Rozalie Hirs: Words and Music

Introduction: Love for music, poetry, science, technology, for learning

Chemical Engineering (Twente University, MSc)
Music Composition (Royal Conservatoire, MMus; Columbia University, DMA)

The creative process
A maker, making things
Dialogue, feedback, change

The reading experience, the listening experience, the senses, perception

Mathematics, algorithms, functions

Sung words: vocal music

Arbre généalogique (2011)
Rozalie Hirs (music, poem)
Music composition for soprano, ensemble, and electronic sounds, based on the poem ‘Stamboom’. World premiere by Susan Narucki (soprano), Pierre-André Valade (conductor), Asko|Schönberg.
PROMS, Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 10 November 2011, 20:15.
Commissioned by Asko|Schönberg, with financial support by Fonds Podiumkunsten.

Family Tree app (2006), a digital poem, in collaboration with new media artist Harm van den Dorpel

Family tree

mother femme fatale pulled from the mud father weeds grow everywhere
brought the spirit from mothermother butterfly of tales worth a lifetime
motherfather in blue jaguar sugar-coated easter eggs of magic motherbrother
four years old ferried in pyjamas across the river IJ mothermothermother
died young mothermotherfather baritone undone by women and drink
mothermotherfathermother threw the digging of the Overtoom in a sock
100 saved guilders dream at the foot of the bed motherfathersister
cast away household drudge dismissed as mad born 19 October 1919
motherfathersister alleged mothermother fathermother imagined link
between everything tractatus fatherfather for cigars and a drink
neighbourhood letter writer fathermothermother unmarried without means
fathermotherfather in flesh and blood repudiated in the name of the stone
the fortune from his fathermotherfatherfather first paint manufacturer
in the netherlands established in haarlem gambled away on horses drowned
his 19th birthday fatherfathermother had 15 children of whom the youngest
fatherfather living tree brings to life music or is it words?

(translation: Ko Kooman)

Poetry and music hybrids

In LA (2010)
Electroacoustic composition by Rozalie Hirs with poetry by the composer/poet. Performed by Arnold Marinissen (voice).
In LA (2003, Dutch version) was composed as a portrait of the composer Louis Andriessen and is dedicated to him. The text is based on an interview with Andriessen that Hirs conducted in 2003 inquiring after his first memories. In 2010 Hirs translated the piece into English.

In LA (2003, 2010) is inspired by the psychoacoustic ‘cocktail party effect’, which was taken as a metaphor for the act of remembering, for ‘hearing’ a particular stream of memories within a cacophony of competing memories during its emergence into consciousness.

In LA is the second track on the portrait CD ‘Pulsars’ (Amsterdam: Attacca Productions, 2010) of Rozalie Hirs, featuring her electroacoustic compositions and her poetry.

All rights reserved ©2003, 2010 Rozalie Hirs ©2010 Attacca Productions.

Bridge of Babel (2009)
Bridge Of Babel (2009) is an electroacoustic composition by Rozalie Hirs (music, poetry, voice). A trip around the world in twenty languages. For the collage poem Rozalie Hirs quotes thirty-five poets from all over the world. The composition sets out in the Netherlands, travels through France and Germany, through Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, through Australia, Southern America, across Iceland to Scandinavia. We hear the poet’s voice (trying to) speak in different tongues. The electronic sounds are synthesized with help of CSound software.

Bridge of Babel (2009) was released by Attacca Productions as part of Rozalie Hirs’ portrait CD ‘Pulsars’ in 2010. All rights reserved (music, text) ©2009 Rozalie Hirs, ©2010 Attacca Productions

Hyperlyricism & relay reading

Rozalie Hirs: who put on my shoes

there look at those wild-strawberry leaves purring a little
cat between thorns where a tree shakes its swaying antlers
by skeletal islands dry-as-dust wind
swift cuts a tail into two points punt drifts
riverbanks to my right-as-rain roses on hairpin legs
toes with thoughts and tongue in cheek clacking
the buds burst out of their husks happy to be alive I am
daybreak lilac when its bursting spray allows
and birch bark curls dance in wind


grass verges the edge of a field in marram grass peeled
gooseberries clover there leafage theft leaves its trees autumnal
a leggy horse runs in circles like a daft thing dances
through parched fields pulls out plough and root
drowns where boat strikes land with sail mast
along the path spotted woodpeckers wave for fourteen years
I wept come now come then stubbled morning
as we arrive at snowdrops lady’s mantle meadows
water green lilies whitish pearling earth


crazy about figs and lilies birds dipping
in a lake where sunlight blazes and screeching wind consumes earth
with rapidly scooped paper lightning-quick swept-up clouds
airy meadows white cut I came over light hills
and met with death who put on my shoes
in spring frost I walked off on bare feet
among evergreen pine groves through mudflats
waded through the tide to the sea bellying to my calves
remnants from ice aged wrinkled branch crackling
flower its buds letters bursting open seize the day
the night and endless waterways gleaming ribbons
through fields with nettles at my feet


that morning hoar frost so buds and buds the milky white sun
on roof tiles dancing rain along free ranging field path
caressed head and cheekbone olive branches
cradle ash tree branches then I leap with eiderdown out of bed
drink magnified water squamous dream bits
lost on air float down a path where coltsfoot hops
with trotting hoof prints I plant midnight feet
in the pale grey field covered with powdery snow
beside little duckweed boats adrift on the mire


with pomegranate leaves their scarlet hairs
I see loosestrife rooting through fields
weeds cuttings of horsetails a land full of may
moisten earth to sow spring ask mountains the time
not to be spun fine pale yellow plumed thistles not to come too close
pods float in ditches reflect white elderberry sprays
a smell wrapped in jasmine hats lost on air
speckled mossy green climb with daisy stalks
ladders along hair pupating into peacock butterflies


as if I could hear light falling through walls in a village
of trees reveal themselves an entire road close by
blossoming I entrusted water lilies and lotus
blindly to water in blazing sunlight first tines
follow limbs driven by wind directions ships
of bark murmuring pebbles in the beck roll slowly
towards dune rumbling past hovels grief charmed early floored
marsh flowers of hand-shaped parted leaves
I weave starry wreaths calyxes to drink from


in knuckles little daggers of burning larch needles
always stab red staggered tortoiseshells springing where
hogweed grows beside pale birch bark bees zoom
the moon its antics see flagellates springing nightingale
then I eat belladonna slimy frogs legs hop
in curling beck between the script of tiny scots pines
bellowing sea joy billowing honey streams of cotton grass
bones of verge grass batter against a hill beacons
in the distance ships understand mirroring each other to shards

©2012 Rozalie Hirs (translation: Donald Gardner)

Digital Poetry


Rozalie Hirs: <em>Geluksbrenger</em> (<em>Lucky Charm</em>; Amsterdam: Querido, 2008)” width=”300″ height=”250″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-882″ /></a></p>
<p><a href=Geluksbrenger online (2008)
In collaboration with new media artist Harm van den Dorpel

More info on the digital poetry of Geluksbrenger/ Lucky Charm

The interactive applications make the experience of reading, normally restricted to the page and the head of the reader, tangible and visible. As a reader, one makes choices over and over again while reading, thereby actually recreating the text as one reads, usually more than one realizes. Interactive applications and digital poetry can provide an insight into these interventions into, and recreations of, the text, and show something of the reading experience, or even the writing experience of the poet. Because of the diversity of applications that were developed, several different approaches and resulting apps are being mentioned here separately:

Example of a mobile moving with the movement of your mouse, generating pseudo-wind and pseudo-gravity
Stamboom (available in Mandarin, Spanish, English, German, French, Dutch, Swedish; including a listening room)

Examples of underlying crystal structures, based on the recurrences of words, made visible
Hadewijch (available in Dutch only)
Definitie (available in Dutch only; including a music composition)
Een wens (available in Dutch only)
Zon dezelfde kamer (available in Spanish, English, German, French, Dutch; including a music composition)

Rorschach shapes
Examples of Rorschach shape apps
Prologos (available in Spanish, English, French, Dutch; including a listening room)
Van wegen (available in Dutch only; including a listening room)
Kijker oog grijs (available in Dutch only)
Wereld van nu (available in German, French, Dutch)
Topologie (available in Dutch only)
Nachthart (available in Dutch only; including a listening room)
UB313 2003 (available in Spanish, English, German, French, Dutch; including a listening room)
Leven mogelijkheden (available in Spanish, English, German, French, Dutch; including a music composition)
Vorm (available in Spanish, English, French, Dutch)

appearance and disappearance
An example of the appearance and disappearance of letters and text
Tekstverschijning (available in French, Dutch)

A halo that obscurs the actual object when pointing at it
Ziverdauw (available in English, French, Dutch)

daily flying
An example of daily flying

An examples of lines to write on or read from
Toen leerde ik (0-38 jaar)

An example of deconstruction applied by hand
Maken breken

like water
An example of a poem as a vessel filled, then emptied

Examples of quotations, references, sources
Gevonden voorwerpen

Work in stuttering
Rozalie Hirs: gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012)

Sightbook (2013)
in collaboration with graphic designers Ines Cox & Lauren Grusenmeyer

The Belgian duo, Cox & Grusenmeyer, designers and visual artists, created six online personas for six poems or cycles from the collection gestamelde werken (work in stuttering; Amsterdam: Querido, 2012), by Rozalie Hirs. They let these six characters – or alter egos, as they call them – come alive on six different social networks. In choosing the poems, Cox & Grusenmeyer took their own reading experience as a starting point, their encounter with the poem in question. What does the poem speak of? How does it appear? How does it show itself? Does it speak slowly, quickly, loudly, in a singsong, awkwardly? Is it neutral in tone, aggressive, longing, lyrical or seductive? They chose very diverse poems or cycles and characterized their encounter with the poetry in catchwords. That way, they developed six very different characters for the poems, characters they made come alive on the social network that seemed to fit the character most closely. By way of the links below you can visit the characters and become part of Cox & Grusenmeyer’s reading experience.

All images were made especially for this project and are legally protected by copyright ©2012-2013 Cox & Grusenmeyer. The words shown in the images, photos, video and graphics are quotes from the poems by Rozalie Hirs. These concern the following six poems or cycles, all of which appear integrally: ‘lieve lente lacht’ (p.33), ‘vier de stameling’ (pp.52-53), ‘who put on my shoes’ 1-7 (‘die deed mijn schoenen aan’ 1-7; pp.54-61; English translation: Donald Gardner), ‘a no’ (‘een nee’; p.31; English translation: Donald Gardner), ‘long at present longing’ 0-6 (pp.16-23), ‘duizend en één pixel’ (p.36). The project received financial support from the Netherlands Foundation for Literature.

Sightbook: alter ego 1 – Nicky Geneva, Blogger

Visit Nicky Geneva’s blog

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 1 (Nicky Geneva, Blogger), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Lieve lente lacht" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs

Sightbook: alter ego 2 – Agatha van der Aa, YouTube

Watch Agatha van der Aa’s videos on YouTube

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 2 (Agatha van der Aa, YouTube), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Vier de stameling" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs

Sightbook: alter ego 3 – Diederik Lamme, Tumblr

Leaf through Diederik Lamme’s notebook on Tumblr

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 3 (Diederik Lamme, Tumblr), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Who put on my shoes" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs

Sightbook: alter ego 4 – Anna Sherman, Facebook

Become friends with Anna Sherman on Facebook

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 4 (Anna Sherman, Facebook), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "A no" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs

Sightbook: alter ego 5 – Paul Wittema, Twitter

Follow Paul Wittema on Twitter

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 5 (Paul Wittema, Twitter), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Duizend en één pixel" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs

Sightbook: alter ego 6 – Marc Thompson, Instagram

Follow Marc Thompson on Instagram

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 6 (Marc Thompson, Instagram), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Long at present longing" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs

Inventing a new syntax and grammar in music (without words or voices)

Roseherte (2008)
Digital tools: OpenMusic software (generation, processing), CSound (sound synthesis)
Mathematics, Physics: ringmodulation, curves, mathematical function

Roseherte (2008; rev. 2014) for symphony orchestra and electronic sounds

Venus [morning star] (2010)
Digital tools: AudioSculpt software (analysis, resynthesis), OpenMusic software (analysis, representation), Logic (sampler)
Mathematics, Physics: spectral analysis, Risset/Shepard tone

Zaha Hadid's Bach Pavilion; Rozalie Hirs's percussion set up for her composition 'Venus' (2010), Holland Festival, Amsterdam

article 7 [seven ways to climb a mountain] (2012)
Digital tools: OpenMusic software (generation, processing), SuperCollider (digital sound synthesis)
Mathematics, Physics: glissando/slides, harmonic spectra, ring modulation, binaural beats

article 7 [seven ways to climb a mountain] (2012) for bass clarinet and electronic sounds

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