Sound poetry

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Hugo Ball's poem Karawane (1917), typography of the first publication, 1920

Sound poetry (also acoustic or phonetic poetry or poetry ) is a genre of modern poetry that completely or to a considerable extent dispenses with linguistic meaning. Analogous to abstract painting , sound poetry tries to use language not in a portrayal or content-related function, but purely formally as sound material. The lyric thus consistently approaches the music - to the extent that semantics disappear and the sound comes to the fore.


Forerunners of sound poetry can already be found in the literature of Roman antiquity, the Middle Ages and then especially the Baroque (e.g. Johann Klaj , see below). What all these forerunners have in common, however, is that they either play off the linguistic sound against the still recognizable sense of the word (in order to create parodistic or purely comic effects), or that they are isolated stylistic exercises (especially in the literature of the late Middle Ages) in which a poet uses a largely meaningless sample to demonstrate how virtuously he masters the formal registers of poetry.

These forerunners were radicalized at the end of the 19th century by symbolism , whose poets, with playful language and aiming for euphoria, often left behind a sense of the word in their poems, which, however, was often so hermetic or banal that the mannerist form and Loud value came to the fore.

The transition to actual sound poetry took place in German literature through Christian Morgenstern - in poems such as Das große Lalula , Lunovis (Das Mondschaf) or Der Rabe Ralf (where Morgenstern wrote one of the first examples of concrete poetry with Fisches Nachtgesang ). This was followed by the poets of Dada , for example Hugo Ball with Caravan , or Johannes Theodor Baargeld with Bimmelresonnanz II . The most important sound poems of this time come from Raoul Hausmann and Kurt Schwitters , above all the Ursonate , which is made up of no word but only syllables over several sentences.

At the end of the 1950s, German-speaking writers of the second avant-garde began to rediscover such stylistic devices. Franz Mon , Gerhard Rühm , Oskar Pastior and Ernst Jandl were among the most important representatives of sound poetry at this time .

Outside the German-speaking area, an international scene of experimental sound poets formed from 1958, who increasingly wanted to break away from the written down of vocal sounds. From 1964 the French poet Henri Chopin published the record magazine “revue OU”, which was primarily dedicated to the innovators of electronic sound poetry. In addition to Chopin's radical tape pieces, poets such as François Dufrêne , Bernard Heidsieck , Bob Cobbing , William S. Burroughs , Paul de Vree , Charles Amirkhanian and Raoul Hausmann were published.

Three years later the Swedish artists' association Fylkingen started organizing the so-called text sound festivals. As text-sound composition designated Bengt Emil Johnson , Lars-Gunnar Bodin , Sten Hanson , Åke Hodell and Öyvind a continuum between language and literature on the one hand and music on the other. The catalyst between these two poles was often the use of electroacoustic equipment or special recording techniques. Here, too, the attempt was made to detach from the text, using the record or tape as the medium.

In recent times, sound poetry has played a not insignificant role in the slam poetry and rap scene, which, since rap is derived, among other things, from the scat tradition of jazz, is obvious and leads to a fusion of avant-garde currents of the high culture of the classical Modern and popular traditions of sound poetry has resulted.

At the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, sound poets began to make use of the creative possibilities of digital technologies. Performers such as the French sound artist Joachim Montessuis , the sound poet and composer Jaap Blonk from Holland, the Norwegian musician Maja Ratkje and Jörg Piringer from Austria and the Germans Dirk Hülstrunk and Michael Lentz use computers, electronic effects and samplers in their live performances To expand the expression of the human voice.


Johann Klaj

The kekke Lachengekk coaxes / croaks / and croaks /
Des Krippels Krückenstockk croaks / croaks / humps and croaks /
Des Gukkuks Gukken defies the frog and also the Krükke.
What is still more cracking and cracking? here briefly my rhyme patches.

Johann Klaj : continuation of the Pegnitz-Schäferey , Nuremberg 1645

Paul Scheerbart

Mad Mastodon's monologue

Zépke! Zépke!
Mekkimápsi - muschibróps.
Okosôni! Mamimûne .......
Epakróllu róndima sêka, inti .... windi .... nakki; pakki salône hepperéppe - hepperéppe !!
Lakku - Zakku - Wakku - Quakku ––– muschibróps.
Mamimûne - lesebesebîmbera - roxróx - roxróx !!!
Lesebesebîmbera - surû - huhû

Christian Morgenstern

The great Lalula

Kroklokwafzi? Semememi!
Seiokrontro - prafriplo:
Bifzi, bafzi; hulalemi:
quasti basti bo ...
Lalu lalu lalu lalu la!

Hontraruru miromente
zasku zes rü rü?
Entepente, leiolente
klekwapufzi lü?
Lalu lalu lalu lalu la!

Simarar kos malzipempu
silzuzankunkrei (;)!
Marjomar dos: Quempu Lempu
Siri Suri Sei []!
Lalu lalu lalu lalu la!

Christian Morgenstern: Galgenlieder , Berlin 1905

Hugo Ball

brulba dori daula dalla
sula lori wauga malla
lori damma fusmalu

Dasche mame came rilla schursche
saga minor vasvilla
suri pauge fuzmalu

Dolli gamba bokamufti
sabel ize spogagufti
palazuma polja gei

mula dampe dori villa
alles virds schavi drestilla
offi lima dozapau pozadau

See also


  • Michael Lentz : Sound poetry / music after 1945 . A critical-documentary inventory. 2 vol., Edition Selene, Klagenfurt 2000
  • Christian Scholz: Studies on the history and typology of sound poetry. 3 volumes: Part I: Presentation. Part II: Bibliography. Part III: Discography. Obermichelbach 1989, Gertrud Scholz Verlag ISBN 3-925599-04-5
  • Christian Scholz, Urs Engeler (ed.): Fümms bö wö taä zää uu. Voices and sounds of sound poetry. Basel / Weil a. Rhein / Wien: Urs Engeler Editor 2002, 447 pp. With a CD that contains sound texts / music specially composed for this anthology.


  • Mouth concert / acoustic poetry. A production by Saarländischer Rundfunk, 60 minutes, 1977. Script and direction: Klaus Peter Dencker

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Knörrich: Lexicon of lyrical forms (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 479). Kröner, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-520-47901-X , pp. 126-128.
  2. ^ In: Paul Scheerbart poems at Project Gutenberg
  3. ^ In: Hugo Ball poems at Project Gutenberg