As a musician and phonetician, what fascinates me about this project is this amazing moment when the spoken word becomes a sound event, when speech melodies and rhythms are suddenly perceived as musical events. Do foreign languages have different musical content? Do the texts want to be understood (nevertheless)? Can the sound of waves, weary wandering or swarming bees still be perceived even if these (sound) events take place in an unknown language?

Georg Sachse, sprechbohrer ensemble member

The Poets’ SoundsCreating and Presenting New Works of Speech-Music Literature emerges from the boundary between literature and New Music – an aesthetic realm which has hardly been explored until now. In cooperation with the Cologne-based speech art trio sprechbohrer the Lettrétage literary center commissioned six international authors to explore this intersection. During the project, each author composed one speech-music piece for three voices, which were musically interpreted and performed by the sprechbohrer ensemble. This artistic work was supported by three production workshops in which the authors and musicians explore their respective approaches and impulses, the potential of the voice as an instrument, the tonal spectrum of speech, and questions of notation. The newly created pieces, performed by the sprechbohrer ensemble, premiered at a concert in Berlin, before they were presented to audiences at literary festivals within Germany and abroad.

The question of how literature can be produced and presented in a transdisciplinary way is one that the Lettrétage has pursued through various projects in recent years. The Literaturlabor (2011-13), the international SOUNDOUT Festival (2014), the CON_TEXT event series (2017), and the PoetryAudioLab (2019) invited authors and artists from different disciplines to develop new forms and formats. The projects often featured collaborative settings and offered the artists involved the opportunity to reflect on and newly define their work, concepts of authorship, audience, reception, participation, and not least their own role as producers of art and literature.