Henrik Schwarz & Alma Quartet
The story of CCMYK is the story of chance, communication and control. In 2013, after performing with the Dutch Chamber Orchestra in Amsterdam, Henrik was approached by Marc Daniel of the Alma String Quartet. In 2015, Henrik invited the four players to his studio in Berlin, where they began a series of improvisations. Henrik would suggest a musical phrase, and one of the Alma Quartet would play in response, with another then taking up the idea: highly trained classical musicians recording like a jazz band. Schwarz would record, replay and respond to their classical phrases with his own electronic production. These half hour jams would then be taken home by Henrik. There, he would edit them down, sculpting their form into coherent tracks. During this process he added electronic melodies and beats, even inviting the players back to respond again, thus building and refining these variations on a theme until the songs were fully formed.
“I love finding the essence of something,” says Schwarz. “I see it like working on a sculpture that someone else began, and to make it visible, you have to cut away until you can see what’s really there. So you find this balance between free and controlled. We would begin with this totally open vibe, and condense the freeform music into this finished work.”
This is the sound of open conversation between piercing intellects, taking their individual instruments and musical backgrounds to create a universe of sound. Perhaps this is the meaning of the album title: three primary colours and a key that combine to bring any image imaginable to life. For the live show, Schwarz has even reimagined the building blocks of both a club and an orchestra. Instead of a conventional loudspeaker, he has remade a cello to amplify his electronic effects. In place of a metronome, the group will look to an automated needle on a display, directed by Schwarz, keeping time with the sensitivity and feeling of a conductor.
“This synthesis of classical and electronic is not only about music. It’s a bigger thing: finding a way to communicate,” says Schwarz. “I’m very interested in combining things that are as far away from each other as possible, and how they can work together. How can you find the connections that makes sense? The connections that are beautiful and artistic, and lead to a higher combination, not just a linear conversation? I believe this is a major step towards bringing two worlds together.”
The idea behind Plunderphonia, a term which was coined in the mid-80s by composer John Oswald, is the “plundering” of pieces of music resulting in the creation of a new compostion.
The idea behind Plunderphonia is this: the artists who are summoned to “plunder” are required to select solely from classical music pieces from every era and recreate something new, unique and unprecedented. The musicians charged with this task to create a new way of approaching classical music were none other than one of the most revered, influential and forward thinking contemporary German producers, Henrik Schwarz, along with the internationally acclaimed string quartet The Alma Quartet (Holland). After the orchestra’s production of “Scripted Orkestra” with the Metropol Orkest of Jules Buckley, the new Plunderphonia musical project, is another representation of the evolution and synchronisation of the classical and electronic scenes.
the process: Henrik Schwarz explored 700 string quartet compositions from the last 250 years in order to identify the parts (segments of music with a variable length) that he wished to “plunder”. Sections of music were taken from more than 70 pieces by an illustrious array of composers and musicians including the likes of Bach, Bartok, Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, Ravel, Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead, Mozart, Schubert, and Terry Riley, to name but a few. After the selection process was completed, the music was written to music sheets, arranged for a quartet and brought to the Jazzanova Studio in Berlin where they were re-recorded by The Alma Quartet. Following on from recording, the “new” segments of music were turned into digital files known as STEMS for Henrik Schwarz to electronically edit; and then in the completion of Plunderphonia electronic production was used to deconstruct and reconstruct the segments of music that were replayed by The Alma Quartet; resulting in a completely new composition.
Plunderphonia live experience:
Plunderphonia live is a project in which compositions will be recreated in real time during live performances. Henrik Schwarz (with The Alma Quartet) will introduce the Plunderphonia live experience at the opening of the PopKulture Berlin 2018 festival, where he is set to perform and as part of his performance strings and electronics will being utilised in order to create a fresh and immersive way for listeners to enjoy Plunderphonia.
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