Ickelsamers alphabet is a bilingual music performance in German and French. The performance has parts which are simultaneous in both languages.
Special challenges / difficulties:
For both languages I had to make sure to get a very high linguistic intelligibility. The second task was the acoustic realization of the small music ensemble consisting of viola, cello, contrabass, flutes and clarinets. On account of the special structure of the performance and the state of the performance rooms, the loudspeakers were placed behind the actors which complicated the electroacoustic conversion a lot.
This performance could be seen in the broadest sense as a kind of "instructions" for the right pronunciation of letters. Starting with the German grammarian Valentinus Ickelsamer and his French counterpart Louis Meigret, both born in 1500, stories were spun all around the regular pronunciation of certain letters in both languages. Also the music ensemble tried to provide the peculiarities of these respective letters with their own means for the listener.
The locations in which the performance were to be given distinguished themselves by a lot of acoustic reflection and reverberations. This made it not only inevitably to support both speech actresses with electro acoustical means. The sometimes very filigree and quiet music elements would need also a sound-technical support not to get lost in the reverb of the performance-room. The voices had to co-exist with each other. It was important that each language could stay without having a negative influence on the other. Bilingual listeners, who were expected in great numbers for the performances, were to have the chance to follow the story in their chosen language. Instead of competing music and speech parts should enter in an equal dialogue. To get a very natural voice in the electro acoustical conversion I decided to use omnidirectional microphones for this purpose. This had of course considerable effects on the sound-technical handling, because almost all acoustically relevant actions happened in between the loudspeakers and the audience.
Such a difficult kind of the sound design made it necessary for me to have a very good listening position. The mixing board had to be placed in the middle of the audience. So I decided on a Yamaha LS9 mixing desk. This mixing desk offered all the necessary technical possibilities on very small dimensions. That helped not to distract the attention of the audience from the play by the view of a mixing desk.
Liquid Penguin ensemble:
Monika Bagdonaite (viola)
Katharina Bihler (text, performance)
Julien Blondel (violoncello)
Elodie Brochier (text, performance)
Wollie Kaiser (flutes, clarinets)
Stefan Scheib (composition, doublebass)
Holger Stedem (sound design)