Rozalie Hirs

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Rozalie Hirs
Rozalie Hirs.jpg
Background information
Birth name Katrien Rozalie Hirs
Born (1965-04-07) 7 April 1965 (age 49)
Gouda, Netherlands
Genres Contemporary classical, experimental poetry
Occupations Composer, poet
Years active 1997–present
Website www.rozaliehirs.com

Rozalie Hirs (Gouda, 7 April 1965) is a Dutch composer of contemporary classical music and a poet. Her poetry and music are lyrical as well as experimental. The principal concerns of her work are the adventure of listening, reading, and the imagination.

Biography[edit]

Rozalie Hirs studied piano and voice from age twelve and seventeen respectively. For her secondary education, she attended Gymnasium Herkenrath, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, from 1975 until 1979, and Het Nieuwe Lyceum, Bilthoven, Netherlands, from which she graduated in 1983. She subsequently studied chemical engineering at the University of Twente, Enschede, completing her Master of Science degree in 1990. During her science studies she sang leading roles in several opera productions at Muziekschool Enschede, and co-composed and performed songs with her new wave band Boolean. From 1991 to 1992 she studied classical voice with Eugenie Ditewig at Utrechts Conservatorium, from 1992 to 1994 with Gerda van Zelm at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

Music education[edit]

From 1991 until 1998 Hirs studied composition at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague: from 1991 until 1994 with Diderik Wagenaar, from 1994 until 1998 with Louis Andriessen, taking additional composition lessons with Clarence Barlow in her final year. She obtained her Diploma in Musical Composition from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in 1999.

From 1999 until 2002 she furthered her education in composition with the French Spectralist Tristan Murail at Columbia University, New York, United States. She obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts title from Columbia University in 2007. Her dissertation consisted of the composition Platonic ID, commissioned by Asko Ensemble, and an essay about the compositional techniques Tristan Murail developed for Le lac. In 2002 Hirs took part in the Computer music and composition course at IRCAM, taught by Mikhail Malt (OpenMusic), Benjamin Thigpen (Max/msp), Jean Lochard (Diphone), and Marco Stroppa (OMChroma).

Teaching[edit]

Hirs developed the course OpenMusic and contemporary compositional techniques which she taught in collaboration with Nieuw Ensemble during the 2005-06 academic year at Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Amsterdam School of the Arts. During the 2010-11 academic year, Hirs was Visiting lecturer at the Department of Composition at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.

She has also taught Creative Writing courses and workshops at Kunstwelten, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, and Vormstudies, Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam School of the Arts.

Music[edit]

The music of Rozalie Hirs reveals a love for sound and refined structures,[1] in combination with a classic approach to form characteristic of the Hague School. Her compositional techniques involve research into the workings of sound, psychoacoustic effects and emotion in music. The listening experience itself, however, always remains central to her approach.[2] The uninitiated listener does not need to concern herself with the mathematical skeleton underlying Rozalie Hirs’s music. The composer reveals the soft gleaming skin of sounds in her music and poetry.

Hirs’s compositional techniques reveal a seemingly scientific approach, characterized by the incorporation of psychoacoustic effects, acoustic laws of sounding bodies, as well as mathematical functions. In In LA she uses the psychoacoustic Cocktail party effect (discovered by Colin Cherry in the fifties) as a metaphor of how we remember. In Book of Mirrors and Roseherte she investigates the use of the psychoacoustic effect of hearing combination tones when we are exposed to pitch intervals. The acoustic laws of sounding strings are investigated in article 4 through harmonics and their placements on the string. In Platonic ID Hirs used the ratios mentioned by Plato in the Timaeus (1:2:4:8 and 1:3:9:27) in order to generate her basic harmonic material.

Microtones[edit]

The present music notational system is based on twelve-tone equal temperament, corresponding to semitones, meaning that not all frequencies and pitches may be captured. Expanding the present system to a 24-tone or even 48-tone tempered tuning, corresponding to a resolution of a quarter tone and an eighthtone respectively, will lead to a larger choice of pitches, yet still entails approximation of frequencies into a notational grid (quantification).

Hirs composes her music in a continuum of frequencies. She thus uses the calculated frequencies and other musical parameters to generate electronic sounds as well as the instrumental score performed live. When notating the scores of Book of Mirrors and Roseherte Hirs started out approximating the frequencies to the nearest halftone. During the creative process of composing Roseherte Hirs decided to approximate into quarter tones. Since then her compositions have been notated in quarter tones.

The electronic sounds in Hirs's compositions are synthesized using the unapproximated frequencies and provide a means of reference for the musician during rehearsal and performance. In this way the role of the electronic sounds is two-fold, both as constituent to the music as well as a reference base for the performer: the electronic sounds shape the overall music and inform the instrumentalist how to adjust the intonation of the written pitches.

Poetry[edit]

Playing with sound in multiple layers of meaning and with multiple possibilities for reading leads to a ‘fluid’ poetry. Among these layers, the reader may choose again and again, thus to a large extent shaping his own reading experience. A multiplicity of reading possibilities and identities has become Hirs’ poetical trademark, forming a bridge to her music. In 2010, her CD "Pulsars" was released. On this CD, Hirs investigates polyglot language and the simultaneity of streams of meaning in three electroacoustic works using original texts in English.

Beginnings[edit]

On 10 May 1991 Rozalie Hirs presented her poetry for the first time to the public at the student festival for culture De Pythische Spelen, Enschede. She received the third prize for poetry and an invitation by Jan Kuijper, the renowned Amsterdam-based Querido’s principal poetry editor at the time. In 1992 Hirs’s poetry debut was published by the literary magazine De Revisor. In 1995 she was awarded the first prize for poetry at De Pythische Spelen, Amsterdam. Querido published her first poetry book Locus in 1998, followed by Logos (2002), Speling (Leeway, 2005), Geluksbrenger (Lucky Charm, 2008), and gestamelde werken (work in stuttering, 2012). Hirs' work was selected for De 100 beste gedichten van 1998, 2002, 2005 en 2008, and appeared in poetry collections, and literary magazines in Belgium, Germany, France, Mexico, and the Netherlands.

Locus[edit]

In her first poetry book Locus Rozalie Hirs plays with masks. Her poems are monologues of personages stemming from Greek mythology, philosophy, and the Judeo-Christian tradition.[3] In addition we find references to films, plays, and poems: for example, the poem Man Bites Dog refers to the Belgian mockumentary Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé près de chez vous) from 1992, while the poem Lucifer refers to the eponymous play by Joost van den Vondel from 1654 (and John Milton’s later Paradise Lost). The poet brings her archetypical personalities to life within the critical and formative circumstances, recalling the myth and presenting a new version of the tale. Almost without exception these poems deal with the ambiguity of situations we see ourselves confronted with in the world [4]

Logos[edit]

Logos, Rozalie Hirs’ second collection of poems, has the reader traveling through the human body. Inside the book there is an anatomical drawing, made by artist Noëlle von Eugen, by which the reader can navigate through the collection. The logos of the title might refer to the laws of the body, with which we find ourselves confronted through the world. But also to thought, the imagination, and the word. In the many love poems, the beloved turns out to be a human being of flesh and blood, and at the same time, language.[5]

Hirs included an anatomical map within the collection, by which the reader might navigate through the book as if it were a body. Visual artist Noëlle von Eugen created this map. Along with the body parts, she listed abbreviations for the titles of all the poems in which that body part appears. Since the anatomical map in fact functions as a hyperstructure of the collection, "Logos online" came about.

Speling[edit]

How poetry imposes its own rules, is demonstrated unequivocally by the third collection of Rozalie Hirs (1965): [Speling]. My free interpretation is that in these poems, what is at stake is the leeway between the word and its meaning, between meaning and sensation. [...] The questions that are posed in the first poems are really the starting point of the poetry that follows. [...] A poetry that is at times bizarre, and with the best will in the world cannot be explained rationally. In short, a very multifaceted poetry. Hirs alternates this kind of associative, unpredictable and at times bizarre poetry, that on more than one occasion is reminiscent of Astrid Lampe, with clear, transparent, but even so enigmatic poems such as ‘[vlinder]’ and ‘[Duchamp]’. A musical poetry, too. [...] A beautiful poetry that does not yield easily, that repulses and beguiles, that fascinates more and more, that ends up refusing to release the reader.[6]

The showpiece of the collection then is the ten-page long ‘[In LA]’, which can be read as a meditation on music and memory, and in which the words find themselves interspersed with a large amount of white space. The stuttering of the speaker, ‘d d d dead’, gives the words weight and renders the meditations forceful. This stream of thoughts constitutes not so much a poem as a score, and this is borne out by the fact that you can order it on CD with the poet. On it, Hirs has juxtaposed and superimposed the words polyphonically so that an orchestrated ‘Cocktail Party Effect’ emerges: sentences mingling at different volumes, so that the main speaker is hard to distinguish from background sounds. The care of this project does not lead to a metropolitan cacophony (as in L.A., say), but to an image of how things may happen within a speaker’s head. ‘LA’ is short for Louis Andriessen, whose utterances Hirs has collected and vocalized. It is a sober tribute to Andriessen’s beautiful, heavy words, and the chosen form lends this thinking-out-loud a buzzing hesitance that every speaker experiences when trying to find language for grand things. Here we experience simplicity.[7]

Lucky charm[edit]

The musical poetry of Geluksbrenger is constructed along the line of a ‘counterpoint’. Within a poem, Hirs seems to be stacking different poems on top of each other, processing them, splicing them, mixing them, shaking them, letting them flow into one another. And this is one single motion. In one breath. In sustained breath. However composed and constructed her poems may be: the writing never feels artificial. Her poems desire. Her poems are blazing with exuberance, offering a large choice of possibilities. [...] And the mill keeps turning many a poem long, the words keep on coming, the words are streaming. A stormy homecoming. Technically, she achieves this word-stream effect by eliding the punctuation marks (consistently every poem starts with a capital, surely a detail, but indicative of a striking meticulousness). Ever since Apollinaire this technique is an old trick but it works. Sentences seem to form bridges across each other, to overcome one another, to be ahead of each other, to inflate one another. This way poems appear that are chock full of anacolutha: a deconstructive stylistic device that is being used throughout the collection and that, as has been mentioned, keeps its effect of surprise.[8]

Work in stuttering[edit]

As a poet, Rozalie Hirs is an impressionist who likes to show how her working process has unfolded. She writes sensitive verses that idiosyncratically try to bring about a connection between romanticism and mathematics.[9]

Her work goes straight into cosmic noise and in the end calls for acting in utter subjectivity. Watch, just as you are seen. Name, just as you are named. Create, just as you are created. And read like a creator: stammering.[10]

Hirs likes to go all the way, and thereby reaches for the highest points. She is a composer as well. Her best poems ‘sing’ and have a forceful melody. Ever since her debut collection from 1998, her development can be traced clearly. If the poems in Locus (1998) and Logos (2002) seemed traditional when taken by themselves, already the second collection was conceptually organized. Logos is a through-composed opus about the human body. In reading poem by poem, you can escape the concept, but on the middle pages it is clear as daylight what the poet’s intentions are. There, a skinned body points to two- or three-letter codes referring to the alphabetically ordered poems in the collection. Here, I think, Hirs made use of the constructive achievements of her education in chemical technology and composition. It was the first impulse for three subsequent volumes of poetry of ideas. In Speling (2005) the concept was still very modest. On the first 39 pages, the poems grow, more or less regularly, one line at a time. Then the system falters, and finally the lines fall apart all across ten pages. In Geluksbrenger (2008) Rozalie Hirs made further strides towards disintegration, especially syntactically. Her poetry did no longer obey linguistic laws. Her lines escape the rules of language and started even to swarm about guided by the typesetter’s hand. Work in stuttering, too, finds Hirs toying with the rules of communicative language. Rather than in proclamation her message is in sound and the atmosphere that is evoked thereby. A happy example of that is offered by one of the shortest poems in the collection. In her longer poems, Hirs constructs such atmospheres in no less sonorous ways. [...] Hirs’ poetry intrigues me. Her stammering may be constructed, most of all she seems to be out on an investigation. And her investigations are a poetic adventure. For readers who are curious as well.[11]

Digital Poetry[edit]

In collaborating with visual artists and graphic designers Hirs creates digital poetry, including Logos online (2003), Family Tree app (2006), Lucky charm online (2011), Sightbook (2012), and Curvices app (2013).

Lucky charm online was released with poems, recordings and music (listening spaces, spoken word, and musical pieces with text) by Rozalie Hirs, and interactive poetry applications developed by Harm van den Dorpel. The interactive applications make the experience of reading, normally restricted to the page and the head of the reader, tangible and visible. As reader, one makes choices over and over again while reading, thereby actually recreating the text as one reads, usually more than one realizes. Interactive applications and digital poetry can provide an insight into these interventions into, and recreations of, the text, and show something of the reading experience, or even the writing experience of the poet.

Musical works[edit]

Orchestral[edit]

  • Book of mirrors, for chamber orchestra (film: Joost Rekveld; 2001)
  • Platonic ID, for chamber orchestra (2005–06)
  • Roseherte, for symphony orchestra & soundtrack (2007–08)
  • Ain, silabar ain, for jazz orchestra (2013)

Ensemble[edit]

  • Sacro Monte, for ensemble (1997)
  • a-book-of-light, for ensemble & soundtrack (2003)
  • Little whale and the ice, for ensemble (2010)
  • Venus [evening star] [invisible] [morning star], for percussion sextet & soundtrack (2010)
  • Zenit [north] [east] [south] [west], for string quartet (2010)
  • Arbre généalogique, for soprano, ensemble & soundtrack (text: Rozalie Hirs; 2011)

Chamber[edit]

  • article 0 [transarctic buddha], for percussion solo (2000)
  • Dog Making Kit & Puppy, for soprano, piano, cello & soundtrack (text: Anne Elliott; 2000)
  • article 1 to 3 [the] [aleph] [a], for piano solo (2003)
  • article 4 [map butterfly], for violin solo (or viola solo) (2004)
  • article 5 [dolphin, curved time], for soprano solo (text: Rozalie Hirs; 2008)
  • article 7 [seven ways to climb a mountain], for bass clarinet & soundtrack (2012)
  • article 6 [six waves], for electric guitar & soundtrack (2013)

Spoken voice/ based on own texts[edit]

  • Slaaplied voor een duivel, for narrator & music box (1994)
  • In LA, for spoken voice sextet (or for spoken voice & soundtrack) (2003)
  • A throwaway coincidence that determined everything, for spoken voice & soundtrack (film: Paul Leyton; 2004)
  • Klangtext, Textklang, for spoken voice & live electronics, co-composed with James Fei (2004)
  • Van het wonder is word, for spoken voice & soundtrack (2005)
  • Aan de zon, de wereld, for spoken voice & soundtrack (2006)
  • Pulsars, for spoken voice & soundtrack (2006–07)
  • Vlinders, gras, for spoken voice quartet (2007)
  • Poetry pieces I-III [heaven bleak] [dolphin] [family tree], for spoken voice & soundtrack (2008)
  • Curved space, for spoken voice, ensemble & live electronics (2009)
  • Bridge of Babel, for spoken voice & soundtrack (2009)
  • Curvices, ten compositions and an interlude for sound app (programming: Yvan Vander Sanden; design, animation: Cox & Grusenmeyer, 2013)
  • In war of [war], for twelve voices (2013)

Discography[edit]

  • Sacro Monte (instrumental work; Ives Ensemble), Present, NM Classics, Donemus, Amsterdam (1999)
  • In LA (electroacoustic work with text; Rozalie Hirs), Drukkerij Tielen, Boxtel (2003)
  • Platonic ID (instrumental works; Asko|Schönberg, Stefan Asbury, Arnold Marinissen, Anna McMichael, Dante Boon, Bas Wiegers), Attacca records, Amsterdam (2007)
  • Pulsars (electroacoustic works with text; Rozalie Hirs, Arnold Marinissen), Attacca records/Muziek Centrum Nederland, Amsterdam (2010)

Bibliography[edit]

Composition and research[edit]

  • R. Hirs, “On Murail’s Le lac”, D.M.A. dissertation, Columbia University/New York, Ann Arbor: ProQuest, 2007.
  • R. Hirs, B. Gilmore, eds., Contemporary Compositional Techniques and OpenMusic, Collection Musique/Sciences, Paris: Editions Delatour/IRCAM, 2009. ISBN 978-275-210-080-1
  • R. Hirs, "On Tristan Murail's Le lac", Contemporary Compositional Techniques and OpenMusic, Collection Musique/Sciences, Paris: Editions Delatour/IRCAM, 2009. pp 45–89. ISBN 978-275-210-080-1
  • R. Hirs, "Frequency-based compositional techniques in the music of Tristan Murail", Contemporary Compositional Techniques and OpenMusic, Collection Musique/Sciences, Paris: Editions Delatour/IRCAM, 2009. pp 93–196. ISBN 978-275-210-080-1
  • R. Hirs, "Zeitgenössische Kompositionstechniken und OpenMusic: Murail's Le Lac", Klangperspektiven (herausgegeben von Lukas Haselböck), Wolke Verlag, Hofheim, 2011. pp 119–164. ISBN 978-393-600-081-8

Poetry books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rozalie Hirs reveals the soft, gleaming skin of sounds in her music and poetry (Rozalie Hirs toont de zachte glimmende huid van klanken in haar muziek en poëzie), Anthony Fiumara, Trouw, 23 februari 2005
  2. ^ Componist op de voorgrond: Rozalie Hirs, Joep Stapel, Music Center Netherlands, 1 June 2010. Checked 1 December 2012
  3. ^ Review of Locus: Hirs plays with masks (Hirs speelt met maskers/ Hoor je stem van een andere zijde), Hans Groenewegen, HN Magazine, 15 August 1998
  4. ^ Interview with Rozalie Hirs, Na 600 milliseconden, Remko Ekkers, Poëziekrant 2005/5, Gent, Belgium.
  5. ^ Review of Logos: Remco Ekkers, Avontuur van lichaam en kosmos, De Leeuwarder Courant, The Netherlands, 28 June 2002
  6. ^ Review of Speling/ Leeway: Edwin Fagel, Wat doen de regels?, De Recensent, The Netherlands, 20 September 2005
  7. ^ Review of Speling/ Leeway: Johan Sonnenschein, Taal opslokken, Awater Poëzietijdschrift, The Netherlands, Fall 2005
  8. ^ Review of Logos: Thuiskomen in een molen, Alain Delmotte, Poëzierapport, Belgium, 14 May 2009
  9. ^ Review of Gestamelde werken/Work in stuttering: Een huidrots van water, Piet Gerbrandy, De Groene Amsterdammer, The Netherlands, 31 October 2012
  10. ^ Review of Gestamelde werken/Work in stuttering: Poëzie voor scheppende lezers, Joost Baars, Poëzekrant 7-8/12, Poëziecentrum, Gent, Belgium, 2 January 2013
  11. ^ Review of Gestamelde werken/Work in stuttering: De rijpgrage bomen buigen - Rozalie Hirs construeert haar conceptuele verzen op klankrijke wijze. Arie van den Berg. NRC Handelsblad. The Netherlands. 4 January 2013

External links[edit]