Deep Dive

Deep Dive | Hermann Buhler bcl, g, elec | Hermann Bühler (

Living near the alpes in the heart of Europe I don’t have many experiences concerned with whales. But I was deeply impressed by the CD „Songs of the Humpback Whale“ featuring recordings of Roger Payne from 1970. I also read some studies that were interpreting the songs as signals and communication between the whales. The deep sea suddenly appeared as a world of sound and active live.
The whale songs were a challenge and I wanted to understand the phenomena of whale songs from an aesthetic point of view. As we and the whales are part of nature, I think that we both have a certain common ground that cannot described through words. On an enigmatic field of sound, the whales might communicate with us. As we certainly are being perceived by them, we might even be a subject of their songs.
As an improvising artist I react on momentarily happening incidences around me by producing sounds. In a state of awareness and quick reaction I tune myself to a particular sonar field – to recordings or to the playing of fellow musicians – by playing my instrument. I wanted to combine my improvisations with a imaginative sound world of a whale diving into the deep sea. That’s why I called my piece „Deep Dive“.
I chose the bass clarinet for my improvisations. The bass clarinet is basically a big pipe and by playing low tones I can produce a vaste variety of natural overtones. The whale sounds are based on the natural overtone scale as well. I played along the repetitive rhythms, sounds and movements of the Yubarta songs and recorded an improvised 45-minutes-set for bass clarinet solo. From these recordings I took a short section, starting by creating overtones, fading the sounds to little squeaks and returning with an energetic coda. I surrounded the bass clarinet by ambiguous layers of string sounds, accompanyed by a drum, symbolizing the heart of the whale. This minimal acoustic carpet takes slowly over the bass clarinet, leaving space to a wall of sound, symbol for the dangerous world of the deep sea – maybe the last unknown place beyond a human approach. The return of the bass clarinet in the coda could be compared to the whale’s fin that suddenly rips the surface of the sea.


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