Why IIM over MICA
For decades, ROLAND NEUWIRTH has helped shape the Austrian music scene with his EXTREMSCHRAMMELN. He will soon be releasing an album recorded together with RADIO.STRING.QUARTET. In an interview with Jürgen Plank, ROLAND NEUWIRTH tells about the end of EXTREMSCHRAMMELN, how it came to its comeback and why writing in dialect since H.C. Artmann is different.
You have your band in 2016 Extreme scraping dissolved and now with the radio.string.quartet recorded the album "Erd". How did that happen?
Roland Neuwirth: A musician can never stop making music anyway, that's the first reason. After 42 years with the Extreme scraping I stopped because I got sick. All of a sudden I tore open a strange form of epilepsy, in which, thank God, I am not lying on the ground and rolling my eyes, but I kept getting interrupted for a few seconds. That accumulated and I sometimes had 15 dropouts in one day. While I was getting an infusion in the hospital, it suddenly occurred to me that I was going to a gig in St. Pölten! A full hall, with 600 people.
Did you play the concert
Roland Neuwirth: The doctor said it couldn't be done. I said to the doctor: “Sure, it works! Let's leave the cannula inside, put a bandage on it, I'll go to St. Pölten, play the gig and then come back to the hospital ”. It was a very good gig, I only had one dropout where I left the lyrics. And then I thought: "Maybe it really is wiser if you stop now."
How did the comeback come about?
Roland Neuwirth: At some point a festival organizer, Florian Krumpöck vom Culture.Summer.Semmering, said to me: “You belong on the stage again! Play a gig with me, no matter who, but you have to play again. " I wanted this concert with the radio.string.quartet play, that was the story.
Did you want to work with this quartet to add a chamber music aspect to your music?
Roland Neuwirth: I've always composed chamber music, whole evenings for large orchestras, and this music has also been performed. My first commission was for them Jeunesse, for a large orchestra and a Schrammel quartet, there they were Scratching the soloists. That was back then in music Society and I also played the guitar myself. Otherwise, as a composer, I have usually seen concerts like this in the audience. But after the two violinists of the radio.string.quartets Having played with me again and again - Bernie Mallinger was definitely there for ten years - I knew they had a quartet. I've also heard the quartet's music that really grooves. That fascinated me. So when the time came, I got back to that radio.string.quartet remind.
Did you already think about the quartet when composing the new pieces?
Roland Neuwirth: No, that was very different. They wanted to play my songs on their own and arranged them. I've already written three or four things that we also have in the program, for example the song “Dodndaunz”. One of my best works recently. I tried something new. I wanted to match the language exactly with the music. The quartet chose the songs themselves, all sad pieces, but they are the beautiful pieces. You arranged my compositions for string quartet. I have to say, however, that they have already made more than one arrangement. You have almost co-composed and in some cases have totally reduced the pieces. They took my music to another dimension and I like that very much. Bernie Mallinger is someone who is very textual. He doesn't care what the singer sings. He is very knowledgeable about the text, including poetry. And that was one reason why he liked my songs.
"In old age you don't bother with vanity any more."
You already mentioned the song “Dodndaunz”, which I heard as the key track on the album. It's a combative piece, what is it all about?
Roland Neuwirth: Age, of course. It is - one cannot say purification - a stop, perhaps. Which inevitably arises when you have a few years under your belt. Or several years. You then think differently, you always quarrel with age. If you don't want to grow old, you have to die young. I have Erwin Ortner from Schoenberg choir lamented about my age. He meant: "So what do you want? Now it's only about the essentials. " That stuck with me. In old age you don't bother with vanity any more. You listen to yourself and know what is essential. For example dealing with religious things, with the purpose of being human, with morals and so on. With music anyway, with everything that defines a person. This is reflected in the title “Dodndaunz”. It was my concern to design the musical and textual structure in such a way and to mix written language and dialect or to place them next to each other and to focus on the music.
What different musical possibilities do a string or a Schrammel quartet have?
Roland Neuwirth: You can't do a lot with a string quartet that you can do with a Schrammel quartet: the Schrammeln have two chord instruments, the pinch and the guitar. Then there are chords that sound together. That is not possible with the strings. The pizzicati only finish briefly. On one of the new numbers I tried to make the pizzicati sound like a harp.
I heard the album as a melancholy work that is also ironic. For example when Harald Serafin appears in the text and the Wienerlied runs through it musically. I would think that Bernie Mallinger's claims have been met.
Roland Neuwirth: I have to honestly say I think the album is great. We really succeeded in doing something good. It has also been well received technically. I am very happy with this production.
The video for "I reinvented the world" was released on Naschmarkt Filmed in Vienna, how did it come about?
Roland Neuwirth: I can't help it, Bernie Mallinger just did that and I think it's great. He filmed the video on his cell phone. Incredible actually, I think it's great. I didn't know he was doing that!
"I was always old, I was born old."
At Johnny Cash they talked about the beginning of the old work at some point, would you also classify the current album that way?
Roland Neuwirth: You are nice to me, what would you like to drink? I am right in the middle of the old work, I would say. I was always old, I was born old. I wrote poetry about death as a child. That was always present with me. I've always had my serious moments, even if I was often joking. My songs are always about death, it doesn't matter whether the songs are humorous, belittling or extreme. The topic runs through.
Is that why you ended up with the Wienerlied?
Roland Neuwirth: I teach at the Music University, I have a teaching position, I've been doing this for 3 years now, and that's why I reflected on Viennese music. The Wienerlied is something very baroque. The Viennese and the Austrian way of life in general is a baroque way of life. Drawing from full life, but always in the face of death. Often the last stanza of the Wienerlied is about death, but in a baroque way. A picture-book death, belittling it in order to take the horror out of death. The morbidity of the Wienerlied only became apparent with H.C. Artmann came to Wienerlied in post-war poetry. After the wars Vienna was gray and terrible. This has resulted in a morbidity that has never existed before. Artmann wrote the dialect phonetically and he put the Viennese dialect on the same level as any other language. Artmann's poetry had power and was a new way of writing. Since Artmann, the dialect has been spelled differently.
You would have had an album presentation at the beginning of April, how does the Corona situation affect you?
Roland Neuwirth: It doesn't concern me, I'm always alone with myself anyway. I'm in the country right now, I'm not locked in and can move around freely. I'll be fine. The concerts will be rescheduled whenever. But I have to rehearse beforehand, that's more of a problem. I don't want to go on stage without rehearsing.
Are you feeling better now?
Roland Neuwirth: I've got it under control again with medication, so I'm back to normal. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to make the new record.
Thank you very much for the interview.
Roland Neuwirth & Die Extremschrammeln
Roland Neuwirth & Die Extremschrammeln (Facebook)
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