Dr. Christian Scholz
A historical survey of the German sound poetry
Lecture, Bologna, April 14, 1997
In the following I am going to give a short survey of the history of sound poetry, as coming into being in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century. 
Sound poetry is in my definition a poetic art which avoids using the word as a mere vehicle of sense or meaning and tries to compose phonetic poems or sound texts in a methodical autonomy in accordance with modes of expressing subjective intentions, which require an acoustical realization from the side of the poet. 
With good reason sound poets use the term "composition" to characterize their texts indicating the close connection between speech and music. Phonetic poems can develop their special effect only by the musical gesture of expression of the voice - namely loudness (level), sound, tone colour, tone pitch, speed of speech. 
They are not a hybrid of speech and music, they are both speech and music or speech music ("Sprachmusik"). 
Phonetic poems or sound texts are considered as a specific phenomenon of the 20th century; their origin is the Italian and the Russian futurism and later the dadaism between 1910 and 1917. But the first phonetic poems were written by Paul Scheerbart and Christian Morgenstern and published in 1897 respectively in 1905 for the first time. 
slide 1: portrait of Paul Scheerbart 
Scheerbart's phonetic poem Kikakoku is included in the novel Ich liebe dich ("I love you"), in which the I-narrator reads (aloud) the following interesting story: 
slide 2: Paul Scheerbart: Kikakoku! (1897) 
track 1: Paul Scheerbart: Kikakoku! (EXVOCO) 
slide 3: portrait of Christian Morgenstern 
The informality of the cheerful play on words of an artificial speech is also characteristic of Christian Morgenstern's phonetic poem Das große Lalula, the aesthetic attractiveness of which is in the tension between formal stringency and an almost complete absence of any meaning. 
slide 4: Christian Morgenstern: Das große Lalula (1905) 
track 2: Christian Morgenstern: Das große Lalula (EXVOCO) 
Morgenstern's phonetic poem shows still the characteristic features of a traditional stanza poem, but by creating a word material of its own it is beyond the scope of the natural speech. 
The major part of the sequence of sounds shows only little affinity with the German language, but its similarity with sound sequences of nursery rhymes and things like that. So the "great Lalula" evokes cheerfulness and perhaps an amused smiling. 
Morgenstern's and Scheerbart's phonetic poems refer to texts of the 17th, 18th and 19th century, which show structural similarities with phonetic poems. 
On the occasion of my short lecture I should only like to point to these first elements of sound poetry: 
children's language, counting rhymes, spoonerism, tongue twisters, spells, pseudo- and artificial languages, glossolalia, fluency exercises, sound symbolism, onomatopeia, imitation of animals' voices. 
The fascination which magic spells, onomatopeia and "language of birds" have on poets, can be noticed in the texts of many sound poets who took up the tradition of this popular poetry. So Raoul Hausmann, Kurt Schwitters and others wrote phonetic poems, containing imitation of animals' voices. I invite you to listen to Raoul Hausmann's "Oiseautal": 
slide 5: Raoul Hausmann: Oiseautal (ca. 1947) 
track 3: Raoul hausmann: Oiseautal 
After this short retrospect at the literary history concerning the first elements and previous forms and the reference to phonetic poems of contemporary authors who refer to these initial forms I am going to introduce the sound poetry of dadaism. 
The literary innovations, phonetic poems, simultaneous poems and bruitist poems and sound concerts were performed during the period of dadaism in Zürich and Berlin (in 1916 to 1923). Dada was the literary "avant-garde" of that time. Dada integrated the latest trends in the whole of Europe. In the founders of dada Zürich, read a few program notes in the Cabaret Voltaire: 
"In these phonetic poems we totally renounce the language that journalism has abused and corrupted. We must return to the innermost alchemy of the word, we must even give up the word too, to keep for poetry its last and holiest refuge. We must give up writing second-hand: that is, accepting words (...) that are not newly invented for our own use." (Ball 1974, p. 71) 
In such programmatic statements Ball criticizes the present state of the use of speech; criticism of speech and the situation of the artist are motivating him to give up the every-day standard speech in favour of a poetic diction of his own. It is the use of the speech that - according to Ball - gives the artist the chance to realize the highest degree of freedom by proving his god-like creativity, by inventing new sequences of sounds. 
Ball sees the cause for this effort in the "complete scepticism" against the symptoms of time, that is to say the destruction of all values through the First World War. 
This "complete scepticism" makes the "complete freedom" possible for the artist (s. Ball 1974, p. 102), who can fall back on the unconscious, the dreamlike and the ecstatic. 
slide 6: Hugo Ball: performances, Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich 1916 
Apart from Ball's criticism of time and speech also the "collective psychosis of creativity" of the Zürich dadaists contributed to Ball's giving up the normal order of speech in favour of "autonomy" of the sounds in a phase of an interior creative mania. The members of the Cabaret Voltaire tried to vie with one another in intensifying the chief stress and their requests for the planning of the variete-program, which apart from phonetic poems contained performances of simultaneous poems, so called "Negro rhythms" and "bruitist concerts". The latter was characterized by "specific, repeatable performance situations: light effects - that is to say limitations of Ball's appearances by darkness before and after the scene. The platform or stage, on which Ball is acting and performing, separates the audience from the stage and so limits his appearances locally. The costume consisting of a cylindrical shaman hat gives the acting poet according to his own statement the appearance of a priest, of a "magic bishop" (Ball 1974, p. 107). Form and colour of the "cubistic" costumes, however, point to the area of technology, for example to a robot. The gestures of the performing artist, moving between three music-stands in the centre and on the left and right side of stage, are - because of his stiff costume - reduced to the wing-like beating of his elbows, which according to Karl Riha would remind us of the "language of birds". Ball's appearance and exit are executed by his staff who carry him up and down the stage during the darkness. 
On June, 23rd in 1916 Ball among others performed his phonetic poem "gadji beri bimba": 
slide 7: Hugo Ball: "gadji beri bimba" (1916) 
track 4: Hugo Ball: "gadji beri bimba" 
             Michel Giroud: "projection sur un texte d'Hugo Ball" 

Here Ball makes use of alliteration in connection with vowel variations and other structrual techniques of combinations of children's language. Obviously Ball makes use of all possible forms of linguistic creativity, thus exposing the "interior alchemy of words" (Ball) to form - mainly in the German language - partly unfamiliar sequences of sounds according to the principle of repetition and variation. 
Although there is no title which might enable the recipient to develop a feeling of imagination or association the area of the exotic is addressed by means of sound sequences producing associations like "elifantolim", onomatopoeic effects like "tromtata" and strange sound sequences like "laxato". (For the mentioned effects compare stanzas 2 and 3.) The sound material alludes to well-known words and develops an immanent humour. Besides fundamental forms of the structure of speech are adopted. But Ball's attempt, to produce completely new sound combinations and a new lingual and musical structure with the help of the principle of repetition and variation, turns out to be a failure. The speech character becomes predominant, the intended sound character and rhythm is only hinted at. 
The second dadaist in my introduction is Kurt Schwitters. Schwitters's "Ursonate" undoubtedly ranks among the best known sound poems of the German literary history. Owing to the publication of the complete version read by the author himself the popularity even increased in the last four years. I invite you to listen to an excerpt of this complete reading. 

slide 8: portrait of Kurt Schwitters  
track 5: Kurt Schwitters: "Ursonate" (excerpt, 1932/93)  

Of considerable importance in a consideration of Schwitters's development as a sound poet is his transformation of the conception of poetic material which can be seen against the background of his confrontation with the word art theory of STURM. During 1919 he claimed that "all material perceived by the eye" (Kurt Schwitters 1981, p. 37) was suitable for his art, and in October of the same year he still maintained that the word was the basic material of poetic utterance: "The stuff of poetry is all that experience which stimulates the mind and feeling." (Kurt Schwitters 1981, p. 42) In the course of time, Schwitters expanded this concept of material in which he applied the Merz Principle to poetic expression, a principle originally intended to apply to painting. "Langauge 'ready-mades' and 'objets trouves'" were embodied in Schwitters's programmatic texts and poems. At the end of 1919 he writes: "Merz poetry is abstract. Analogous to Merz painting, it uses as its given components whole sentences from newspapers, posters, catalogues, conversations and so on, with or without modification." (Kurt Schwitters 1981, p. 38) These components make the principle of Merz poetry clear. Schwitters's justification of his method, that of extracting material from its everyday context and putting it at the disposal of artistic creation is to be indebted to the sound poet Herbert Behrens-Hangeler and to be found in the programmatic text "i / A Manifesto" of May, 1922. 
A radical change in Schwitters's poetic thinking clearly crystallizes out in the years after 1921. The movement away from resolving poetic utterance into its elements first taken up by the "word-art" theory of STURM is given further impetus by Schwitters in 1924, in his manifesto, "Consistent Poetry" in which he re-defines the concept of material and in which he reflects upon the ways poetry might be apprehended. Schwitters says: 
   "Consistent poetry is built up from letters. Letters have no conceptual relationship. Neither   have they in fact a sound: they only possess sound potential which can be evaluated when taken up by the reader. Consistent poetry rates letters and letter groups against each other." (Kurt Schwitters 1981, p. 190) 
Schwitters disassociated himself from the word-art theory of STURM in declaring that it is the letter and not the word which is the material of poetry. Citing the alphabet as an example, he emphasised the need in performance of forcibly removing letters or groups of letters from their original relational context and thus producing a work of art. In just what way this programme can be executed is demonstrated in the "Ursonate". 
It was not until 1932 that Schwitters published his "Ursonate" in its completed form. It appeared in a typographic edition supplied by Jan Tschichold under the title "Ursonate" as booklet No. 24 in his magazine "Merz". The title, "Sonata", however, was accorded to an earlier phonetic poem in 1923, which he later incorporated in modified form into the fourth section of his "Ursonate". 
slide 9: Kurt Schwitters: "Sonate" (1923) 
Even in 1921, Schwitters had hit upon the dominant theme of his sonata on hearing Raoul Hausmann's rendering of his "Poster Poem" "fmsbw" in Prag. 

slide 10: Raoul Hausmann: "fmsbw" (1918) 
slide 11: Kurt Schwitters: bfbwfms (1921) 

In the ten years between 1923 and 1932, several excerpts from the "Ursonate" appeared. 

slide 12: Kurt Schwitters: ("Tui") 

The whole first part of the "Ursonate" with commentary which was probably complete under the title "My Sonata in Primordial Sound" in the No. 11th edition of the Dutch magazine "i 10". 
In contradistinction to the earlier poem entitled "My Sonata in Primordial Sound" of 1927 Schwitters's revised title, "Ursonate", points to the possibility that he could have had the original form of the musical sonata in mind. This assumption would seem to be confirmed by the absence of the culminative achievements characterizing the classical sonata and by  the reduction of the sonata form to its barest necessities. On the other hand, however, Schwitters uses the terminology of the classical sonata in his explanatory notes on the "Ursonate", words such as 'scherzo', 'cadence', 'rondo' etc., and consequently by using such formal nomenclature normally reserved to describe the complicated, four-movement sonata form he is very far removed from what might be called an original or primordial form. 
The idea of a "total work of art" in the sense of a "coalescence of art form" is something Schwitters wanted to experiment with along the boundaries of literature and music. According to Bernd Scheffer and others, Schwitters's "Ursonate" represents an abortive attempt to give phonetic poetry a musical form since Schwitters with his monophonic song, his abandonments of diverse voice and change of key comes nowhere near the sonata proper with its rules of style. Up to now, most attempts of phonetic poetry to overstep the boundaries of music have, according to Helmut Heißenbüttel and others, fallen foul of the fact that the poetry of language, in this case German, and especially in the case of  the spoken word, remains a structural and therefore constitutive unit. The manner of articulation of the given language usage (here, German) cannot be wholly eliminated. 
Criticism is also directed against Schwitters's unsatisfactory solution of the structuring of a longish poem of this sort. Bernd Scheffer, a critic, feels that while he may well have been successful in maintaining the formal construction of the sonata, he has not, on the other hand, succeeded in informing his work with those necessary variations of form and tone appropriate to the elaboration and working out of motives and themes. 
In contrast to the opinions held by Scheffer and Heißenbüttel, Manfred Peters considers the "Ursoante" not as a failure to amalgamate literature and music, but regards the contradiction resulting from the antiquated form of the sonata and the emancipated speech sounds as "an additional dialectic which determines the course of the sonata as a search for a synthesis of obsolete form and liberated material". (Manfred Peters 1977, p. 220) 
In performing the "Ursonate" Schwitters dispenses with instruments, noises and emotionally-charged, instinctive expressions such as moans, cries or screams. Only those sounds are exhibited which characterize the given language, in this case, German. Schwitters in his commentary points out that "the letters (be) articulated as pronounced in German" (Kurt Schwitters1973, p. 313) since, as he writes later, "the German language has simpler and more exact speech sounds than, for example, the English (Kurt Schwitters 1973, p. 313). The basis for both production and articulation of the sound combinations remains German. In Schwitters's rendering, therefore, the articulation of the sounds is quite clearly recognisable, and there is no attempt to repress it - a fact which works against the success of the piece as formally similar to 19th-century music. 

slide 13: portrait of Kurt Schwitters 

While Werner Schmalenbach maintains that Schwitters is bold in the consistent use of pure phonetic material, many writers criticise Schwitters's mode of articulation and word-orientation. Helmut Heißenbüttel objects to Schwitters's phonemes, asserting that they border upon something resembling the calls of birds. 
With reference to excerpts from the "Ursonate" read by the author, an attempt will be made now to examine this critical appraisal of Schwitters's work. Let us listen to Schwitters's reading recorded in 1932: 

track 6: Kurt Schwitters: "Ursonate" (excerpt, 1932) 
slide 14: Kurt Schwitters: "Ursonate" (excerpt, INTRODUCTION) 

After parts of the introduction, Schwitters then introduces the four principal themes of the first movement of the "Ursonate". 
The first theme takes over some of the sound cadences from Raoul Hausmann's "Poster Poem" "fsmbw", where Schwitters inserts, as Hausmann himself probably had in performances, additional vowels in the interests of improving the pronunciation of the cadence. 
The second theme in the performance subtitled by Schwitters "The departure of the train to Dresden" hardly allows the word "Dresden" to be recognised: the phonetic structure of the word is dissolved while individual phonemes are enlarged and extended thus rendering the word unintelligible. 
The third theme executes cadences or series of sounds which make demands on speech usage widely deviant from the purpose-oriented requirements of the language - "nnz krr", for example, and push their associative component into the background. Individual sound series recall word meanings: "Rinn", for example, is reminiscent of "Rinne". 
The fourth theme, too, as the result of heaping up consonants, distends well-known words: "Rrummpff" might be equated with "Rumpf" (Rump); the sound series "tillff" and "till" in the second theme recall to mind the Christian name "Till" in which case the pilling up of consonants only slightly weakens the insinuation. 
Some series, such as "Jüü Kaa" are sung or, as a question mark indicates, are given rising intonation at the end of the "sentence". 

slide 15: Kurt Schwitters: "Ursonate" (excerpt, SCHERZO)  

The "scherzo", in opinion of many critics, stands out as the result of accord and contrast of the individual sound combinations. After the repetition of individual first lines, the "trio" follows and the complete "scherzo" which closes the third movement. The form of the "scherzo", including the "trio" roughly corresponds to that of a sonata i. e. ABA / CDC / ABA. 
In his commentary on the "Ursonate", Schwitters describes the third movement in the following way: 
   "the third movement is a genuine scherzo, watch the rapid sequence of themes: lanke trr gll, pe pe pe pe pe pe and Ooka which are very different from one another and from which the character of a scherzo arises, the bizarre form lanke trr gll is immutable and stubbornly returns at the same tempo. in rrmmmp and rrrnnff there is an echo of rummpf tillff too of the first movement, but now it no longer sounds as gentle as the bleat of a lamb, but short and imperative, altogether masculine, the Rrumpftillftoo in the third movement does not sound so tender either. 
the ziiuu lenn trill and lümpff tümpff trill are derived in sound from the main theme lanke trr gll. the ziiuu iiuu of the trio is very reminiscent of ziiuu ennze in section 1, but here is pronounced and gay. 
the scherzo is considerably different from all other movements in that the long bee is of extraordinary importance. the scherzo has no bee in it." (Kurt Schwitters 1973, p. 312) 
Schwitters characerizes this third section as that of a sonata in the process of development toward the subsequent movement. Schwitters's notes also clarify the relationship of the "scherzo" to the other movements of the "Ursonate": "And here the comparison is the most important for it is here that one comes to the full enjoyment of the whole if it is possible to keep in mind all the parts and their relationships." (Kurt Schwitters 1975, p. 108) With the help of specific sound and typographic indications the listener is supposed to imagine all the parts of the "Ursonate" assembled in his mind so as to apprehend the "work in its entirety". 
In assessing this sound sonata, an analysis of the sound material of the "scherzo" is very revealing. The sound combinations accord more often than they contrast with one another. The first lines are very often repeated as are also sounds in other series such as "pe pe", "pii pii" or "Ooka ooka" so that confrontation with unfamiliar sounds is rarely necessary. Heißenbüttel goes so far as to maintain that lines 1-6 are "screamed" by Schwitters "thus bordering upon the onomatopoeic in resembling the calls of birds so that this utterances sometimes sounds like a sound of Nature, the cry of a bird, say." (Helmut Heißenbüttel 1983, p. 13) 
Summing up, we can say that although Schwitters's commendably artistic rendering places constraint on the associative content of the sound series, that material arising from German vocabulary and occuring in sound combination nevertheless remains partly recognisable. The very extensive treatment of the themes and motives of the "Ursonate" is effected by limited variable, phonetic material whose very limitation is emphasized by the excessive use of repetition. 
Kurt Schwitters's reading of the "Ursonate" does not particularly emphasize the sound contrasts, or complex sound juxtapositions. Instead, he sticks quite firmly to the sonata form in repeating, with varied styles of delivery, what come to be, for the listener, familiar themes. Heißenbüttel suggests that the "Ursonate" is a parody of music and language: "In filling up the sonata phonetically, Schwitters pokes fun at it." (Helmut Heißenbüttel 1983, p. 13) But it is probably more likely that the "Ursonate" manifests, like Schwitters's visual work, a love for and fascination with the materials taken out of their usual, everyday functional context and set in traditional musical form. 

The essential influence on the sound poetry after 1945 is -in my view - due to Raoul Hausmann's work who - in practice and in theory - freed the sound poem from elements of onomatopoeic poetry and from the imitation of musical forms. Both the literary professor Jörg Drews and the sound poet Bob Cobbing accentuate the importance of Hausmann as "father of sound poetry". 

slide 16: portrait of Raoul Hausmann 

Hausmann's early sound poems differ from Hugo Ball's sound poems like this: the sequences of letters in the optophonetic poems do not present unknown words, but sounds - and / or  phonemes without a semantical function. In accordance to his theories and his creative productions of sound poetry Hausmann was the first to go back to pre-lingual material and to perform a complete autonomy of the sound by isolating the sound from all morphological and syntactical categories, from all familiar contexts of communication. 

slide 17: Raoul Hausmann: "OFFEAH" (1918) 

While in his "Poster Poems" "OFFEAH" and "fmsbw" both made in 1918 he did not yet reach the visual prevailed as the principle of his production, he only very rarely left his principle to the chance in his optophonetic poems. 

slide 18: Raoul Hausmann: "kp'erioum" (1918/19) 

In his sound poem "kp'erioum" (made in 1918 or 1919) he continues to use the composing tendencies of the first two "Poster Poems" and he extends and transforms this poem into an optophonetic poem, which is characterised by deliberate visualization of the letters on the surface of the sheet of paper and the conveying and even surpassing their tonal valency. Hausmann is reading now his sound poems: 

slide 19: portrait of Raoul Hausmann 
track 8: "fmsbw/OFFEAH/kp'erioum" (1918/1958) 

So in his performance Hausmann develops articulating gestures which can be regarded as non-verbal sounds, obsolete expression of manners of speaking, but they can also be regarded as sound associations which might be seen as reminiscences of foreign languages or onomatopoetica. So Hausmann's performance varies between intelligibility and semantic abstinence as the larinx and the vocal chords do not offer any total availability in the act of producing abstract sound valences. Hausmann only partly frees himself from the organ of articulation used in the German language. 
Nicolas Einhorn pointed out that the activity of the audience in this process is not restricted to passive receiving of the sound poems, but that the repeating of the articulating gestures produce the raison d'etre for the sound poems. 
Who ever enters this world of sounds listening and imitating, says Einhorn, will experience and enjoy the freedom detached from the semantics connected with delight, fun and release. In his theoretical publications about sound poetry Hausmann sees the aims of Dada "to produce anti-art which tends to destroy the antiquated bourgeois culture." (Raoul Hausmann) The sound poem as formed by Hausmann fights against the vulgar utilitarian state of the speech and against the bourgeois devaluation of the terms which lost their meaning in the state of chaos of World War I. 
In 1921 Hausmann proclaimed the "complete freedom" of the individual that disposes of oral taboos which have been built up by languages in the process of learning the language and which prevent the surpassing of the artificial rules of the daily use of the speech. Hausmann wants to regain the affluence of the speech of sounds and the expressiveness and he wants to find new modes of expressions which - with the help of technical development - would improve the importance of the spoken poetic speech. Moreover he thinks that his own creating of sound poems implies physical and psychological processes, evokes mind-expansions of the participant. 

These intentions are taken up by Carlfriedrich Claus at the beginning in independence of Hausmann's ideas. Later he took issue with Hausmann's ideas developing and exeeding them and comparing them with another concept of sound poetry with the aim to perform musical qualities of the speech. 
This short survey about the idea and the form of the dadaistic phonetic poems must find an end now because of the limited time for my lecture. 
I am going to consider the so called "Sprachmusiksprachen" (an English translation might be 'speech-music-speech') of the post-war time. 


The introduced phonetic poems by Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters, and Raoul Hausmann show the main possibilities of sound poetry and they form the model for the sound poets after 1945. 
On one hand the tape recorders of the fifties allowed to cut up sounds of the speech into micro-particles, to combine them again in multi-layers and integrate them into musical structures. On the other hand poets endeaver to explore the form of speech and the "alchemy of words" (Hugo Ball), to demonstrate the flexibility of the letters (and the words). There are frontier crossings to music, radio play and radio art; the generic terms "phonetic poem" or phonetic text cannot be maintained exactly. 
After 1945 the authors of the Viennese group (Wiener Gruppe) established connections to the tradition of the modernity. Gerhard Rühm, Konrad Bayer, Friedrich Achleitner, Oswald Wiener, Hans Carl Artmann and other young poets and artists read everything they could find about expressionism, dadaism, surrealism and constrivism. August Stramm, Kurt Schwitters, Otto Nebel, and Raoul Hausmann represented for them the "true tradition" of the literary modernity, whose methods they wanted to adopt and to develop. "Where should it go on, if not accordingly at the final point?" wondered the members of the Viennese group in 1952. 

slide 20: portrait of Gerhard Rühm 

To bring up poetry to the level of consciousness of painting and music means for Gerhard Rühm, to expand the idea of material and the possibilities of poetry. Material of poetry means for Gerhard Rühm not only the single word and the surface of the paper, but mainly the individual speech sounds: 
   "the sopken word is a product of sounds (vowels) and noise(consonants) and beyond it means a term, which is reduced in the sound compositions." (Gerhard Rühm 1968, p. 11) 
Musical parameters like tempo, tone colour, tone pitch and loudness level are integrated in the creation of the sound texts (phonetic texts). In his "phonetic poems" Rühm lays stress on the emotional, expressive content of the speech sounds. A way of speaking that supports the emotional content of a combination of sounds, Rühm calls "sound gestures". It attributes a kind of communication character to such a way of speaking, because it can inform us about the psychic mood (disposition) and the situation of the speaker. The aesthetic value of the "expressions" of the year 1952/53 is based on the play between construction, that means deliberate artistic work, and the unconscious impulse of the speech gestures." (Gerhard Rühm 1988, p. 13) 

slide 21: Gerhard Rühm: expressionen 1-12 (1952/53) 
track 9: Gerhard Rühm: expressionen 1-12 

Rühm's momentarily flaring up "expressions" show such a brevity in their duration that associations of content cannot come into being. Rühm's aim is to perform speech material and not creating an emotional atmosphere. 
His phonetic poem "prayer" is based on very simple organizing principles, which are explained by Rühm as follows: 
   "the vowels  a,  a,  u,  e,  e,  e,  o,  i  - repeated again and again in the same order - are played around by several consonants until all possible combinations of every consonant with every vowel have taken place". (Gerhard Rühm 1970, p. 48) 

slide 22: Gerhard Rühm: "gebet" (1954) 
track 10: Gerhard Rühm: "gebet" 

Apart from the structural information Rühm - by his way of performing the poem - also attributes to his "gebet" ("prayer") an inner, ethical content. In the tender, swaying way in which it is performed, the poem shows something of a litany or a meditation. Gerhard Rühm applies a new and more pronounced accentuation in his "Wiener Lautgedichte" ("Viennese phonetic poems"), which are to suggest "sound and modulation of the Viennese dialect and which transport something of the partly grumbling and dragging, partly eruptive language of the Viennese". (Gerhard Rühm 1988, p. 42) 
In his "rede an österreich" ("addressing Austria") - created between 1955 and 1958 - Rühm exclusively makes use of the typical sound combinations of the Viennese dialect in order to imitate the somewhat disordered way of speaking of the Show-Viennese, who stands between the servile, crawling on all four legs before others and a vulgar aggressiveness". (Gerhard Rühm 1988, p. 42) I invite you to listen to Gerhard Rühm's "addressing Austria". 

slide 23: Gerhard Rühm: "rede an österreich" (1955-58) 
track 11: Gerhard Rühm: "rede an österreich" 

In later radio-texts Rühm also makes use of the device to alienate voices by means of manipulating tape recorders. In the seventies Rühm had the chance to adapt some texts of the fifties to the radio, for instance the "hymne an lesbierinnen" (Hymn to Lesbians"). 

slide 24: Gerhard Rühm: hymne an lesbierinnen (1956)  
track 12: Gerhard Rühm: Hymne an Lesbierinnen 

In the radio station Rühm made use of the technical possibilities of those days. He made the tape-recording of the "hymne an lesbierinnen" run backwards and transpose it - by accelerating the tape - into different tone pitches. The four versions of the speech text were mixed more and more tightly in four different versions. 

track 13: Gerhard Rühm: Hymne an Lesbierinnen (1956/72) 

After World War II various German authors have tried to work off the aesthetic ideas of modern art and music since the turn of the century. 

slide 25: portrait of Franz Mon  

For Franz Mon the impetus to deal with sound poetry began with his idea that after the end of Nazism the German language was a damaged, spoilt language, which contained everything that was predominant concerning lies and sadism during the time of Nazism. In order to give the German language again a chance to grow and to rejuvenate again, it must - according to Mon - be reflected in poetry, that is to say the language had to become material again. 
Material is according to Mon: "all levels forming the speech from the phonetic material to  the articulatory, verbal, syntactical and semantical structure." (Franz Mon 1968, p. 433) 
The function of poetry  is according to Franz Mon to make speech to come into view as speech, that is to say to stop the communicative function of the speech. In the phonetic destruction lies the chance to renew the creative work of the poet. Important for Mon is the origin of speech: the process of articulation, the various parameters, which form our speech: 
  "Qualities of the sound speech: tone colour, tone pitch together with the melodious gliding alone of the voice volume of sound with dynamic accentuation and the order of the flow of the speech." (Franz Mon 1970, p. 102) 
Mon wants to make the listener realize the procedures of micro-articulation. His texts are not based on single sounds, vowels or consonants, but on the so called sound dyades. These are the smallest phonetic units which at the same time are the simplest form of a syllable. Mon is writing: 
  "The sounds form a gliding articulation chain between the extreme poles of the vowel sound and sharp consonant explosives. The respiration and the articulation, the co-articulation of adjoining sounds, cause assimilations, which according to the neighbouring sounds show a different appearence. This process influences "modifications, shifting reflection, bursting of the material of articulation" and reveals traces of meaning, an "aura" of meaning." (Franz Mon 1970, p. 103) 
Franz Mon's "articulations" were partly published by Neske press in 1959 for the first time and in the anthology "movens" in 1960. According to Mon it is the reader's task to set going the unheard-of (unprecedented) complexity of the given visual or acoustic pattern of articulation, that is to say training speaking beyond the normal cours of the speech. An illustration of these theoretical statement could be heard in his anthology "Phonetic Poetry" of the year 1971. I invite you to listen to Mon's "erge erekt". 

slide 26: Franz Mon: "Text" /"rakon"/ (1960) 
track 14: Franz Mon: "erge erekt" (1962) 

The aesthetic attraction of these "articulations" is the floating emotion between the physilogical nature of speech and meaning. Of importance are also the reflecting effects of the speech, which are initiated with the listener in the act of listening. How does speech take place? The listener is expected to stay even in a state of wondering. I invite you to listen to an excerpt of "Montage from 'artikulationen 62'". 

track 15: Franz Mon: "Montage aus 'artikulationen 62'" (excerpt, "sechs/sichs/sochs" + "henk") 

Franz Mon is legitimating his radical form of sound poetry by refusing to make use of linear application of the speech. This closing one's mind against the functioning of literature is also a moment of engagement against the existing, against the automating. The "shock of the incomprehensible" is to irritate the automating course of life. Mon is writing: 
  "speech, which turns back to poetry, is an attempt to catch the most obvious, that was forgotten in the complicated and exhausting process of speech. Poetry is not exhausted in it, but it is searching for it, it needs the primitive material experience." (Franz Mon 1959, p. 29f.) 
Since 1968 Franz Mon - as an author of radio plays - has repeatedly integrated articulating sequences into longer radio texts, which he mainly realized for the Studio of Acoustic Art of the West German Radio, Cologne. I invite you to listen to an excerpt of Mon's "da du der bist" broadcasted in 1973. 

track 16: Franz Mon: excerpt from "da du der bist" (1973) 

While Mon's work of sound poetry is rather small because of the diversity of his artistic endeaver the production of sound poems takes up an important part in Carlfriedrich Claus's work. In the history of German sound poetry he undoubtedly holds the first rank, being almost unrivalled in his radical exclusiveness: In Claus's creations sounds of speech no longer appear in connection of the communicative language of the speech which intends to procure verbal information, but it appears in the context of autonomous sound events or sound processes that are meant to arouse the listener's sensibility for plasticity and the colour of speech. 
To get a better understanding of Claus's work of sound poetry - he was born in 1930 -, it is helpful to consider Claus's earlier literary experiments and to have a closer look at the beginning of the production in the childhood of the artist during the "Third Reich". 
By 1944 Carlfriedrich Claus was engaged in the most different areas - among other things - in occult sciences, parapsychology connected with ethnology. He was interested in the possibilities of certain religions and mythologies how he could bring about - with the help of sounds and sound impulses - certain mind-expansions respectively psychical and physical changes which was necessary to avoid the pressure of the totalitarian society. In this connection Claus mentions the religious exercises - that is the unarticulated yells and shrieks of the shamanism in Sibiria and Mongolia, the non-verbal murmur - formulas of the lamas in Tibet and the korroborri - exstatic singing and dancing in mass meetings during death ceremonies - still in use with the Australians. 
These procedures connected with dance and senseless crying lead to ecstatic dimensions or they end in silence. At the same time physilogical processes are in the body changing the blood circulation in the brain for example. We will listen now to 

track 17: Carlfriedrich Claus's "Dynamic coarticulation no. 1 and 2" performed in 1959

Because of his experiences in his childhood the work of art is for Claus a starting point for an experiment on one's own body. The sound processes require the listener's own initiative if he wants to take such sound processes as an impulse for speech exercises for himself by duplicating the performed articulation processes intensively and in full concentration. These procedures can extend the sphere of experience in an unimaginable way. So for instance contacts to the world around us and to the open nature can be intensified with the help of articulating in the open country. Or the participant himself has a chance to test psychological experiences for instance by articulating the alveolar explosive sound "t" aloud while he is awakening and still lying in bed. 
As a participant the listener has a chance of duplicating and perceiving the articulation and its initial stage renewdly. All that is according to Claus the foundation of his later experimental attempts concerning sound poetry. 
The recording of a sound text and speech exercises - first recorded in 1959 - are based on the artist's essential ideas and experiences which are also important for Claus's late production of sound poetry: Claus frees himself from putting down his sound poems in writing and he records his articulation process in a multiple-track way with the help of the trick button of a tape-recorder. 
These sound texts and speech exercises are based on the idea of a dialectical relation of the vehicles of information, Claus says: "Writing is not only a vehicle of information. Writing itself - the vehicle itself - transmits signals, structural information. At the same time I understood: The same is true for the spoken language. The sounds, too, transmit messages of their own under and above the semantical threshold." 
The sound texts respectively the speech texts of 1959 and the sound processes of later years - especially the five single-track ones of 1982 - reflect this discovery in a very great diversity. I invite you to listen to an excerpt of 

track 18: Carlfriedrich Claus's "five single-track sound processes" of the year 1982

Here Claus succeeeds in reaching the fundamental spheres of speech production and discovers everything anew: the world of that which has to be articulated - so to speak of the view of a child the phase of stammering and mumbling. 
By intensifying the material signals of single sounds which are used in the daily act of speaking - without being noticed - into exact processes of articulation, he works out those "unconscious communicative processes" which are present subliminal in conversation and which shock and dismay the receiver. The existence of emotional magnetic fields of sympathy and antipathy become clear; shocking processes - unknown to the speaker - are laid open in the listener. The activating of nonverbal processes in the sound processes is exposing the unknown; the speech organs thus become organs of perception and hearing. Another aspect which is normally overlooked can be stated in the sound processes: that is the quasimusical aspect which is already in the natural speech, but by destroying the natural speech the disclosure of the quasi-musical structures is even increased. 
The speech sounds have been taken out of their role as  a vehicle for semantic (grammatical, stylistic) information and they are now integrated into new acoustical no-longer respectively not-yet structures of speech or systems of speech into "music". Ernst Bloch's "music-philosophy" which Claus got to know in Leipzig in the fifties had a strong influence on him. 
Claus's sound poetic work of the year 1993 called "Lautaggregat" produced for the Studio of Acoustic Art at the West German Radio Cologne fulfills the musical claim to sound poetry. These speech operations have been realized in dummy head stereophony. I am going to present an excerpt of this 55 minutes long radio play: 

track 19: Carlfriedrich Claus: Lautaggregat (excerpt, 1991) 

slide 27: portrait of Oskar Pastior 

While Gerhard Rühm, Franz Mon, and Carlfriedrich Claus push ahead the dissociation of the word and the phonetic material, Oskar Pastior and Ernst Jandl free themselves from the semantics of the word without gaining ground in the innermost parts of the phonetic material. 
Oskar Pastior is among those poets who have devoted themselves to the work with and at the speech and who work for the boundlessness of speech dealing with the "alchemy of the word" (Hugo Ball) and making an appeal to the reader's or listener's imagination and creativity - against all norms and rules of poetry. 
Concerning the specific treatment of the speech Oskar Pastior shows an elective affinity with Velimir Chlebnikov and the authors of the Viennese group - Hans Carl Artmann and Ernst Jandl. In his collection of poems "erweiterte poesie" ("enlarged poetry") of the year 1954 Artmann makes use of his own idiom. In 1978 Pastior's collections of poems entitled "Der krimgotische Fächer. Lieder und Balladen" ("The Krimgothic fan. Songs and Ballads") the title of which alludes to the language of the Gothic tribe of the Taurus. The "Gothic language", Pastior's private speech, a speech material of various origins, covering the whole speech area of Central Europe contains many neologisms, is mixed-up and varied by the author, thus giving the words a blurred and even an ambiguous meaning. Particular poems like "Die Ballade vom defekten Kabel" ("The Ballad of the defective cable") can be decoded easily. 

slide 28: Oskar Pastior: "Ballade vom defekten Kabel" (1978) 
track 20: Oskar Pastior: "Ballade vom defekten Kabel" 

Here Pastior pours out his anger about the technical bad luck. His swearing and complaining are culminating in his appeal to killing. Towards the end of the poem the lamentation about God's calf or better about the defect speech is resumed. 
In his "sonetburger" ("Sonet-burgers") and "Anagrammgedichte" ("Anagram poems") of 1983 and 1985 Pastior continued to develop his alchemy of words or better his genetics of speech. For his Sonetburger-poems Pastior took his Petrarca-translation as his model. According to the general directions of a group called OULIP he acted according to two rules: Firstly: Every verse consists of a certain number of characters and spaces per line. Secondly: Every poem must be written in the form of a sonnet. While writing Pastior discovered the anagram. So the "Sonet-burgers" are sonnets and anagram poems at the same time. They explore the room (which means here battlefield or arena) between certainty and uncertainty, between semantic significance and semantic insignificance. I invite you to listen to Pastior's "sonet-burger". 

slide 29: Oskar Pastior: "sonet-burger" (1983) 
track 21: Oskar Pastior: "sonetburger" 

The reader can find references to semantics in Pastior's poems, as he doesn't disintegrate the word completely. However the play with the material of the speech is directed not only from the meaning of the word but also from the musical parameter as we can see in the "Sonetburger-poem" "der bug hat zwei fübe": 

slide 30: Oskar Pastior: "der bug hat zwei fübe" (1983) 
track 22: Oskar Pastior: "der bug hat zwei fübe" 

slide 31: portrait of Ernst Jandl  

Ernst Jandl often makes use of means of onomatopoeia and sound symbolism: The phonetic poem "schtzngrm" of about 1956 is among his best known poems, which he has called a mixed form between word and sound poem. 

slide 32: Ernst Jandl: schtzngrmm (1956/66) 

By leaving out the vowels in the word "Schützengraben" ("the trenches") you can see and hear that in the reductive form "schtzngrmm" he achieved a hardening of the words, thus confronting a potentially semantic relevant sequence of elements (schtzgrmm) with a purely sound-repeating sequence (t-t-t-t). 
The consonants respectively the sequences of consonants (sch, tz, tzn, gr, grm, t-t-t) which are not selected from the multitude of the consonantal stock of the German language but from the general direction of the word alone, are by means of repetition and variation arranged to reach the aim to imitate the din and yelling of a battle. The consonantal onomatopoeia imitates the sounds of a battle respectively of an attack from the view of a trench. Jandl's concept of composition and his voice realize an exactness in his imitation to such a high degree that the "terrible absurdity of the war" (Ernst Jandl) can be heard. But the listener must meet the requirements to decode the sound group - above all the sound sequence of t-tt in the last line - as "Tod" or "tot", as death or dead. 
I am going to play the version produced by the BBC London in 1966 followed by the "Ode to N". 

track 23: Ernst Jandl: Schützengraben 
slide 33: Ernst Jandl: Ode auf N (1956/66) 
track 24: Ernst Jandl: Ode to N (1966) 

In Jandl's phonetic poem "tohuwabohu" speech like music become a mere sounding procedure the meaning of which is the procedure itself. The word "tohuwabohu" in so far fits into the disintegration into single phonems of the sound structure as we have here a direct relation between signs and the significant and the phonems - created as sound and rythm - can render the  meaning of the words. 
Already in his recitative poem "Ode to N" Jandl demonstrated disintegration of speech and the manifesting transformation of the semantically effective sound forms in the course of which Jandl showed that the original  meaning of the word is latent in the tonally effective remainders and maintains the aesthetic tension. 
According to some scholars we can call this already a sound composition. But in "tohuwabohu" the character of a sound composition is even more noticible. 
The sounds are not longer remainders of speech, but elements of a sound composition, the effectiveness of which is not its latent tension towards the disintegration meanings of words, but exclusively on the structure of sound. 
Inspite of some passages in which sounds melt like in a melting-pot of squash, Jandl does not avoid going back to the meaning of the word: "otto", "tut", "Tut tot", "hut ab" (Otto, does dead, hat off) (Ernst Jandl 1966, p. 35) 
Obviously even those phonetic poems, which have been classified as "sound compositions" by experts must have certain intentional areas of association, which are realized by means of specific forming of the elements of the speech, to give the recipient a chance to remember the every-day world of experience without which - according to Jandl - phonetic poems would be completely amorphous. 
In the end of my lecture I am going to present firstly Ernst Jandl's reading of "tohuwabohu" and secondly Lauren Newton's interpretation together with musicians once again. 

slide 34: Ernst Jandl: "tohuwabohu" (1966) 
track 25: Ernst Jandl: tohuwabohu (Performed by Ernst Jandl) 
track 26: Ernst jandl: "tohuwabohu" (Performed by Lauren Newton and others) 

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