experimental music: ‘Experimental music’ is a music that is disconnected from any traditional idiom, and instead relies on an individual artistic procedure model.
non-representational art: ‘Non-represenational art’ is an art that is disconnected from the visual world, and instead structured by intellectual terms.
graphical and verbal scores: A grapical score is an abstract graphical work, designed to support an experimental musical process; wherby the graphic is not supposed to illustrate a desired musical outcome, but serves as a basis for an intellectual investment. A verbal score describes either a sound imagination, or a musical activity by means of language.
Nikolaus Gerszewski is a german composer, teacher and concert organizer of experimental music, currently based in Budapest.
Born in Hamburg, he studied visual arts at Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg and Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, in the 1980s. He had been involved in non-representational art, before he changed to the medium of sound; as a consequence of a dematerialization process of the art object.
His compositional work investigates a music that is basically notional; whereby the factual sound has the main function to trigger and maintain a condition of high concentration within the listener.
Since 2013, Nikolaus has been teaching conceptual soundproduction at the university of fine arts, Budapest (MKE), and the university of science, Pecs (PTE). In his classes he introduces mainly graphical and verbal scores, on the basis of which the participants are encouraged to develop their own musical ideas; by means of both acoustic and electronic sound sources.
In 2004, at the age of fourty, Nikolaus finally decided to become a composer, and started to learn sheet music. When a friend introduced him to Cornelius Cardew’s groundbreaking graphic score ‘Treatise’, he joined the ensemble serve music, who developed an interpretation of this work, over a one-year period. Parallel to this, he developed his own forms of graphic notation and alternative sign systems. In 2006 his first composition expressis verbis, a verbal score, was performed by the ensemble Nelly Boyd. In the same year, he founded the concert series Forum Neue Musik, together with Milo Lohse, at Christianskirche Hamburg, where for the following five years he presented international luminaries of experimental music (ia. Peter Ablinger, Sven Åke Johansson, Keith Rowe, John Tilbury, Christian Wolff, Janos Negyessy, Eugene Chadbourne, Alvin Curran, Phil Corner, Chris Newman). Meanwhile his own music started being performed in Europe and the United States. In 2011 his ensemble work kodam gobar, based on a poem by the iranian poet Fereydoon Moshiri, was awarded first price at Hamburger Klangwerktage, and performed by work in progress Berlin. The work is written in a semi-determinate notation; the performers have to develop their own pitch progression, within given limits, while other parameters are fixed.
In 2008, Nikolaus introduced his own generic term ‘ordinary music’, expressing his view, that making music should not be reserved to the realms of art and entertainment, but rather be a natural part of everyday life, in the same way as language is. He wrote several semi-improvisational works, to be performed by musical illiterates. However the term ‘ordinary music’ is not simply reserved for non-professional performances, but even indicates a music that fails to fit into categories as ‘contemporary classical’ or ‘New Music’; it certainly matches the criteria of ‘experimental music’, however ‘experimental’ is not a musical genre, but rather an approach.
Since 2014 Nikolaus writes mainly microtonal music; actually in a tempered sixth-tone system. While his former works had involved chance operations, he recently prefers to apply basic serial principles.