Southbound / Südwärts

for a string instrument and electronics
in collaboration with violinist Katryn Hasler
Duration: 13 min
composed 2007-2009

Published on the compilation "KOFOMI#14 FARBEN", ein klang records, Vienna 2009
(under the title 'süden für julia')

Katryn Hasler playing 'südwärts' (Excerpt) Julia Purgina playing 'südwärts' (Excerpt)
Video: Katryn Hasler and Marcel Zaes performing Southbound, Bern 2010 (Full length)

Southbound / Südwärts is the first part of a series of works based on an acoustic „gating“ system. The system consists of digital switches that control the amplification of the respective string instrument’s output signal. Thus, the system enables creating rhythmic shapes out of continuous instrument sounds. The technology of gating, otherwise primarily used by sound engineers in the studio, here is employed as an artistic strategy. The gating technique underlying ‘Southbound / Südwärts‘ is a fundamental element of Zaes‘ practice ever since. It informs a great number of his recent works as Zaes seeks to develop and to expand its possibilities.

Due to the long-term collaboration with violinist Katryn Hasler, ‘Southbound / Südwärts’ exhibits not only a technical and daring raw sound aesthetic, but also an exceptional score that only determines the rhythms and the forms of the piece, but leaves the choice of pitch to the instrument player.

Regarding structure and form, the piece deals in a reductionist way with the loop. Patterns of a single constant length are played by the instrument player and then get successively sampled and played back. The resulting effect makes audible the intense layering of violin and sine waves – each layer radically treated by the gating system – and renders the piece stark and spatial.

CD publication

The piece, recorded featuring viola player Julia Purgina, has been published under the title "süden for julia" within the compilation CD "KOFOMI#14 FARBEN" by ein_klang_records, Vienna, in 2009:


with Jordan Dykstra (viola):
16 Mar 2015 - California Institute of the Arts - Los Angeles USA

with Céline-Giulia Voser (cello):
12 Jan 2013 - Kirche Rosenberg - Winterthur CH

with Julia Purgina (viola):
19 Sep 2009 - Kofomi - Mittersill A

with Katryn Hasler (scordatura violin):
10 Jan 2009 - Tonspur-Taufe Imprimerie - Basel CH

10 Oct 2008 - PROGR - Bern CH

02 Oct 2008 - Zurich University of the Arts - Zurich CH