Peter Uhr


(a chronometer & a traveller’s guide)

The very tangible starting-point has been a grand piano which was set on fire. Its strings became the constituents for a cast ”tone bowl”. FIRE SYMPHONY can be related as non-music, a breath beyond the tone mass of the Western World with a structure ending after two hours with a raw toll from the ”tone bowl”. This bowl may for example represent a contemporary form of Plato’s ”Spherical harmony”. This fire action may initiate a new era in music and acoustic art.

FIRE SYMPHONY is partially a piece of pointillist music with the different parts logically connected to each other telling us a story with sounds, improvisations & fragments collected over many years, trying to create free conditions for contemporary music giving traditional instruments new functions coupled with instruments crafted by the artist’s own hand partly linked to alchemistic and shamanistic tradition. Sometimes the computer has helped to bake the synthesis of primitivism and hightech.

The present is mirrored by the symbiosis between meditations, concept music, ambient music, musique concrète and noise etcetera created in and for an interdisciplinary narrative context. The project can be related to other concepts and ambitions like Mallarmé’s ”Le Livre” and Charles Ives’ ”Universe Symphony” or Walter Benjamin’s ”Das Passagenwerk”..Several of the compositions have been developed as part of an installation cycle (WORKS FROM A FIRE EXPEDITION shown in its entirity at Lunds Konsthall, Lund, Sweden in 2001.) but have been organized and cultivated to become enjoyable as pure audio media. The different pieces are sometimes based on conceptual improvisations but without letting any instrumental skill shine too brightly. Rather a lack of knowledge has been given precedence to create new physical and poetic aspects- a way to imitate the ”story of the creation”,-out of nothingness something comes up in proportion to an autobiographical journey through different technological, concrete & mental geographies from a musical inferno to a paradise chime.

The listener’s/customer’s function is as a suggestion to manage a sonorous hourglass (2x60 min.) and in the divine role of Chronos enhance FIRE SYMPHONY to a societal and never ending context. -Naturally the customers of this specific piece of art are given immortality.

FS 1:

PRELUDE: 3 min.
Grand piano.

MUSIC FOR FIRE: 0,5 min.
An intense groove which can recall the birth of the Cosmos.
Big Bang-Birth Of All Stars-Strings Like Fire Beams.

The strings from the grand piano transformed to a new instrument. In the ”tone bowl” a wooden ball is rotating creating a sound piece for fire & wood. Geological ages meet the organic epoch.

WOOD PIECE: 3 min.
A marimba made of pieces of driftwood has been manouvred so the spontanous bumps are creating an inimitable tonal and rythmic filigree.

Two quick improvisations with a traditional waltz in mind performed by popular Swedish ”pier singer” Kjell Krage’s accordeon player. Played forth and backwards with reduced tape speed a ”tone sea” has emerged. Traditional & populistic culture has been transformed to avant-garde with the accordeonists happy admission. A waltz beyond ingrained opinions.

Two microphones with unshielded cables placed in the open on an island picked the sounds of summer night and passing radiowaves from different parts of the globe driving and drifting on the atmospherical freeway. A provincial, global and cosmic piece of ambient music.

BROA: 3 min.
A ”tone bridge” played on harmonium from the left side of the keyboard in slow progression to the higher register coupled with the sound from strokes of oars and finally the whizzing wind that once drove the wings of the wind mill and the sailing-vessels through the sound of Broa.

FS 2:

Improvisations on grand piano with mallets and palms with an aim to create resonances in a presumed Satie atmosphere. He placed one piano on top of another maybe in order to create new sounds. The opening ring was rythmicized by chance by a watch coming too close to a microphone. The piece is structured with new sound media for an acapella, a whispered oneliner by Rilke.

O.M./COSMIC SONG: 10 min.
A scribble board for voices. The participants dropped a contribution and where suggested to draw a deep breath and sound an O or an M till they had to inhale again. The voices were gathered on a multichannel taperecorder at ”Museum of Work” in Norrköping, Sweden as a commemoration of libraries set on fire. The individual contributions put together created a choral work. The voices and some printers in the recording room did (by chance) build a sacred and monumental piece of music with a touch of ”industry”.

SEA SONG: 33 min.
Recaptured slowness. A remix of a former vinyl audiotrack from late hippie era with promised mental consequences for the listener.

The components of this piece represent different things: The cello was handled so it would sound like a didgeridoo as well imitating the sound sometimes heard when the wind goes through a fishing net. -The ”tone bowl” rings eleven times with a slow accelerating interval every time earth and the galaxies have travelled another 100 million kilometres out in the eternal cosmic sea: That way the symphony is a chronometer which naturally alludes to the composer’s surname. -The eleventh time the”tone bowl” rings raw for the first time and the sound can be locked upon as a transposition of the powerful chime created by all cosmic individual tones from stars and planets but approximately 13 octaves lower than the human ear can catch. The ”tone bowl” cast from grand piano strings may represent the sound mass of the galaxies. Eventually the sound from the cosmic journey of our planet three times faster than the ray of light has been conceptually transposed by a recorded haze blue Volvo 142 on the road through twinkling August night over West Sweden flat lands once upon a time back in 1981.

(P) & (C) Peter Uhr, Göteborg-Stockholm 1999

Firework Edition Records
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