'Polyphtong' was conceived as a live quadraphonic (four-channel) composition for voice and computer. It was premiered at Stanford University in March of 2012. In August of 2013, Blonk radically reworked the piece to create the stereo version presented on this album. All sounds heard in it are derived from Blonk’s vocals. Spatial placement and movement are extended by electronic means. The phonetic concepts of diphtong and approximant are an important focus in the more meditative sectons of the work. It also uses the techniques of Blonk's cheek synthesizer: many kinds of stereo mouth sounds driven by sheer air, ranging from very low to extremely high pressures. 'Polyphtong' is a continuous piece, but it has been split into tracks for listeners’ convenience.
catalog number: ele019
total playing time: 46'46"
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Jaap Blonk (b. 1953 in Woerden, Holland) is a self-taught composer, performer and poet. He went to university for mathematics and musicology but did not finish those studies. In the late 1970s, he began to play the saxophone and compose music. A few years later, he discovered his potential as a vocal performer, first by reciting poetry, and later through improvisations and his own compositions. For almost two decades, the voice was his main means for the discovery and development of new sounds.
In 2000, Blonk started work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending the field to include pure sound synthesis as well. He took a year off from performing in 2006. As a result, his renewed interest in mathematics led him to research the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual animation and poetry. As a vocalist, Jaap Blonk is unique for his powerful stage presence and almost childlike freedom in improvisation, combined with a keen grasp of structure. He has performed around the world, on all continents. With the use of live electronics the scope and range of his concerts has acquired a considerable extension. Besides working as a soloist, he collaborated with many musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary and improvised music, like Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and the Ebony Band. He premiered several compositions by the German composer Carola Bauckholt, including a piece for voice and orchestra. A solo voice piece was commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2002. On several occasions he collaborated with visual computer artist Golan Levin.
Blonk's work for radio and television includes several commissioned radio plays. He also makes larger-scale drawings of his scores. He runs his own record label, Kontrans. Other Blonk recordings appeared on Staalplaat, Basta, VICTO, Ecstatic Peace, My Dance The Skull, Monotype, and Plant Migration Records. His book/CD 'Traces of Speech' was published in 2012 by Hybriden-Verlag. In August 2013, comprehensive collection of his sound poetry entitled 'KLINKT' was published as a book with 2 CDs.