Astrid Seme


“I heard Schwitters practising his ‘Lautsonate’ in the crown of an old pine on the beach at Wyk on Föhr. He hissed, swished, chirped, fluted, cooed and spelled.” [Hans Arp]
Art historians have never fully agreed about what the key influences on Kurt Schwitters’ sound poem “Ursonate” [1922–1933] were. Raoul Hausmann’s poster poems are often cited as a source of inspiration and, according to myth, birds played a key role in the development of the “Ursonate”. I am happy to believe this version of what Kurt Schwitters could have heard in order to arrive at his phonetic poetry and its rhythmic score.
All of the original recordings used for “Urbirds singing the Sonata” stem from the book “Die Stimmen der Vögel Europas” by Bergmann, Helb & Baumann, published by Aula Verlag, Wiebelsheim 2008. The copyrights to the recordings are held by Prof. Hans-Heiner Bergmann, Ernst Arendt, Karl-Heinz Frommolt and Karl-Heinz Garberding, for whose kind support we are very grateful.
“Urbirds singing the Sonata” is available on CD in an edition of 100, released by Mark Pezinger Verlag, a publisher specialising in experimental art books.
Astrid Seme, March 2011

Astrid Seme, born in Graz, Austria in 1985, lives and works in Vienna.


  • Astrid Seme [A]*
  • Urbirds singing the Sonata, 2010
  • 8-channel composition
  • Length 32.39 min.
  • *Supported by Austrian Cultural Forum Berlin
  • Sound inventory of Urbirds singing the Sonata:
  • Thick-billed Parrot, Boxer, Rock Ptarmigan, Northern Gannet, Hawk Owl,
  • Great Northern Diver, Savi’s Warbler, Mallard, Arctic Tern, bells and
  • birds, Cricket, Tengmalm’s Owl, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Eagle Owl,
  • Hedge Accentor, Azure-winged Magpie, Eurasian Griffon, Dusky Warbler,
  • Northern Shoveler, Greater Horseshoe Bat, Black-crowned Night-Heron,
  • Gewoon spitskopje, Hooded Crow, Common Raven, Field Cricket, White
  • Stork, Eider Duck, Black-throated Diver, Hummingbird, Gadwall, Cuckoo,
  • Sibirian Jay, Alpine Swift, horse, European Shag, Wood Grouse, Snow
  • Owl, Hermit Ibis, Black Grouse, Great Northern Diver, Meadow Pipit,
  • Yellow Wagtail, Peregrine Falcon, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Eurasian
  • Pygmy-Owl, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Herring Gull,
  • Eurasian Hoopoe, Grey Heron, Thrush Nightingale, Southern Grey Shrike,
  • Sucker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Willow Grouse, Cicada, Blackcap,
  • Pochard, Black-Headed Gull, Green Toad, Atlantic Puffin, Whimbrel,
  • Northern Gannet, Turtle Dove, Schnauzer, Common Shelduck, Speckled
  • bush-cricket, Red-Throated Diver, Hawfinch, Palaearctic Oystercatcher,
  • Red-Necked Grebe, Imperial Eagle, Reed-Warbler, Barred Warbler,
  • Eurasian Siskin, Canada Goose, Common Shelduck, Carrion Crow,
  • Stripeless Tree Frog, Ruddy Shelduck, Trumpeter Finch, Great Tit,
  • Common Scoter, Meadow Pipit, Rook, Grey Partridge, White-Throated
  • Dipper, Snow Goose, Yellow-Legged Gull, Kittiwake, Black-crowned
  • Night-Heron, Shag
  • 28.03.11–02.07.11
  • Schloßplatz Berlin/Mitte
  • Bench line between Berlin Cathedral and Academy of Music Hanns Eisler [nearby the Humboldt-Box]
  • Daily 8am to 10pm [on the hour]
  • Opening: Su 27.03.11, 11.30am
  • Opening words:
  • Georg Weckwerth [artistic director of TONSPUR]
  • Sarah Waldschmitt [Kunstverein Bonn]