Composer Profile: Annette Krebs

Annette Krebs
Annette Krebs


Annette Krebs has been connected with music since her childhood. She studied music at “Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst” in Frankfurt/Main and finished her studies 1992 with the diploma. At the same time, she worked in painting.

Since 1993 she has lived in Berlin and developed her own musical vocabulary.  She works within the field of electroacoustic music, using tones, noises, field-recordings, silences and language to create acoustic collages and sculptures.  She composes music for loudspeakers, which are played live and independently from each other. The concert space itself is often integrated in the composition.  In various duos and ensembles, she collaborates with musicians, composers, performers and visual artists.

She has performed in numerous festivals in Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan, including Donaueschinger Musiktage (D), Amplify (USA), Vancouver New Music (CA), Exposition of New Music, Ostrava Days (CZ), Sonoric Perspectives (SE), Musique Action (FR), LMC-Festival (UK), Dublin Electronic Arts Festival DEAF (IE), Nous Sons (ES), Musique Actuelle (CA), What is Music (AU), Festival International de Música Contemporánea de Alicante (ES).

annette krebs by yuko zama


[Translations by Reesha Leone.]

What is your earliest musical memory that, in looking back, has proved to be significant regarding your career as a composer?

As a small child, I was already very fascinated and affected by any kind of music I heard.  I was also delighted by the many sounds and noises I could create on my own.  I felt great fulfillment from hearing and imitating all sorts of music, from improvising and playing, and from my first compositions.  All these were important sources of inspiration which I still remember well today.

Are there composers who have been influential or relevant regarding your own work?  Has this changed over time?

I have been mainly inspired and influenced by Baroque polyphony, especially the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, some works of contemporary visual art, and by all of the musicians and artists with whom I have collaborated to date.

Would you mind speaking a little concerning your working process, i.e., do you have a regular schedule for writing; do you use a computer for composing (either for creating pre-composition materials or notation), if so, do you find that it inhibits your process?  What other technology, if any, do you use?

My compositions are based on abstract ideas and inspirations, difficult to explain in words, which I  initially outline and roughly capture with sketches, drawings, pictures and poetic imagery. 

At the beginning of a composition, I often write a short draft score that I record and analyze. For that I use editing software such as ProTools or Logic.  In parallel with that, I improvise with some of the noise and sound materials that I plan to integrate within the composition: In this manner, spontaneous occurrences or even (happy) accidents emerge as additional beneficial sources of inspiration.  I will take these improvisations, analyze them and extract interesting sections or pieces of the material. 

Some of these sections I state more precisely, and based on them, develop new draft scores, or discover and define new sound-mixtures, which I subsequently record and analyze again. Additional musical questions and ideas, arising from these discoveries, are further refined during the process. 

Several of the sound samples I load into specifically programmed MaxMSP patches, in order to experiment with random arrangements that I would not obtain otherwise through composing, constructing or playing.  Until now, I have discarded the results of these experiments, though I have found them to be interesting, if only as a testing ground. 

For me it is important, and stimulating, to approach a musical vision with the help of several techniques and working methods.  In my experience, different compositional, instrumental and digital approaches influence my thinking and hence, the composition, in different ways.  Through the alternating use of various approaches and techniques, I seek to stay as independent as possible from providing musical resolutions to problems that specific techniques or programs provoke. 

The finished piece is always a filtration of the entire composition process described above.  When I am done, I end up discarding a lot.  However, I think that the discarded parts are an important component of the piece, since they form an invisible foundation for the final product.  I reduce initial ideas and problems to their principles and essences during the composing process and wish to avoid unnecessary musical results which are decorative or inspired purely from technology. 

I perceive my approach to composing as somewhat related to a “sound sculptor”; one who carves out of initially raw, coarse and diverse material (first ideas, drafts and sketches) arriving at a distilled composition.

annette krebs by theresa iten

Please describe a recent work and provide a link to an audio clip. 

Unfortunately, I cannot attach an audio clip of my latest composition, because the CD on which it appeared was recently released on the label Another Timbre.  Also, especially in recent years, I  have worked with music for more than 2 speakers and room resonances, which a stereo clip cannot satisfactorily transmit.   

Therefore, I am sending several links that document my latest works in various ways:

1.  rush! (trailer)


2. blikk


3. Konzert für 4- 6 Lautsprecher





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