, something it had originally been. It has rather turned out to be a kind of culture which grows with its authors, has aged with them. Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen are or have been relevant way beyond their pension age. Besides, poetry is always a vocal art, too. Poets recited their texts as early as in ancient times.

Little Richard has – not least – provoked, something that has become difficult nowadays …
This gesture has lost its impact long ago. Lady Gaga is a good example as her provocations became such a major part of her marketing. Her final provocation, to show herself without make-up, shows how desperate she has become. Nowadays, it is rather heart-warming that David Bowie triggered a scandal when he said he was homosexual – and it wasn’t even true. Such shock effects, from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson, have worn themselves out completely. The consolation: Good music remains good.

In rock music, the lyrics depend very much on other aspects such as sound or phrasing, and only makes sense because of that. Do lyrics still have the same meaning as they used to have back then?
I don’t cease to be amazed how little attention people pay to the lyrics. It probably has always been that way. In fact, the Beatles mainly wrote trivial lyrics along the lines of “She Loves You”, even though their irony and their lyrical talent would have allowed them to do so much more at the time. It is interesting that especially within the hip hop genre lyrics play a central role, while the music is monotonous and repetitive. What also stands out is the development over the last decades where hip hop is no longer sung or rapped just in English, but, in Switzerland, for example, increasingly in German, Italian and French. In line with this development, it is only logical that the importance of lyrics has increased again. For example Peter Fox (Seeed): His solo album “Stadtaffe” [city monkey] is a hymn dedicated to his home town Berlin – and only because of the German lyrics, Berlin citizens could identify themselves with the song.

“Lyrics aren’t a school subject. It should be left to each individual what they make of the song lyrics.”

This example also shows that the background of a text is sometimes the prerequisite to understand it. But can an author really expect from his audience that it grapples with its song lyrics?
Lyrics aren’t a school subject. It should be left to each individual what they make of the song lyrics. A friend of mine has been a hip hop dance instructor for a long time. She did not realise that the pieces she used often contained misogynist lyrics, as she only played them to provide music for dancing. But that’s ok.
On the other hand, I keep noticing during concerts that due to the lack of knowledge of the lyrics misunderstandings pop up. A classic example which even US-Americans misunderstood is “Born In the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. The piece deals with the fate of Vietnam veterans but is full of ambivalence as it starts with a fanfare and Springsteen is shown on the cover of the album in front of a US flag. Left-wing message, right-wing chorus. Reagan only heard the latter and was enthused, Springsteen distanced himself in a peculiar mumbling manner. The record made him a millionaire.

But doesn’t something from the original message stay on?
Greil Marcus, whom we mentioned earlier, described in his essay why everything that Springsteen sings remains without any consequence. Irrespective of how often the artist sings about a broken family and the poverty in the USA, it was striking that nobody ever responded. This silence was proof that all of his statements remained without effect. How could it be otherwise? I have asked the comedian Eddie Izzard, whether comedy could actually change anything. He said: only politics changes things, that’s why he was standing for Parliament. If you want to change something, you have to change the law.

Writers of song lyrics often say that – by way of their texts – they are trying to trigger an association within their audience so that they can create their own stories from that…
An important role during the 1960s was the fact that black youths listened to James Brown who sang: “Say it loud – I’m black and I’m proud”. That was an instruction to a black identity – telling you that you could be someone who exists, who is important in the USA, because you get a voice – even if you are part of a minority.

He gave people courage to stand tall and self-confident…
Exactly, many song lyrics played an important role for the civil rights movement. Songs have always played an influencing role, also during the movement against the Vietnam War. Why, of all things, was it “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys that became a hymn for the GIs in Vietnam, even though this cover version only contains the story of a quarrel on a ship? Because the chorus says: “Why don’t they let me go home, this is the worst trip I’ve ever been on”. No wonder that this hit the right tone in Vietnam. Or: “Nowhere To Run” by Martha and the Vandellas was phrased as a love song, but became the slogan for left-wing protesters against the government.

A text can also receive a completely new meaning…
An example for this is the piece “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, which has been redefined in South Africa among white and black pupils as a hymn against Apartheid. German cultural scientist, Diedrich Diederichsen once said, pop music was an open channel. The good thing about it: You can do what you like. If the audience decides that a song means this or that, then that’s the way it is.

“One of the most famous examples of a song which didn’t have any meaningful, serious lyrics initially, is ‘Yesterday’ by Paul McCartney. The original text for this song was ‘scrambled eggs, baby I love your hairy legs’.”

Many musicians have expressed themselves against Donald Trump in the last months, but up until his inauguration there were few explicit songs…
The English journalist, Julie Burchill, once wrote that nothing would castrate a political message as efficiently as a pulsing backbeat. Bob Dylan realised this quickly and ceased to create songs pointing fingers, he was well ahead with his thinking. His explicitly political songs such as “Now Ain’t The Time For Your Tears” have aged in a worse manner than his songs which simply state a general unease against the war such as “Masters of War”. I think that great artists don’t think in weeks or years, and that’s why all great political songs are not specific. Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a universal song, especially as humour and irony are added to it – something that protest musicians unfortunately include very rarely.

Many songwriters confess that their lyrics don’t get written until after the music has been completed. How do you explain that?
One of the most famous examples of a song which didn’t have any meaningful, serious lyrics initially, is “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney. The original text for this song was “scrambled eggs, baby I love your hairy legs”. Brian Eno mentioned during his press conference in Geneva last year that the majority of artists sing anything during their rehearsals, some sort of a scat song. From this emerges a chorus or a hook, from which the actual lyrics are developed. Many musicians use this process, for example Bono, or Mick Jagger. Writing lyrics, by the way, is also hard for authors, who are famous for their texts. Randy Newman for one said to me in a conversation that he wrote melodies with more ease than lyrics – the latter were a nightmare.

But aren’t song lyrics often secondary, and only have the purpose to carry the melody?
This can be deceptive as the example of ABBA shows. You could, of course, argue that “I do, I do, I do, I do” does not constitute song lyrics which belong into the Hall of Fame. But “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is a piece which sweetens a bitter message with an enchanting melody. The lyrics are about a divorce and is one of the favourite songs of Elvis Costello. “The Day Before You Came”, the last, desperately sad ABBA single, also combines an excellent set of lyrics with an extremely sad musical piece.

As we all know, many song texts pop up by chance, on the spur of the moment …
The most famous example for a song which practically happened by accident is “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple. To put it simply, the band was watching across the lake, how the casino in Montreux was on fire – and wrote a gripping, but actually rather descriptive song about the event in the blink of an eye. Bob Dylan sometimes falls into such a creative rush, too: He wrote all of his lyrics for “Time Out Of Mind” within two weeks even though the verses are rather long.

This is more the modus operandi of singer songwriters who reduce the story down to the bare minimum. You do, however, sometimes also find the other extreme with them, where the lyrics are basically simply wrapped in music….
You notice that when the lyrics overwhelms the music in such a way that the music becomes a pretext. In the case of a good songwriter like Dylan that’s another matter. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, for example, formulates a cascade of words – and still works because the language becomes an instrument of rhythm. The Beatles-Song penned by John Lennon “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is the opposite of that: Despite its length of nearly eight minutes, it consists of one single sentence with variations. This shows how much freedom you have as a lyricist. There’s a great quotation by Max Frisch: “Anything goes – if it has success”.

«You must stop imagining that lyrics can be read: they don’t usually work on paper, they are dead.»

This could be used as the guideline for song lyrics about love, still the main theme in pop music. A love song can appear clichéd with respect to the choice of words, and yet work magnificently. What makes the difference?
An example how the same text can have a completely different impact depending on instrumentation and interpretation is “I Will Always Love You”. The song has not been written by Whitney Houston but Dolly Parton. And her original version dating back to 1974 is grand, even though the lyrics are incredibly trivial: The recording lives off the performance.

The same song lyrics can also have different meanings in different interpretations…
A good example for this is “You Can Leave Your Hat On” by Randy Newman. In its original version, this love song is lurking, the protagonist a stalker, you get scared of him. In Joe Cocker’s version, however, the song about a sexual offender turns into a hymn for sex and freedom – and as such, it was used for the film “9 1/2 weeks.”

The lyrics of two love songs can be nearly identical regarding the choice of words and yet one can seem corny whereas the other is captivating. Why?
You must stop imagining that lyrics can be read: they don’t usually work on paper, they are dead. One of the reasons for this is that the technique of repetition is important for song lyrics; texts by writers like Nick Cave look absurd on paper.
One of the great exceptions, however, are the song texts by Leonard Cohen. An explanation for this phenomenon is that he wrote three books and two poetry volumes before he entered a studio for the first time. He started playing the guitar because he thought he could reach a wider audience as a consequence. The magic of song lyrics usually appears when being sung, just remember Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike”. His singing imparted a kind of lascivious elegance.

By way of singing the lyrics, it is also possible to break the stereotype of a text or add an ironic note …
Lyle Lovett does exactly the opposite in his song “She’s Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To”. The text in the title is coined by its typical irony but he sang it in a grizzling, absolutely non-ironical sounding country song. What constitutes the breach here is that he performs an unconventional text which is a persiflage on the genre, in a completely conventional style.

The songwriter and producer Roman Camenzind once said that you could write an authentic song text only in your own mother tongue ...
That’s a great thesis, even if there are examples that show that the opposite is true. In the case of Rammstein, I am fascinated by the fact that concert-goers sing along to the German lyrics, even in places like Mexico City or New York. Singer Till Lindemann once told me that the majority would only sing along phonetically and not understand the phonetic implications and play on words of “Du hast” – one of their song titles. English is treacherous in this respect, anyway. It’s like when you play the guitar: You can quickly get to grips with guitar chords, and it sounds alright. But then it gets complicated rather quickly. And that’s what you find in the case of lyrics of authors whose mother tongue isn’t English.

And in Switzerland?
We do have some amazing lyricists such as the songwriters Kutti MC, Endo Anaconda (Stiller Has), Kuno Lauener (Züri West) and Carlos Leal (Sens Unik); The reality in Switzerland is, however, that the dialect is rather restrictive in terms of the audience; the conditions in Germany are completely different.

If you want to live off your music in Switzerland you have to try to find a wider audience with an international language. Is this inevitably at the expense of authenticity?
Yello are a good example that using English can be a success. Dieter Meier has written many lyrics with Dadaistic nonsense, but his English is – regarding the accent and the humour – definitely very Swiss. You also feel how the personalities of the two shine through very strongly, something which creates authenticity. In a special way, the Young Gods are successful because Franz Treichler sings his English lyrics with a French accent; but it is his voice that’s important, not the lyrics. For me, these are the two most important Swiss bands because they have maintained their identity despite their international aura. Bands that sing French lyrics such as Sens Unik have more luck as they have an international language as their mother tongue.

Jean-Martin Büttner (born 1959) grew up bilingual in Basel (German and French). He studied psychology, psychopathology and English in Zurich and wrote his dissertation on “Singers, songs and compulsive words. Rock as a narrative form.” (the book with the original title “Sänger, Songs und triebhafte Rede. Rock als Erzählweise”, published in 1997 is sold out). In the middle of the 1980s, he regularly wrote for the Swiss music magazine Music Scene which was run by the interviewer Markus Ganz at the time. Since 1987, he has been employed by the Swiss daily, Tages-Anzeiger. He works as an editor for the cultural and domestic affairs department and is the daily’s correspondent for the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and Switzerland’s Parliament (Bundeshaus) editor. Since 2010, he has been writing on various subjects, including regular articles on music.
Recognition award for lyricists
FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. Works in all languages will be considered. The entire works of the nominees will be judged, not just individual lyrics. All participants must prove that there is a relationship of their works with the current Swiss music creative scene. It is also possible that third parties nominate candidates. An expert panel will judge the submitted nominations based on the Award regulations. Closing date will be 24 February 2017. Further information, including the regulations and the entry form can be downloaded from the FONDATION SUISA website.
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Traditional folk music as a basis for more complex compositions The composer and accordion player Franz «Fränggi» Gehrig receives the FONDATION SUISA Award 2016. The annual recognition award granted by SUISA’s music promotion foundation will be awarded in 2016 in the category “new, current Swiss folk music”. An interview with the 30-year-old award winner from canton Uri on the prize, his musical work and the attraction of old and new traditional folk music. Read more
“Nothing, nothing at all beats a well-written song” The international success with Bonaparte is the current highlight of the long-term songwriter career of Tobias Jundt. He penned several hundred titles, spanning a wide stylistic variety, even for or together with other artists. Born in Berne, and now living in Berlin, the composer passes on his knowledge and experience as a guest lecturer at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (Zurich University of the Arts) in the subject “songwriting”. An interview with the SUISA member who has been nominated for the Grand Prix Musik in 2016 and performs with his new formation, Mule & Man, at the Festival Label Suisse in Lausanne. Read more
Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm FONDATION SUISA grants Heiri Känzig its Jazz Award 2016. The musician from Zurich is regarded as one of the most prominent double base players in Europe. He is less known as a distinguished composer. Heiri Känzig is probably more known to the international jazz scene than the Swiss public. The double bass player has never sought out the attention of the broad masses, but managed to convince with humble musical talent. Read more
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The FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. But what makes a song text a success? Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with Jean-Martin Büttner

Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes - if it has success”

“Song texts usually don’t work on paper”, says journalist Jean-Martin Büttner. (Photo: Dominic Büttner)

Jean-Martin, what do you make of song lyrics including the line “A Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom”?
Jean-Martin Büttner: This is an example for coded song lyrics. “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard secretly deals with black drag queens and sexual practices, at least in its 1955 original version. To understand this, you got to know that the singer had a triple disadvantage: Richard was black, gay and from the South of the USA. The American political scientist, Greil Marcus, explained its amazing...read more

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

The preliminary draft by the Swiss Federal Council for a review of the Swiss Copyright Act was not able to carry a majority during the consultation. The Federal Councillor in charge, Simonetta Sommaruga, has therefore called upon a working group again. AGUR12 II is asked to work out specific legislative proposals alongside the compromise that had been achieved by AGUR12 and been in place for more than 2 years. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

Back to square 1: The working group for copyright convenes again. Specific legislative proposals for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act are expected to be tabled by the end of 2016. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the leading countries involved in the process to anchor copyright for authors at international level. The Berne Convention of 1879 was the first international Treaty on copyright. Today, nothing is left of the pioneering role Switzerland once held.

Quite the contrary: The existing Swiss copyright law was enacted after 30-year-long discussions upon the pressure by the USA on 01 July 1993. Important trade agreements with the USA would otherwise not have been possible to implement. A similar situation occurred during the partial review of the Act in 2006.

An adaptation of the copyright law to technological developments is now due. The European Union has also been holding discussions on this topic for a while. On 14 September 2016, the European Commission has tabled a proposal for a directive on copyright in the digital single market. In the EC directive, current problems such as “liability of internet service providers” were addressed at least.

Review of the Swiss Copyright Act 2011 launched

In Switzerland, the progress made by the review of the Copyright Act and the alignment of the legislative provisions to the current exploitation forms in the digital world has been rather sluggish. To recap: The trigger for the current conversations on an update of the Swiss Copyright Act had been the reply by the Federal Council in August 2011 to a Postulate by the Ständerätin (Councillor for the Council of Cantons) Géraldine Savary.

At the time, the Federal Council was of the opinion that Existing legal provisions would satisfy current options for digital usage. Authors would have to exploit the existing legal possibilities more thoroughly and equalise their lost income from internet piracy by other means: for example by giving more live concerts, in order to offset the lower income from sales of sound recordings.

This type of reply led to an outcry among the rightsholders. Known authors and musicians, specifically from the rock/pop sector, joined forces under the umbrella of the powerful association “Music Creators Switzerland”. The producer associations Audiovision Schweiz and IFPI founded the “Alliance against internet piracy”, together with the collective management organisations and other partners.

The AGUR12 Compromise

Federal Councillor Sommaruga finally gave in to the concerted demands for measures to be taken: In the summer of 2012, she initiated the working group copyright 2012. The “AGUR12” had the following task: “Show options to align copyright law with the technological developments. These include identifying and remedying of usage limitations and competitive barriers, guaranteeing a fair and adequate remuneration for the usage of content protected by copyright and the fight against piracy. On the other hand, collective management must be evaluated in terms of identifying areas for increasing efficiency and lowering costs.”

At the end of 2013, AGUR12 closed their project with recommendations which were carried by all participants. One could thus call it an “AGUR12 compromise”. The demand for implementing the recommendations remained an evident topic for the Federal Council: Subsequently, various circles submitted proposals to the parliament which were answered by the Federal Council referring to the impending legal review and thus postponed to a later date.

Preliminary draft and consultation

In December 2015, the Federal Council presented a preliminary draft for the legal review, which entered the consultation process until the end of March 2016. What was particularly bothersome with this preliminary draft was the fact that while it followed the recommendations of AGUR12, further proposals from administration itself had been added; for example, a more extensive and stricter supervision over collective management organisations. SUISA replied with an extensive statement and provided specific wordings for improving the legislative text.

More than 1,200 statements and opinions were submitted during the consultation process. Those from libraries and archives (about 400) all have the same message. They demand simple possibilities to make their archives accessible. When it comes to rights exploitation issues, they blame the collective management organisations for any difficulties that arise in this context. It is, however, the latter who enable certain usages by bundling rights together.

AGUR12 II initiated

The Federal Councillor in charge had to realise this summer that the consultation draft was coming under fire from all corners and was still far away from a solution carried by the majority. She therefore wishes to offer the affected parties to find a solution that can be carried before the Federal Council can decide on the next steps in the legislative process.

On 30 August 2016, Federal Councillor Sommaruga thus initiated the working group AGUR12 II. The working group has now got additional stakeholders, representing the interests of internet providers and experts from the Federal Office for Justice. AGUR12 II is thus tasked with working out specific legislative proposals in line with the compromises determined by AGUR12, which have been in place for more than 2 years now.

The new AGUR12II has, in the meantime, started with its activities. In the first meeting, it became apparent that the members deal with the different interests and positions in a focussed and constructive manner. As a consequence, further sub-groups were created with the aim to prepare specific legislative proposals in a smaller but representative circle. The results are expected to be ready by the end of 2016.

Legal review thrown back by 30 months

Collective management organisations are active on behalf of authors within the AGUR12 II working group. Their representatives hold the necessary legal knowledge in order to formulate legislative provisions. A modernised copyright with fair framework conditions for rightsholders is one of the core aims of the Cooperative Society for Authors and Publishers of Music: SUISA readily offers its expert knowledge and collaborates actively in the working group.

By initiating the AGUR12 II working group, the copyright legislation review in Switzerland has been set back by 30 months. Back to square 1, where AGUR12 finished with its recommendations at the end of 2013. One can’t help but get the impression that the government’s ideas on trade and agricultural policies are clearer than those on copyright. That is a real shame, even more so when Switzerland, as a veritable nation of culture, once excelled as a pioneer of the rights for the protection of authors.

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Copyright: Quo vadis? In December 2015, the Federal Council presented the draft for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act. At the same time, the consultation started, which is open until March 2016. SUISA supports the proposed measures inasmuch as they have been taken from the compromise agreement reached by the working group on copyright (AGUR12). SUISA has been contributing to said working group which had been summoned by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in 2012, consisting of affected parties. Read more
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The preliminary draft by the Swiss Federal Council for a review of the Swiss Copyright Act was not able to carry a majority during the consultation. The Federal Councillor in charge, Simonetta Sommaruga, has therefore called upon a working group again. AGUR12 II is asked to work out specific legislative proposals alongside the compromise that had been achieved by AGUR12 and been in place for more than 2 years. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

Back to square 1: The working group for copyright convenes again. Specific legislative proposals for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act are expected to be tabled by the end of 2016. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the leading countries involved in the process to anchor copyright for authors at international level. The Berne...read more

Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm

FONDATION SUISA grants Heiri Känzig its Jazz Award 2016. The musician from Zurich is regarded as one of the most prominent double base players in Europe. He is less known as a distinguished composer. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm

“The richness of his variations and his dexterity make him a virtuoso of his instrument”, FONDATION SUISA writes about this year’s winner, Heiri Känzig, in its press release in connection with the Jazz Award. (Photo: Pablo Faccinetto)

Heiri Känzig is probably more known to the international jazz scene than the Swiss public. The double bass player has never sought out the attention of the broad masses, but managed to convince with humble musical talent. Born in Zurich in 1957, he moved abroad while still young because of music, and lived in cities such as Vienna, Munich and Paris. Heiri Känzig smiles during our conversation when he recalls how Mathias Rüegg had encouraged him to break off secondary school (Gymnasium) in Schiers and to study at the music conservatory in Graz. He later on followed the co-founder of the Vienna Art Orchestra to Vienna, which would become his own springboard into the international jazz scene.

Vienna as a starting point

From 1977 onwards, Heiri Känzig was a member of the Vienna Art Orchestra for 15 years, and already performed on their debut, the single (!) “Jessas na” (1978): “A crazy record”. He thus became part of an innovative scene and obviously gained a good reputation as a double bass player quickly. After all, he became a supporting act for the Bebop trumpeter Art Farmer as early as 1978. Since then, Heiri Känzig has played with numerous big names in jazz such as Art Lande, Kenny Wheeler, Lauren Newton, Billy Cobham and Ralph Towner; he was particularly close to Charlie Mariano. It is also unusual that he became a member of the “Orchestre National de Jazz” as the first non-French national in 1991.

Heiri Känzig insists that he does not just regard himself as a jazz musician: “I like to play different kinds of music.” He showed this, for example, with the “Tienn Shan Schweiz Express” (with musicians from Kirgistan, Khakassia, Mongolia, Switzerland and Austria) or a project with the Algerian Oud player Chaouk Smahi. Furthermore, he was a studio musician for artists like Nena and Andreas Vollenweider. What really amazes is the fact that Heiri Känzig who is usually known as a live musician, has been playing on 130 albums based on his biography. He plays down the fact that there are more in the meantime, and clarifies that at least thirty alone stem from the Vienna Art Orchestra.

Underestimated composer

One constant factor in Heiri Känzig’s career has been the cooperation with Thierry Lang, which had begun before his contract with the legendary Blue Note Records label. For about 25 years, he has been playing with the pianist from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, usually in a trio, but sometimes with guest musicians, and currently even with a string quartet. He also increasingly contributes to compositions. As a co-leader, Heiri Känzig currently works mainly with the jazz ‘institution’ Chico Freeman as a duo, and in the “4-tet” with the “Cholet Kaenzig Papaux Trio”, and with Depart, a trio founded in 1985 with Harry Sokal, which now has Martin Valihora as its drummer.

On the suspense-packed last Depart album “Refire” (2014), the majority of works were written by Heiri Känzig. He is still often described as a “versatile accompanier” or similarly. “As a bass player you are usually not the front man as it is more often the case for trumpeters or pianists”, he says and is relaxed about it. “The bass is primarily an accompanying instrument, and a low one at that, which is not perceived as easily from an acoustic point of view than other instruments.” Heiri Känzig also confirms that the bass has the function to connect the different types of instruments. He adds, laughing: “Bassists are, in a way, the diplomats among musicians, mediating between melody, harmony and rhythm; that’s why we probably are such conciliatory people …”.

Virtuosity and sound

When he composes, he does not worry about the function of the bass, but often just starts playing, usually on the piano. “At the beginning of a composition are bass lines, which I find by playing and which inspire me. These are rhythmic approaches, whereas I fathom the harmonious aspect with the piano.” These are two fundamentally different approaches, and yet the further development of the pieces bear a communality. Composing is always a very exciting process because you never know where it will lead you. You don’t have a clue, and yet something always tells you where to go through next.”

Media reports continue to praise the virtuosity of Heiri Känzig. “And of course you can tell yourself that it doesn’t make sense at all in the case of a bass because the low tones are hardly audible anyway”, he adds and shrugs. “But I add colour to the music by doing so, sometimes even a sound thunderstorm.” This contributes to the fact that his performance has a very individual and unique note. Heiri Känzig can, however, not quite explain this himself. “Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have hardly ever copied anything”.

Heiri Känzig was born in 1957 and grew up in Zurich and Weiningen. He studied music in Graz, Vienna and Zurich. Since 1990, he has been living in Meilen and been a lecturer for double bass at the University for Music in Lucerne since 2002. The singer-songwriter Anna Känzig is his niece; a joint performance is planned for May 2017. – The Jazz Award 2016, worth CHF 15,000 is presented to Heiri Känzig in the course of a special matinée concert on Sunday, 4 December 2016 at 11 am in Moods Zurich. Heiri Känzig will perform together with Chico Freeman and Thierry Lang first in a duo each, then in a trio.
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FONDATION SUISA grants Heiri Känzig its Jazz Award 2016. The musician from Zurich is regarded as one of the most prominent double base players in Europe. He is less known as a distinguished composer. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm

“The richness of his variations and his dexterity make him a virtuoso of his instrument”, FONDATION SUISA writes about this year’s winner, Heiri Känzig, in its press release in connection with the Jazz Award. (Photo: Pablo Faccinetto)

Heiri Känzig is probably more known to the international jazz scene than the Swiss public. The double bass player has never sought out the attention of the broad masses, but managed to convince with humble musical talent. Born in Zurich in 1957, he moved abroad while still young because of music, and lived in cities such as...read more