Josef Anton Riedl – Nr. 4/I (1968-69)

Josef Anton Riedl’s works are mostly remnants of functional music: when he has to write film or theater music he composes it in such a way that the music can stand independently. The normal procedure of diluting an autonomous composition to fit a film or play is directly
reversed: here one begins with the music and ends with an artificial independent work of art. The accidental motive which determined the choice of material is inherent to this work. In 1966/67 Riedl produced the film “Elektronische Musik” for the NDR in collaboration with Stefan Meuschel. For the documentary part, which dealt with the origin of this newest kind of music, Riedl made a variety of recordings of mechanical musical instruments. For instance he recorded the Wehe-Mignon-piano in the Deutsche Museum in Munich, which had retained many historical interpretations including some from Debussy, but which at the same time produced puffing noises; also the similar pneumatic action Hupfeld-Violine, a glockenspiel roll with Weber’s Jungfernkranz music, and a machine which produced sounds by means of rods upon metal discs – and played La Paloma. The laughter and humming of the museum attendants also came into the
recording of these singularly unusual instruments. Riedl amalgamated this and other material – chance discoveries and remains of film-work – into an electronic combination of square-wave tones, filtered and frequency-modulated sounds and other material, and
added suitable concrete sounds which happened to be at hand (barking dogs, aeroplane noise, mumbling and hissing sounds etc.).

Riedl was previously engaged in purely electronic music, in which every single passage must be prefixed and worked out in detail (as in his ‘Studien’). Already here dynamic passages occurred which possessed the character of a process to a high degree, and then he worked in recordings of concrete sounds whose unprofiled contours unravelled the strict lay-out of the course – as in the ‘Kompositionen 3 and 4/1’. –Dieter Schnebel

Art by Carol Bove