PNEUMA: Polish Radio Experimental Studio

“Suddenly... I held the sound in my hand.” This is how Eugeniusz Rudnik recalls the moment when he discovered the magic of the analogue electronic music studio in Zuzanna Solakiewicz’s documentary The 15 Directions of the World. However, that kind of photographic, static presentation of magnetic phenomena on a reel tape was only the first step into the world of experimental music. The real challenge came with attempts to bring to life sounds newly created in the laboratory. The first inspiration was as obvious as it was paradoxical. It came from the most primeval, vocal roots of music, as well as the choral archetype of the Western tradition. Krzysztof Penderecki was the first to venture into the world of metachoral studio-produced music with his Psalmus of 1961. He was followed by, among others, Bogusław Schaeffer, Włodzimierz Kotoński, Krzesimir Dębski and, last but not least, Paweł Szymański. The cinema proved to be an equally natural point of reference. Eugeniusz Rudnik largely based his works on avant-garde experiments with film editing. He also discovered analogies to his own aspirations and aims in the achievements of the masters of graphic modernism, in particular Katarzyna Kobro, whose Spatial Compositions he illustrated with sound in the film by Józef Robakowski, and represented by means of sounds only in his own piece, Mobile

Have the compositions of the pioneers of Polish experimental music stood the test of time? Can they still inspire present-day audiences with a refreshing gust of the archaic element? Or have they become mere analogue mummies? 

Michał Mendyk