We asked Radio 6 music DJ Tom Ravenscroft to make a playlist to celebrate the final week of Schwitters in Britain

  • TateShots: Kurt Schwitters's Portraits

In a way, Kurt Schwitters made things easy for our guest blogger. He came up with his own soundtracks,  which he performed himself in true Dadaist style (see above).

Schwitters came over to Britain as a refugee in 1948 and invented the concept of Merz: ‘the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials’ - and, alongside his pioneering use of found objects and everday materials in collages and installations, that Merz also showed up in the form of poems and performances. Ursonate, for example, has a similar structure to a classical sonata or symphony - but its opening line is ‘Fumms bö wö tää zää Uu, pögiff, kwii Ee’. It was written in ‘primordial sounds’ to provoke literary audiences expecting to hear traditional music, explains Japp Blonk. The Dutch Avant-Garde composer is the leading performer of Schwitters’ witty word works, which have also inspired reinterpretations from the likes of British Sea Power (at last month’s Schwitters themed Late at Tate titled Exile, BSP’s Yan created an ambient soundscape using only Schwitters own voice recording of Ursonate).

But of course, listing Schwitters’ own work wouldn’t have been terribly creative, now would it? Thankfully, Tom Ravenscroft has come up with a mix of music that he thinks encompasses what Schwitters was about - and we think he’d approve. It’s Merz.

Tom Ravenscroft, BBC Radio 6 Music DJ

Tom Ravenscroft, BBC Radio 6 Music DJ

Tom Ravenscroft’s Schwitters playlist

Three main things influenced the music I have chosen: first is Schwitters’ sound poem Ursonate, which amongst other things, reminded me of the Scottish poet Ivor Cutler (see track six). The second is the Merzbarn in the Lake District, which seems like the most peaceful and beautiful of places and which I would very much like for myself. And finally, my third influence is the way in which he gathered and foraged for the very material that went into his work. It made me think obviously of punk music, in particular the band The Fall, but also of hip hop and the way it samples, cuts and mixes different sounds into itself a kind of collage. The result of this is a fairly random mix of tunes bundled in together but I hope you can find something amongst it that you like.

1. Nothing People - Chasing Something
2. Hans Arp - Kaspar ist tot
3. The Fall - I’ve Seen Them Come
4. Feedtime - If you cant
5. Loops Haunt - Mun Rhul
6. Nils Frahm - You
7. Ivor Cutler - Go and Sit Upon the Grass
8. Crass - So what
9. Lumerians - Untitled 1
10. Raoul Hausmann - Fmsbw (1918)
11. Kahn - Margeaux Pt.2
12. Cédric Stevens - Between the Battle and the Sheets (Fennesz Remix)
13. Raisa K - Feeder
14. Karriem Riggins - daOOOOOH!!
15. The Fall - Wrong Place, Right Time No. 2
16. Four Tet - Jupiters
17. Olivier Messiaen - Oraison

Listen to Tom’s Schwitters inspired playlist online

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You can find out more about Kurt Schwitters’ influential time in the UK at the Tate Britain exhibition Schwitters in Britain, which ends this week on 12 May 2013