ABC Studios in Chicago as seen from the street through glass wall, inspiration for JacobTV's THE NEWS
JACOBTV: THE NEWS
a video opera
THE NEWS is a nonfiction video opera in which language, music, and visuals are equally important, a topical form of Gesammtkunstwerk, entirely based on ready-made footage from the international media: “revealing” one-liners from anchor men and women, politicians, scientists, reverends, sportsmen, movie stars, celebrities, and what have you, discussing global warming, the credit crunch, religion, matters of war and peace and trivialities.
THE NEWS is entirely based on the technique of speech melody. The melody of speech from every day life, as developed in the early 80s by Scott Johnson and made famous by Steve Reich is also the leitmotif in many of JacobTV’s works. Ordinary speech has hidden musical qualities and becomes “singing” when you add a musical accompaniment to it.
Language is an important element in THE NEWS: by manipulating the spoken word, one creates new realities, like in poetry. The music is accompanied by rhythmical text animations. By zooming in on the voices and faces of talking heads on television, the opera zooms in on the meaning of words and thoughts and on feelings of today. Nowadays, almost everything on TV, even the most serious news, seems to have become entertainment, manipulated and endlessly repeated with great excitement. What to believe from these “puppet shows”? Luckily, in the midst of all this predictability there are also unexpected moments of great beauty, moments that make television still very interesting, and that is what THE NEWS is about.
Jacob ter Veldhuis a.k.a. JacobTV
The search for authentic emotion is the driving force behind JacobTV’s music. His works based on speech melody are the result of empathetic projection. At the same time, the pieces reflect the absurdity of television-culture, transmitting ordinary people’s most intimate confessions to an audience of millions. But the field of tension between sympathy and revulsion remains purposely unresolved, because JacobTV is capable of reflecting both: the fascination with the connection between rough language and American popmusic styles, as well as the disgust at a merciless emphasizing of impulsive utterances, by minimalistic repetition and musicalization.... Here it becomes clear how near to artists like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons the composer JacobTV actually is. Though inspired in his technique by Steve Reich, he takes completely different directions in substance; he explores the common ground between Andy Warhol’s pop-art and the minimal art of the ‘60’s. In this regard, JacobTV’s music, in which mass-culture is both admired and put in perspective, are like a late form of musical pop-art.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Weiss, Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hannover.
THE NEWS is a radical statement, controversial, shameless and moralizing. Apart from the conclusion, that images and music are extremely fascinating, the piece and its performance are penetrating and confronting. THE NEWS is like a roller coaster ride, leaving you confused and dazed after you’ve reached the end. While I watched and listened, my thoughts went back to an article in the Chicago Tribune of 1922:
“Moral disaster is coming to hundreds of young American girls through the pathological, nerve-irritating, sex-exciting music of jazz orchestras, according to the Illinois Vigilance Association.”
A warning about the moral implications of jazz in those days. Also the work of JacobTV shows, 90 years on, a similar moral dimension. This is jazz that’s invasive and intriguing to the bone....
Frank Huser, Jazz Flits
The scene of the action on stage is a “television studio” where different times and places come together. Two singers represent an anchorman and an anchorwoman who, live on camera, perform interactive duets with the spoken word from the talking heads on 3 huge projection screens behind the ensemble, a triptych like a mediaeval altar piece, involving both visual and audible symmetry and mirroring, adding responsorial chanting, canonic panorama effects etcetera.
The role of music is crucial here of course, because music can express “the indescribable.” The grooving arias, sentimental chorales, recitatives, and funky divertimenti are written in an accessible hedonistic post-minimal avant-pop style that JacobTV is known for.
JacobTV liveThe score is flexible and will consist of a standard version for about 15 musicians and 4 technicians, including the composer as DJ and video artist Jan Boiten as VJ.
The standard duration will be a little over an hour, without intermission, but can be expanded to an evening-length production, as the piece consists of several “scenes”, as Stockhausen did with his opera Licht.
THE NEWS is an opera that will always have to remain unfinished as the news never stops! And so we will constantly update the piece, depending on world events and trivialities that are striking enough to out them to music.
The band will be a mixture of a jazz band, a rock band, and a classical ensemble and will include jazz musicians for improvisations.
JacobTV: DJ - music, lyrics, samples, artistic manager
Jan Boiten: VJ - scenography, videos, lighting
Kristien Kerstens: videos
JacobTV THE NEWS presentation on Dutch TV 27-01-2011 (De Wereld Draait Door)