Sunday, November 8, 2015


Listen to Kurt Schwitters performing his Ursonate. This is from the CD lunapark 0,10, which contains several recordings of (mostly avantgarde, or modernist) writers reading from their own works (mostly poems, fortunately). I purchased this CD a few years ago, with the occasion of that exquisitely curated DADA exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Some of the artists featured on this CD: Apollinaire, Maiakovski, Joyce, Gertrude Stein (very pleasant surprise), Tzara, Duchamp etc.

The reason I selected Kurt Schwitters' reading is that it gives us a key to the sound poems which, if only read and not heard, are hard to "register". Fortunately, his language is German, thus phonetic, which does make a reading possible - but it still does not transmit the musical element. It is this musical element, and the "sonata" dimension, that are not readily perceptible, if one has not attended any of the readings (in Zurich, in the 1930s). Furthermore, I like how visible the "Ur" dimension becomes, as he performs it; "Ur" means "arch-", as in: primitive, of the origins, ancestral etc.

But, listen:

Here is the sound poem, in written form: