August 19, 2009 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Primiti Too Taa is an animated excerpt from Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate. You can see the whole text, and hear the whole thing as voiced by Schwitters or many others, including a text-to-speech program and the author of Eunoia.

The various performances are quite different; Christian Bök takes it extremely quickly, Jaap Blonk's 1986 version is very soft, and Adrian Khactu is more speechlike.

Kun Jia's "Simultaneous Ursonate" is surprisingly musical.
posted by kenko (11 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this. One of my favorite performance art pieces; the score being both iconic and infinitely mutable.
posted by ardgedee at 6:07 PM on August 19, 2009

That was a really good video interpretation. I think Schwitters himself would love it. Thanks for the post, kenko.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:36 PM on August 19, 2009

While listening to a public radio presentation of early 20th century German experimental music,
I was astonished to discover that I had already heard parts of the Ursonate in a song called
Kurt's Rejoinder.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:55 PM on August 19, 2009

Schwitters could collage, both with sound and image.

Yeah, Brian Eno used some of the Ur-Sonata on Kurt's Rejoinder (about 1:10 into this stupid video.)
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:00 AM on August 20, 2009

Famously, the late great George Melly turned the Ursonate into a form of self-defence: on a tour (I think) of the north of England in the late fifties, got into a spot of bother trying to chat up a female member of the audience; Said audient's boyfriend took offence with this and, following the peformance and fuelled by BEER met up with Mr Melly outside the venue with the aim of remonstrating with him in a somewhat kinetic and physical way. George responded by reciting the Ursonate as loudly as he could - "Fümms bö wä tää zää Uu, pögiff, kwiiee.
Dedesnn nn rrrrr, Ii Ee, mpiff tillff toooo, tillll, Jüü-Kaa? ".

They turned tail and ran from the obvious lunatic.
posted by Grangousier at 2:16 AM on August 20, 2009

Oh, I thought you meant AAAAAAAAA!
posted by Evilspork at 2:32 AM on August 20, 2009

Grangousier, that story doesn't surprise me -- I've heard of people doing similar things with Yiddish folksongs (I even knew someone who thwarted a mugging he saw about to take place by sneaking up behind the two guys laying in wait for their victim and singing "The Banana Boat Song" into their ears).

This actually reminds me of stories my parents told me about when I was tiny, and we had a set of magnetic letters and I would entertain myself by putting up impossibly long strings of letters and then asking my parents to tell me "what does this spell".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Schwitters was a really interesting guy, and aside from the notions of 'collage' that seem to have aggregated around him, he was a pioneer in ways that are only now becoming obvious.

Collage was a means to an end - 'I am an artist and I paint with nails!' was his introduction to his greater Merz practice, the idea of a constantly unfinished, evolving, assimilating and unfinishable work hammered together, rebuilding and reworking itself. The surface was the aesthetic, constructed of thematically-united elements, often people he knew.

What's really interesting is how much of this Merz practice has foreshadowed how we live online and our identities and behaviour on social networking sites; in many ways as well, Merz and his Merzbau reflect the very architecture of the web and the space we inhabit there.

May I humbly* proffer a presentation about what I term 'The Merzweb', looking at the parallels between's Schwitters' practice and the modern web (yes, self-link.)

Thanks for the links, Kinko.

* shamelessly
posted by davemee at 7:10 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

<ahem>...or kenko.</ahem>
posted by davemee at 7:15 AM on August 20, 2009

I have been performing this as part of a group. Our renditions are more musical that most as we have an "Urchestra" of as many as ten different musicians and vocalists that perform along with the recitation of the poem. We have a monthly event but are looking to have some dates outside of the open studio gatherings. Recently, we did play the Bowery Poetry Club where we were joined by Bob Holman.

related links:

Here are some of our documented performances found at FluxMass. - 7/31 is particularly fun in my opinion. I have yet to publish the Bowery show on that site, but I did record it... it will be up soon.

Our fearless leader Andy Laties' commentary on the piece and his performance of it.

My solo interpretation using text to speech synth.

Our new website. Coming soon....
posted by pronoblem at 7:57 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

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