Composition for the Electra Ensemble and Sonsoles Alonso (Piano).

In Search of Cohen’s Kappa.    -    2010    -    11’50

Michèl Koenders: Music & Libretto.

An algorithmical composition performed as a smalll musictheater piece for Ensemble and live use of an interactive computer.

Cohen’s Kappa represents the degree of deviation between two observers when they both observe the same phenomenon. - This formula is a standard (statistical) procedure that psychology uses to determine the quality of methodical research. -

Our hectic times require us to determine our position every day. Are we for something or against something? But can we do this somewhat objectively? And what are the factors that play a role in this? Or does it stay with this illusion of reality and objectivity is not at all important to our judgment? And are we perhaps content with small "partial realities" as solutions?

In the five-part algorithmic composition we search for this reality by quotes from philosophers about perception and reality (used as libretto).

The question; “Is true knowledge of reality possible?” Is answered very differently by different philosophers:

Plato: Yes, as far as the transcendental world of the idea is concerned.

No, when we talk about the sensory perceptible world.

Aristotle: Yes, by reasoning deductively from first principles.

Empiricism (= research) only has a “supporting” function.

Descartes: Yes, by reasoning deductively from first principles (geometric axioms), but there is no role for empiricism.

And finally Kant: Yes, via “synthetic statements a priori”; however not from das Ding an Sich.

In summary, most philosophers have problems perceiving and / or knowing reality.

If we extend the above line to music, can we then provide both audiences and players with a sound (reality) that they not only hear can hear as a whole but can be perceive individually as well? Locating a sound in space is such a realistic individual perception. Each listener experiences the position of a sound on a strictly individual basis. This is clearly perceived in the 3D dome of sound made up of two Audio circles with in total 12 speakers.

Also, envelope and frequency can be separated - in an unnatural way - and reassembled in a different way, which can result in sounds that are strange and "unheard". (Think of the cancellation of gravity in Second-life).

But where do we place them in our real world? And what are we doing with this "illusionary reality"? Can we still speak of a common reality? Or does reality turn out to be a shared social hallucination of the material reality? And are we therefore actually looking for Cohen's lost Kappa ...

The composition can therefore be heard and perceived as a daydreaming and musing piece of music theater about reality.

The live recording has been done by Manuel Cooymans, DJC Recording , live sound processing, postprocessing and audio editing and mastering: Michèl Koenders.

The composition has been commissioned by: ‘NFPK+’ (The Dutch Fund for the Performing Arts).


    Violin: Monica Germino

    Percussion: Tatiana Koleva

    Vocals: Michaela Riener

    Flutes: Susanna Borsch

+ Piano: Sonsoles Alonso

Has been performed by Electra + Sonsoles.

Audio design and Technical drawings: © Michèl Koenders  2010

Poster design: Dré Kampfraath

Photo: Yvette Verwer ©2010