Nachtsicht II

for orchestra
optional with narrator and/or live electronics,

16 min
Text: Frank Schablewski
Edition Juliane Klein


  • first performance, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, Johannes Kalizke (conductor), Theaterhaus Stuttgart, Eclat Festival 08.2.2014
  • first performance short version, Jugendsinfonieorchester der Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Ernst von Marschall (conductor), Tonhalle Düsseldorf, 22./26.2.2012

programme note

„Nachtsicht” (English: „Nightsight”) was born from the collaboration of the composer Peter Gahn with the writer Frank Schablewski, the painter Jina Park and the pianist Jan Gerdes about the theme urban night.

The sounds of urban traffic noise at night, sometimes footsteps and hardly-heard parts of conversations of night walkers, trains and cars over and under large bridges and tunnels, appearing suddenly or are triggered by sounds of brush strokes. Sounds of individual brush strokes are enlarged acoustically. Huge canvas stretched through the whole space are beaten or brushed.

Sounds from a painter's studio with open windows in the centre of the city, mixed with sounds of the beaten long tubes of this studio's heater of this studio and a plucked, beaten and brush stroked e-bass. These urban night sounds are extended to more abstract sounds, generated by beaten, and brushed virtual canvases, meter-long e-bass strings and parts of a steel bridge.

The calm rhythm of foot steps in the night and the rhythm of applying the paint on the canvas, caused by the rhythm of relaxed breathing, the vibration frequency of the body, the length and direction of the brushstrokes and the viscosity of oil paint - with minor pauses to take the paint to the brush and larger breaks for mixing the colour and examen the strokes of the painting - control the rhythm of electronic and instrumental sounds. This slow, slightly irregular pulsating rhythms appear in sequence, side by side in different-sized parts, sometimes more or less slowed down or accelerated in the time course of the piece.

The strong calm silence of Park's paintings is opened by the acoustic sound of brush strokes towards a larger space and a new dimension. Searching for a music with a transparent black, Gahn found in Park's paintings adequate surroundings. Performances and installations with other visual arts works and spaces will create further interdependence, new spaces, sounds and images.

The text of Frank Schablewskis opens aesthetically, semantically, rhythmically and in the aspect of sound another perspective. Notes of Schablewski during the field recordings of the urban night were developed side by side with the music composition towards a text composition. The sound composition of the vowels and consonants refers subtly to the sound world of the urban night, and the electronic composition. The rhythm of isolated words and small phrases let sometimes guess directions, or build loose groups of regular pulses.

These world of sounds and the resulting music built up the base for the orchestra piece. New sounds, combinations and movements through the orchestra space were developed in collaboration with the youth symphony orchestra of the Tonhalle Düsseldorf. A lot of the resulting sounds consists mainly of several kinds of noise. These noisy parts of the sounds are usually more in the background and percieved unconsciously, but they are also responsible for indiviudal sound character of each instrument. Each instrument has its own beauty also in the shadow side, the night side of its sounds. The body, the shape of the instrumemts become audible. Between this noisy sounds from time to time rich colours shows up . Deep or high pitch sounds, short chords and more or less bigger complexes of sounds are loosly connected and could be perceived as very slow polyphonic melodies.