Carola Bauckholt has written several pieces in which the imitation of bird sounds plays an important role. Examples are Lichtung (2011), for string quartet, and Zugvögel (2011/2012), for five wind instruments. In her piece Doppelbelichtung (2016), for the first time, these “photographic imitations”—as Carola calls them—are confronted with real recordings of singing birds. This piece is for violin and 12 loudspeakers, among them several “violin loudspeakers”: by placing tactile transducers on violins and hanging them in the concert hall, sounds are transmitted through the corpuses of violins.
Carola brought the two worlds of violins and birds together in this composition and each must be transformed to be able to approach the other. To imitate the birdsong, it is necessary that the violinist listens very carefully to the birds and searches for appropriate playing techniques to be able to imitate them as well as possible. But also, the birds have to move closer to the violin: their songs are slowed down, resulting in lower and slower songs. Both bird and violin sounds are notated very precisely in the score:
The twelve audio tracks of transformed bird recordings are played through twelve loudspeakers. Two of these loudspeakers are normal PA loudspeakers. Four of them are small loudspeakers placed in the audience and another small one is used as a monitor for the violinist. Most remarkable are the five “violin loudspeakers”, as mentioned above. These violins have tactile transducers attached to them and the audio sounds through the violin.
Double exposure—the English translation of the title Doppelbelichtung—is the technique of taking two pictures on one frame of film. In this piece every sound seems to be a sonic double exposure of a violin and a bird: the violin imitates the bird sounds, which are in turn modified to resemble the violin. By transmitting these sounds through tactile transducers attached to violin corpuses hanging in the air, every bird recording acquires the spectral characteristics of a violin. The piece is a thoughtful conversation between these new creatures.
Doppelbelichtung has been performed by Karin Hellqvist and the SWR Experimental Studio: