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9 Versions of Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate”

By Kenneth Goldsmith

schwitters_single.jpg
[ There are 29 MP3 files in this post. ]
Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate,” written between 1922 and 1932 was the greatest sound poem of the 20th century. Below the fold, you can find 9 versions of it by sound artists from around the world. Schwitters was primarily known for his Dadaist collages and visual art works, but I feel that the “Ursonate” is the most important and significantly influential work he made. His own legendary recording of his work was lost for years. It finally turned up in an attic in Holland the late ‘80s. You can read more about the discovery here. You can view the wonderful score here.


Version 1: Kurt Schwitters’ original version of the “Ursonate”
1. einleitung und erster teil: rondo (21:58)
2. zweiter teil: largo (3:12)
3. dritter teil: scherzo – trio – scherzo (2:24)
4. vierter teil: presto – ablosung – kadenz -schluss (13:36)
Version 2: Canadian sound poet Christian Bök’s version of the “Ursonate” (the fastest version on record)
Christian Bök’s “Ursonate”
Version 3: Jaap Blonk’s first version of the “Ursonate” (1986)
1. Erster teil
2. Rondo allegro largo
4. Scherzo
4. Preto Finale
Version 4: Dutch sound poet Jaap Blonk’s second version of the “Ursonate” (2003)
1. Erster teil
2. Rondo allegro largo
3. Scherzo
4. Presto Finale
5. Cadenza Finale
Version 5: Finnish group Linnunlaulupuu’s version of the “Ursonate” (2005)
Ursonate
Version 6: Japanese sound poet Tomomi Adachi’s variations on the “Ursonate” (2001)
Schwitters Variations
Version 7: French sound poet Sébastien Lespinasse’s version of the “Ursonate” (2003)
Ursonate
Version 8: Ensemble Ordinature’s robot version of the “Ursonate” (undated)
1. Rondo allegro largo
2. Scherzo
3. Preto Finale
Version 9: Canadian composer Christopher Butterfield’s version of the “Ursonate” (undated)
1. Ursonate: Rondo Allegro (22’49″)
2. Ursonate: Largo (4’31″)
3. Ursonate: Scherzo (2’05″)
4. Ursonate: Presto: Finale (13’16″)

Comments (2)

  • On July 11, 2007 at 6:26 pm Jen T. wrote:

    Luke McGowan’s Robo Ursonate, 2005, can be found here:
    http://www.archive.org/details/lf067mp3
    Apparently, Ensemble Ordinature has hit on the same idea (text-to-speech synthesis of Schwitters’ score), though arguably McGowan’s simple conception is superior.
    McGowan has also alleged to hire the Micro Machines guy (John Moschitta) to blow Bok’s rendition out of the water.

  • On December 5, 2007 at 12:12 pm orow dunstable wrote:

    However, Ensemble Ordinature hit upon this idea, recorded and sent me a copy by June 2004. And superiority is indeed arguable.


Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, March 4th, 2007 by Kenneth Goldsmith.