We've updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.


Recorded on 22nd February 2008, at Goethe Institut Lissabon, Lisbon, Portugal.
Recorded by Pedro Castello-Lopes and Carlos Santos.
Mastered by Ernesto Rodrigues and Diogo Tavares.
Graphic design by Carlos Santos.
Production by Ernesto Rodrigues.

Music as non-representational art: ordinary music

Nikolaus Gerszewski has been writing music as an autodidact since 2003. In 2007, he developed an individual form of notation for his “Ordinary Music”. Formerly, he had worked as a visual artist and art critic. His interest was focussed on different kinds of so-called “abstract”, “concrete” or “non-representational” painting: informal, constructivism, abstract expressionism, radical painting, minimal art, lyrical abstraction, action painting and optical art. It was this kind of art that had a decisive influence on New York contemporary music of the 50s and 60s. Similar to New York School music, “Ordinary Music” can be described as a continuation of abstract visual thinking by means of sound, a kind of “sound painting”: music appearing in terms of “sound spaces”, “sound surfaces”, “sound layers” or “sound objects”.
This change in musical comprehension - from an art form developed within time to one unfolded within space - required its equivalent in terms of notation. The score of “Ordinary Music Vol.3” visualizes a possible simultaneity of sound events, to be combined (put in sequence, layered, intermingled) in real time by the players: an ad-hoc composition with predetermined material.
The material: slides, tremoli, harmonics, held tones, patterns, distortions, beating waves or noises (white noise, knocking, whistling etc.) noted in diagrams - partly as sound descriptions, partly as technical instructions - can be performed by musical laymen just as well as by professional musicians. In the instructions it says: “It might take some rehearsal to acquire the perceptiveness it takes, but in principal there are no preconditions regarding musical education”.
Nikolaus Gerszewski has studied and performed scores by Cage (Four6), Cardew (Treatise) and Christian Wolff (Edges, Prose Collection). The decisive impulse, however, came from an entirely different direction: “Since October 2007, I have been visiting a Yoga class. The experience of how to change the body perception by breathing, muscle straining and ankle stretching brought me the idea of creating music that consists in the most basic exercises: for the fingers, the wrist, the shoulder, the ear, the breath, the concentration or the coordination.” For the listener, “Ordinary Music” becomes accessible through a mental tracing of the sound surface. Just like the spectator of a De Kooning painting could recall the creative act by tracing the brush strokes. “Ordinary Music” wants to make the composition process audible. Its performance is understood as a process of collective searching. And the music unfolds as if by coincidence.
The premiere of “Ordinary Music Vol.3” in Lisbon took place without any advance rehearsal; there was only a short discussion right before the concert.

Karl Messer
released March 17, 2008


released November 16, 2018

Nikolaus Gerszewski - Violin
Ernesto Rodrigues - Viola
Guilherme Rodrigues - Cello
Hernâni Faustino - Double Bass


all rights reserved



Guilherme Rodrigues Berlin, Germany

Guilherme Rodrigues is a cellist, improviser and composer from Lisboa, Portugal.
He was born in 1988 in Lisboa and started to learn cello and trumpet when he was seven at Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa and later in Conservatório Nacional de Música de Lisboa to study classical and music theory until his twenty-three. With an intuitive approach to improvisation and exploration of the timbres... ... more

contact / help

Contact Guilherme Rodrigues

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Ordinary Music Vol. 3, you may also like: