Press release, Oct 26, 2020

The Disappearance of Music

The New Alphabet | The Disappearance of Music

Concerts, talks, installations, films
Nov 13–15, 2020

Concerts: 13€/10€
Talks, films, installations: free admission

All talks held in English

Video series: Until fall of 2020

Is music conceivable without musicians, instruments and recordings? With sound and discourse, the festival at Haus der Kulturen der Welt revolves around how the production of music is changing – as it celebrates how the world sounds today.

“Traditional” instruments are becoming less and less important, it’s now possible to produce professional tracks even on a smartphone and software tools like auto-tune are changing our listening habits. Records and tapes are merely memories. In concerts, talks, installations and films, the music festival The Disappearance of Music will make these changes tangible for the audience.

Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma (“Mouse on Mars”) bring the sounds of four artists from different locations in the US into harmony via video conference in a jam session mixed in real time that integrates the fallacies of contemporary video communication in improvisation practice. Multimedia artist Olivia Block contributes found and electronic sounds from Chicago, while theorist DeForrest Brown Jr., also known as Speaker Music, operates the sampler in New York City. The multimedia artist and programmer Adi Gelbart works with a lyric writing machine called Alpha. Together with the string quartet of the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Gelbart will interpret Alpha's poems in a concert for strings, speech synthesis and electronics.

The artists Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst invite Frances Stonor Saunders to a live recording of their Interdependence podcast. Among other topics, they discuss the relationships between the CIA and intellectual movements during the post-war era and how they coincided with the promotion of avant-garde music.

Maria Eriksson (Humlab, Umeå University) took apart the streaming service Spotify with the help of a Swedish research team and reverse engineering in order to uncover its inner workings. During the panel discussion Soundtracking Every Moment: Music as Data, she and other guests will talk about how streaming services and the platform economy are changing the music world. The panel discussion Looking at Music: After the Laptop Performance asks what visual forms of expression stage shows can have when music is created entirely on the computer.

Dmitry Morozov – under the name ::vtol:: – presents the sound installation destructor, which records music and radio noise on a looped tape while simultaneously exposing it to electromagnetic radiation that disrupts or destroys the sound. The Interspecifics collective founded in Mexico City presents the Recurrent Morphing Radio, a system that is trained daily with music. After extracting and restructuring the music’s features, it generates new sounds from it. The performance Hauch on the roof terrace of HKW investigates the voice as an anchor of identity while contrasting the performers’ bodies with post-dystopian environments.

With his documentary Unplugged, director Mladen Kovačević explores the tradition of leaf-playing, music made with natural means in rural Serbia thus answering the question: What would happen if the power shut off and music were silenced?

The Covid-19 pandemic has given the changed music experience an additional boost. In the run-up to the festival, a video series has been showing how musicians are using the current restrictions productively.

Festival with concerts by s t a r g a z e, Andi Toma & Jan St. Werner (Mouse on Mars), Olivia Block, DeForrest Brown Jr., Forbes Graham, Bonnie Jones, George Lewis, Adi Gelbart & KNM; lectures and installations by Holly Herndon & Mat Dryhurst, Agnès Gayraud, Interspecifics and many others
Video series with contributions from Lucrecia Dalt, Barbara Morgenstern, Matias Aguayo, Lamin Fofana, Tellavision, Eblis Álvarez (Meridian Brothers) and many others

The festival and video series are curated by Zuri Maria Daiß and Detlef Diederichsen.

The full program can be found at

Limited seating according to the latest COVID-19 regulations. For important information about your visit, go to

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Hauch is supported by Musik der Jahrhunderte and the Electronic Studio of the Akademie der Künste.
Escape from America [Total Recall] in cooperation with Non-Event and the Goethe-Institut.
Part of The New Alphabet (2019-2021), supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.

Press contacts:
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Jan Trautmann
Head of Press and PR
+49 (0)30 397 87 192

Guido Möbius