Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck

© Sina Lynn Sachse


Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck (1939) is living as a writer and improvising musician in Zurich, Switzerland. She worked as an architect and later on also as a sociologist and psychologist.
She has published prose and poetry, realising projects together with improvising musicians and composers and performing as a writer and as an improvising musician (piano, guitar, text; workshops with Derek Bailey, Barre Philipps, Vinko Globokar, Peter K Frey, Christian Wolff, Maggy Nichols, Katia Olivia, Marianne Ambresin) member of bunte hörschlaufen: Helen Geissberger (va), Brigitte Meyer (vcl), Beni Rüdisüli (v), Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck (p, g, text). www.wandelerdeck.ch

Recent publications: DAS HEIMWEH DER MEERESSCHILDKRÖTEN, (prose) Berne 2015; ARIOSO – ARCHIVE DES ZUKOMMENS, (poetry) Wienna 2016; VISBY INFRA-ORDINAIRE, (mixed forms) Berne 2018; TAGUMATAGKAIRO (photography combined with poetry) Zurich 2019; ATTACCA HOLDRIO (poetry) Zurich 2020

Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck: ricochet rikoschett / eine ungefähre passacaglia möglicherweise
By Florian Neuner

Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck bases her new piece, “ricochet rikoschett/ an approximate passacaglia, possibly” on an underlying musical form. A “passacaglia” is a series of variations developed over a bass ostinato in a three-meter range. Originally a Spanish folk dance, the passacaglia established itself in Italian music in the 17th century and has been repeatedly taken up to the present day. As references, Wandeler-Deck also cites György Ligeti’s Passacaglia ungherese for harpsichord and Robert Pinget’s book Passacaille, which – with its refrain-like structure – already represented an attempt to adapt this musical form in literature. However, the attribute “approximately” and the trailing “possibly” in the title also suggest that the rendering into the medium of literature cannot be a direct, unbroken one. Wandeler-Deck picks up on the triple rhythm by underlaying the piece with a pulse of steps/passi, which works with “language quanta” (Wolfram Malte Fues) consisting of a maximum of three letters extracted from poems. “Passacaglia” is derived from the Spanish “pasar la calle” (crossing the street). The attempt to create linguistic echoes, as can be heard in the streets of Venice, is another structural approach in ricochet / rikoschett.

Excerpt from the score ricochet rikoschett / eine ungefähre passacaglia möglicherweise by Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck

The author sees the challenge in not simply repeating texts in an echo, but “bringing them into a different resonance.” With her first piece for sprechborer entitled “Das a. Das i. Was kann der Umlaut.” (2017), she emphatically noted: “Not a radio play!! Not a theatre text!!! But a speaking score.” Three parameters are noted: pitch (dynamics and expression), sound formation (for example, “sighing”) and speech posture (for example, “hopeless, even?”). At one point, the slowly progressing linguistic music is interrupted by contrasting, unstructured “talk.” Hans-Wolfgang Schaffnit writes in his book Das Gerede. Zum Problem der Krise unseres Redens (Speech. On the problem of the crisis of our speech), which inspired Wandeler-Deck: “We have generated speech, we’re keeping it going.” Composed linguistic music, as becomes clear here, can and seeks to counteract “speech,” or “talk,” with something else. Like a composer working with her own texts, Elisabeth Wandeler-Deck uses textual material from her poems in her passacaglia, invoking the story of Echo and Narcissus.