Flaws in the body and how we work with them : an interview with composer Alexander Schubert

Kanga, Zubin and Schubert, Alexander (2016) Flaws in the body and how we work with them : an interview with composer Alexander Schubert. Contemporary Music Review, 35 (4-5). pp. 535-553. ISSN 0749-4467


This interview with Alexander Schubert, one of the most significant of the younger generation
of German composers, examines his work as an innovator of new types of gesture-technology
relationships. We begin by discussing his background, education and influences, and in
particular his relationship to the peers discussed above. We then examine some specific
questions about his use of video (both live and prerecorded) and the use of choreographed
gestures. Finally, we discuss four key works which show three very different approaches to
his use of gesture. Your Fox’s a Dirty Gold for solo performer with voice, motion sensors,
electric guitar, and live-electronics (2011) features a solo performer, singing and seeming to
play electric guitar, although all the sounds are produced by the movement of sensors,
rather than the instrument. Laplace Tiger for drum-kit, arm-sensor, live electronics, and
live video (2009) shows the use of live video triggered by the drummer’s gestures,
amplifying while also transforming the audience’s perceptions of these movements and the
resultant sounds. Sensate Focus for electric guitar, bass clarinet, violin, percussion, liveelectronics
and animated light (2014) uses lighting to create the illusion that the ensemble
on stage is a digital projection. And HELLO for any number of instruments, live electronics
and video (2014) uses a video of himself performing everyday tasks in his home,
as both the graphic score and the ‘conductor’ for the ensemble.
Keywords: Alexander Schubert; Zubin Kanga; Gesture; Technology; Video; Sensors;
German; Composer

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