Gerhard Rühm’s radiophonic poetry
in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
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Gerhard Rühm's radio plays, created over a period of sixty years, show consistent characteristics. They conform to the basic impulse of the neo-avant-garde insofar as Rühm refuses to regard fiction as a naive representation of reality. His first radio play (written with Konrad Bayer in 1958) already breaks open conventional logical-grammatical and especially psychological-causal contexts, leading to the release of individual linguistic elements through language play. As the chapter demonstrates, Rühm's radiophonic works since 1968 have used the methods of linguistic reduction and abstraction to bring out the acoustic values of the linguistic material in a new and intensified way. This results in a constant bidirectional border crossing between music and language. The interaction of various acoustic phenomena and messages opens up possibilities of sensual insight beyond what can be experienced in empirical and discursive ways. However, the chapter is directed against the view that Rühm's radio plays are asemantic, for semantics are by no means extinguished in these works. On the contrary, they gain urgency through the formal procedures applied. Semantic meanings do not result from causal or final contexts, but crystallise out of net-like fields of association.

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde

Experimental radio plays in the postwar period

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