Sunday March 23


  • 11.00 – 12.30   Introduction of the day’s program by Mark Beasley, The Further Adventures of Parlando, Melisma and the Cookie Monster: A brief history of unique singing techniques – Mark Beasley, Stripsody – Gelsey Bell, The Grindcore Voice – Nicholas Bullen
  • 13.00 – 15.00   Introduction to Extended Vocal Technique – Gelsey Bell, Breach – Nicholas Bullen, Susanne Oberbeck (No Bra)
  • 15.15 – 16.45   Love Is A Good Example  –  Gelsey Bell, Circular Song, Solitary Journeys of the Mind and Windows – Joan La Barbara, Place (mauser 2) – Antoine Beuger and This is a voice – Samuel Vriezen –  performed by Grand Rietveld Choir

Attendance to the final session of the day (15.15 – 17.30) is FREE to all public.

EXPO ZAAL 11.00 – 16.45
Must a song always be a song!
Curated and presented by Mark Beasley

With contributions by Joan La Barbara, Nicholas Bullen (Napalm Death, Scorn), Susanne Oberbeck (No Bra), Gelsey Bell and curator Mark Beasley. Dedicated to Robert Ashley.

Must a song always be a song! presents four British and American vocalists, performers and composers, each with a unique professional history and a unique relationship with vocal composition and Extended Vocal Technique, ranging from the popular to the avant-garde. EVT – also known as Extra Normal Vocals – is the study and categorisation of radical singing techniques, or in short: odd mouth sounds.


11.00 – 12.30
The first session will include an introduction and listening session with curator Mark Beasley, who will talk through and play back key pieces of music that trace the history of EVT and unique singing practices from Thracian folk music to Houston’s DJ Screw.

Musician and scholar Gelsey Bell will then present Stripsody, a key work by vocalist Cathy Berberian. The piece is significant as she is both performer and composer, and because it is one of the first picture scores. In place of staff notation it is presented in the form of a series of comic strip images, from screeching cats to police car sirens.

To close the first session Nicholas Bullen, musician, composer and founder of the Grindcore and early anarcho-punk band Napalm Death will discuss the evolution and DNA of the death growl. The death growl – also known as death metal vocals, death grunts, growled vocals, unclean vocals, deadly howls, harsh vocals and jocularly as Cookie Monster vocals – attempt to evoke chaos, death and misery by being in general very deep, guttural and unintelligible.

30 min BREAK
Between sessions Gelsey Bell will perform Bathroom Songs (2009).
Bathroom Songs uses the voice to explore the physical and poetic reverberations of individual bathrooms. Using extended vocal techniques and the singing of little ditties to make public the private meditations that the bathroom allows space for, the piece for a solo voice is a conglomeration of songs and activities re-shuffled for each new performance and unique bathroom.” Presented in the female bathrooms.

13.00 – 15.00
The session will begin with an introduction to Extended Vocal Technique by Gelsey Bell, which will cover techniques ranging from ululation to vocal fry and glottal stop. Bell will break down each technique and demonstrate through collaged audio examples the physical material quality of the extended voice as it appears in folk, classical and pop music. The program will continue with a vocal performance by Susanne Oberbeck (No Bra).

Finally Nicholas Bullen will present Breach (2014), a piece for vocal improvisation and electronics that includes passages of broken speech, sine waves (made by the voice), sudden interjections, quiet passages of almost sub-vocal speech, and harsh noise.

15 min BREAK
Bathroom Songs (2009), Gelsey Bell. Presented in the male bathrooms.

15.15 – 16.45
In honour of the late Robert Ashley, Gelsey Bell will perform Love Is A Good Example (1995). Robert Ashley was a distinguished figure in American contemporary music who gained an international reputation with his work with new forms of opera and multi-disciplinary projects. His recorded works are acknowledged classics of language in a musical setting.

Musician and composer Joan La Barbara will perform Circular Song (1974), Solitary Journeys of the Mind (2009) and Windows (2013). Circular Song is one of La Barbara’s earliest works, focussing on “circular singing” (ingressive/egressive vocalising). It is clearly a process piece as well as one influenced by conceptual art. Solitary Journeys of the Mind explores real-time composition, while Windows is part of an opera in progress, inspired by the works and dream fragments of sculptor Joseph Cornell, as well as the flow of Virginia Woolf’s writings and the curvilinear architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudì.

Directly following the performance by Joan La Barbara, VOICE ~ CREATURE OF TRANSITION will be brought to a close with the first public performance by the Grand Rietveld Choir, which will present two works under the leadership of Samuel Vriezen:
Place (mauser 2) by Antoine Beuger and This is a voice by Samuel Vriezen (world premiere).

During this concert more than a hundred first year students of the Rietveld Academie will demonstrate, in a variety of ways, how their unique voices can form a vocal community. In Place, inspired by Emily Dickinson, the choir in the end refers most of all to the place where it is situated. In This is a voice, Samuel Vriezen employs simple musical structures as a springboard for the individual voices, so that they can contribute their singular texture to the “voice” of the whole choir.

Attendance to the final session of the day (15.15 – 17.30) is FREE to all public.


Mark Beasley is a curator, writer and artist based in New York. He is currently curator at Performa. He recently curated a programme in conjunction with the retrospective exhibition of Mike Kelley’s work at MoMA PS1, New York, which included Michael Smith, X-TG, Kim Gordon and Jutta Koether. Other projects include Florian Hecker: C.D.: A Script For Synthesis at the Guggenheim Museum and Frances Stark and Mark Leckey’s Put A Song In Your Thing at Abrons Theater. He writes for Frieze, E-Flux and The Serving Library and has contributed to many artists’ catalogues. His first LP With Big Legs will be released in 2014 on Junior Aspirin Records.

Composer/performer Joan La Barbara is renowned for her unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques (her “signature sounds” include multiphonics, circular singing, ululation, and glottal clicks), which have influenced generations of composers and singers. Awards and prizes include Premio Internazionale “Demetrio Stratos”; Civitella Ranieri, Guggenheim and 7 NEA Fellowships; numerous commissions for chamber ensembles, theatre, orchestra, chorus, interactive technology and soundscores for dance, video and film including an electronic/vocal score for Sesame Street. La Barbara teaches music composition at NYU and is currently composing a new opera.

Nicholas Bullen is an artist, writer and composer based in Birmingham, England. Employing a range of media (including sound, text, film, installation and performance), his work explores strategies for the transmutation of elements and systems of communication, with a particular focus on the use of sound and the voice as material. During more than thirty years of composition and live performance (both solo and collaboratively), his work has been performed or exhibited in the United Kingdom (including Tate Britain, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Hayward Gallery) and globally (including Art Basel, White Columns, and Creative Time).

Gelsey Bell is a singer, songwriter, and scholar whose work has received international acclaim. She has released multiple albums including SCALING live at Roulette (2012), In Place of Arms (2010) and Under the Piano (2005). She is a core member of ensemble thingNY and performance collective Varispeed, and has worked with numerous artists in the creation of new work including Robert Ashley, Matthew Barney and John King, among others. Bell is also an ABD doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at New York University and the Critical Acts co-editor for TDR/The Drama Review.

Samuel Vriezen is an Amsterdam-based composer who haswritten many works for chamber ensembles that have been performed worldwide. Vriezen’s work shows an interest in non-standard ways of organizing performer coordination and interaction and in exploring the panoramic contrapuntal possibilities that such methods of ensemble playing give. Vriezen is also a poet and a pianist. His writing (including poetry, translations and essays) has been published in many literary journals. Together with Dante Boon, Vriezen produced the CD recording of Tom Johnson’s Symmetries on Karnatic Lab Records.

Forming No Bra whilst living in East London, Susanne Oberbeck has since moved to New York, where she recorded part of her new album Candy – released this year on the Address label – with NYC based musicians. She runs a night in NYC called Gay Vinyl, toured the US with Savages and in December completed a residency at East London’s Vogue Fabrics. No Bra’s debut single Munchausen was BBC Radio DJ Pete Tong’s “Eclectic Tune of 2005” and James Hyman’s “Tune of the Year 2005” and was described as essentially the London art-school answer to “Losing My Edge’s” Williamsburg smack down. Her music has been described as beat driven messthetics coupled with Sprechstimme, speak-singing poetry fuelled by the desire to “smash kyriarchy and turn gender on its head.” Writer and musician Johanna Fateman listed No Bra as “Best of 2013” in Art Forum’s round up of last year.