About The Hallucinating Harmonists

The Hallucinating Harmonists is a new unparalleled group of eight (to nine) musicians with adapted and custom built music instruments, which make it possible to play instantly in another tuning. The effect of this technique is that the listener doubts his/her musical understanding and at the same time permanently creates a new perception of music. The Hallucinating Harmonists put the audience on the wrong track in a sophisticated but enjoyable way by disorientating them through deviating harmonic progressions, contrary rhythms and tempo modulations. The way listeners can get pleasantly disoriented, just by disrupting their musical expectations, is fascinating. The group plays with this fact in an inventive and original way.
Their performance consist of a variety of original music pieces of Sander Germanus which are based on innovative musical principles, with harmonies that sound fresh, disorienting, natural and surprising. Each piece is made in a totally different style of music (yet in the same idiom!), with influences from jazz, contemporary, classical, fusion and avant-garde pop music. Add to that the excellent musicians of The Hallucinating Harmonists and a unique experience is complete.


. . . . . Musicians [back]

The hallucinatory group of musicians consists of Sander Germanus (saxophone), Ties Mellema (saxophone), Olivier Sliepen (saxophone), Frank Anepool (trumpet), Anne Veinberg (keyboard), Pascal Meyer (keyboard), Melle Weijters (guitar) and Pieter van Lier (bass guitar), regularly supplemented by percussionist Peter Burgers.


After swimming against the current for decades, Sander has become a pioneer of microtonal music in the Netherlands and abroad. Already in the 90's he started composing contemporary music with quarter tones. But the use of small intervals has never been his goal. What intrigues him is the way in which listeners can become pleasantly disoriented, by only disrupting their musical expectations with specific use of microtones and other inventions, such as in the field of tempo. Since this music can even be addictive, his motto has been for years: "You don't need drugs, just listen to my music!" The national press wrote: "Germanus is an expert on microtones, and not just a little bit" and "he writes pieces that look nothing like anything - and that is a compliment for a change." Sander started his saxophone studies in 1988 at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he obtained his master's degree cum laude and with distinction for artistic qualities in 1995. From 1992 he studied composition at the Conservatory of Rotterdam, where he graduated with distinction in 1998. In 2005, after studying microtonality for six years, he became a laureate of the Orpheus Institute in Ghent. Since 2007 he is the artistic director of the Huygens-Fokker Foundation. He composed music for renowned ensembles and orchestras. As the initiator of The Hallucinating Harmonists he writes all the music for this striking group. www.germanus.eu


Ties, winner of the prestigious Netherlands Music Prize, can already look back on a long and impressive career as a saxophonist, both nationally and internationally. Whether it is baroque music by J.S. Bach or the extreme free jazz by his hero John Coltrane, Ties always tries to push the boundaries of disciplines, the outer limits of music and the possibilities on his instrument. He says about himself: “I don’t do styles; I play music. Not classical, not jazz, not pop, but any music that speaks to me and is a true expression of something. I am particularly curious about the music that lies between the styles.” Ties Mellema graduated cum laude from the Conservatory of Amsterdam with Arno Bornkamp as his teacher. After his studies, Ties took lessons with the great saxophonist Jean-Marie Londeix and cellist Anner Bijlsma. For 20 years he played in the illustrious Amstel Quartet, which he co-founded, until he felt it was time for new challenges in music. Ties teaches saxophone at the Conservatory of Tilburg. www.tiesmellema.nl


With his quick fingers, Olivier has won several competitions and has performed as a saxophone soloist with various orchestras and ensembles. As alto saxophonist of the successful Amstel Quartet, he has over 20 years of experience in giving concerts all over the world, blurring the boundaries between jazz, classical, world and pop music. He has won several international prizes with this quartet, such as the Gaudeamus Competition 2006 and Concert Artists Guild 2006, New York. And with his passion for musical adventure, he takes on an Akai EWI with the same ease. Olivier studied saxophone in Luxembourg with Guy Goethals and with Arno Bornkamp at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he was awarded a master with distinction in 2004. The same year the Erasmus exchange program allowed him to work with Claude Delangle at the Conservatoire de Paris. He is a member of United Instruments of Lucilin in Luxembourg. www.oliviersliepen.com


Frank is one of the best baroque trumpet players in the world and is one of the few persons who plays the baroque trumpet without valves, because he specialized for years in the authentic way of playing on natural trumpet; the trumpet from the time of Bach and Händel. His versatility is reflected in the many styles and ensembles in which he plays. For example, from 2007 Frank was a trumpet player in the Clazz Ensemble - which felt just as much at home at the North Sea Jazz Festival as at the classical music venues - consisting of twelve musicians from jazz and classical music with an idiosyncratic repertoire of daring compositions, razor-sharp wind music, dazzling solos and grooving rhythms, with musical boundaries overlapping each other. Frank Anepool studied modern trumpet with Peter Masseurs in Amsterdam. After obtaining his master's degree in 1996, he studied baroque trumpet with Susan Williams in The Hague. In addition to his work as a trumpet player, he is also a conductor. www.frankanepool.nl


The always unleashed pianist Anne Veinberg is an active soloist, improvisor and ensemble player at home and abroad and has won multiple awards. Her repertoire encompasses a wide range of stylistic influences. She specializes in playing toy pianos and the 96-tone piano. Because of her great interest in new music, Anne has premiered numerous works and collaborates with contemporary composers, including Felipe Ignacio Noriega, with whom she forms the duo Off <> zz (live coding and piano). She likes to explore the theatrical contemporary piano repertoire and work with live electronics or live coding. Anne studied at the Melbourne Conservatory of Music with Ronald Farren-Price and the Conservatory of Amsterdam with David Kuyken, with whom she obtained her master's degree in 2012. Anne has been working on her PhD research at the Orpheus Institute since 2015, where she focuses on modes of interaction between live coding and piano playing. www.anneveinberg.com


Pascal is a virtuoso piano player with very broad interests in music. He is a member of the music ensemble Lucilin in Luxembourg, which has developed a repertoire with styles and forms of expression that went far beyond Pascal's classical training. His performances have brought him to music festivals and stages in Europe and outside. Because of his musical curiosity and adventurousness, Pascal played with various ensembles and orchestras as a soloist and has won several music awards. Nowadays his interest is more in exploring electronic music and synthesizers, for instance with the collective Project 128. He makes arrangements and composes for his trio Machine à trois, which stands between jazz, pop and world music. Pascal studied with Jean Hilger at the Conservatory of Luxembourg, with Leonid Tamulevich at the Conservatory of St.Petersburg and with Jan Marisse Huizing, Håkon Austbø and Jan Wijn at the Conservatory of Amsterdam where he obtained his Master's Degree. www.pascalmeyer.com


Addicted to music with more than 12 notes in the octave, Melle is a very skilled guitarist who stands out from others, for that reason alone. In pursuit of improvisational freedom, he once started experimenting with fretless guitars. This led into a deep interest in various alternative tuning systems which resulted in the development of his own microtonal guitars, specializing in playing them. With these instruments, Melle performs in an intelligent yet instinctive way with a contrary view of traditional jazz. Melle studied Jazz guitar at the Conservatory of Maastricht. He graduated cum laude in 2005 and established a profound reputation as a modern jazz player as a member of Carlo Nardozza’s Quintet. Besides his solo projects, he is part of the Bohlen-Pierce Clarinet Project group in Germany since 2015 as well as the Kl-Ex Ensemble since 2018. As of january 2013, he is artistic coordinator at the Huygens-Fokker Foundation, centre for microtonal music in Amsterdam. www.melleweijters.com


Pieter is a seasoned bass player who cannot be pigeonholed. As a double bass player Pieter was trained at the Sweelinck Conservatory Amsterdam. He studied with Hans Krul and continued with Peter Luit, Jean Paul Everts, Jim Schulz and broadened his horizons with Frans van der Hoeven, Daniel Buono and Roberto Tormo. His big musical appetite brought him to orchestras as the Dutch Ballet Orchestra, Noord Nederlands Orkest, various orchestras of the MCO and artists like Tania Kross, Henk van Twillert and Tim Kliphuis. In the theatre world he accompanied Marijke Boon, Lenette van Dongen, Loes Luca, René Groothof and others. He was a steady foundation of groups like Het Wereldorkest, Quinteto Bailongo and Cobla La Principal d’Amsterdam (winning awards as Premi Nacional Agusti Borgunyo and Creus de Sant Jordi, 2007). Pieter also contributed to the establishment of a popschool in Mitrovica, Kosovo in cooperation with Musicians without Borders and the Rock Academy Tilburg. www.pietervanlier.nl


. . . . . Instruments [back]

To familiarize the audience with a new world of sound and to control and increase the quality of the music performance, the creation of adapted and custom made acoustic musical instruments was essential, so that playing the music would be as easy as possible. In the search for instruments that would best suit The Hallucinating Harmonists to perform Sander's musical ideas, that could play in different styles and that could be converted well, he came up with the non-classical instrumentation of trumpet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, keyboards, electric guitar, bass guitar and electronics/percussion; actually the instrumentation of a funk band. In order to perform his music, several instruments had to converted to be able to play easily and virtuoso in a quarter-tone-lowered tuning. However, the use of alternative quarter-tone fingerings also remains important as they are easier to use ultra-chromatically. Below is an overview of the instruments.

* The quarter-tone soprano saxophone (Selmer SA II) was created between 2001 and 2002 by saxophone repairer Paul Feldmann, after an idea by Sander Germanus. He got the new mechanism working by installing a tube in the mouthpiece and an axle and lift key on the body. But it was not until 2004 that the well-known saxophone repairer Nico Bodewes improved the whole and got it workable by installing screws that allow fine tuning, improving the lift key and making a hand rest, so that the balance of the instrument is guaranteed. The instrument can be retuned 50 cents in no time with this mechanism. With some adjustments to the normal mechanism, alternative fingering (for ultrachromics) can also be performed better. This Selmer SA II soprano saxophone has been completely rebuilt and can therefore no longer be fitted with a normal mouthpiece. The instrument is called the 'Vertigo soprano saxophone' and is played by Sander.

* The quarter-tone alto saxophones (Selmer SA II) were developed in 2018 and 2019, based on an earlier design for the quarter-tone soprano saxophone, with one major difference: the mechanism had to be removable so that the instrument could be restored to its original state in just a few minutes. Sander's idea now was to apply the entire mechanism to the neck and mouthpiece of the saxophone. Two new Selmer alto saxophone necks and two mouthpieces suitable for this project have been purchased for this purpose. A lift key on a metal cord can be screwed onto the body of the saxophone. For two years, saxophone repairer Nico Bodewes has been busy creating and improving the idea, with ultimately amazing results. The 'Vertigo alto saxophones' are played by Sander and Olivier.

* The quarter-tone tenor saxophone (Selmer SA II) was completed in 2020 and is the result of experiences with the mechanism for the alto saxophones. However, there is a difference. The distance that the mechanism has to bridge in order to play a quarter tone lower is greater than with an alto saxophone and actually twice as great as with a soprano saxophone. In addition, it is more difficult to place the mechanism on a curved neck than on a more straight neck such as that of an alto saxophone. As a result, creative solutions had to be devised for the construction of the mechanism. The 'Vertigo tenor saxophone' is played by Ties.

* The quarter-tone trumpet (SG24) was built in 2015 by the renowned trumpet builder Hub van Laar in Margraten (NL). A few years earlier, he had already developed the quarter-tone trumpet together with a Lebanese trumpet player. In contrast to the quarter-tone trumpet of other builders, the fourth valve does not have to be played with the little finger of the right hand (which confuses the motor skills of the other fingers), but with the index finger of the practically unemployed left hand. However, the ingenious design was further adapted at the request of Frank and Sander to be able to adjust the tuning of the instrument even better in order to be flexible in an ensemble. The end result was a beautiful custom-made quarter-tone trumpet that is perfectly in tune with the saxophones. The trumpet is played by Frank.

* The JamKey C. (sound controller) is a master keyboard that was purchased in 2018 as the best keyboard with a double keyboard on which it is relatively easy to play quarter tones, because the two keyboards are mounted close together. The firms Orla and MM49.pro have developed a master keyboard capable of performing complex setups in live situations. The two keyboards, one with 61 keys and one with 73 keys, are waterfall keyboards of the type Fater TP80. The large number of control buttons, including drawbars, give the instrument a lot of possibilities. The JamKey came on the market in 2013, but both companies went bankrupt around 2016, making the instrument an instant rare collector's item.
The second keyboard to be used is a conventional keyboard from the brand Nord, which can be supplied with quarter tones using the microtonal software Scala, when needed. The JamKey is played by Anne and the Nord keyboard by Pascal.

* The harmonic electric guitar is an instrument that is relatively close to a conventional guitar (to maintain the ease of playing as much as possible) but there is one big difference. Six additional frets are placed on the neck of the guitar under the (high) E, B, G and D string, which make it possible to play the 7th, 11th and 13th overtone within a chord. In addition, one can play an ultra-chromatic scale within an octave and a fourth. A longer range can be achieved by using a pedal that transposes the sound of the guitar (via a laptop) an octave or other interval. With a second pedal, the entire guitar can be lowered a quarter tone. The guitar is played by Melle.

* For the extended 5-string bass guitar, a simpler system has been set up as the instrument often plays in unison. The instrument uses a pedal, the POD HD500 by Line 6 (with twelve pedal buttons, a volume pedal and more), which can tune the instrument as a whole a quarter tone lower. In addition, the extra fifth string is not a low B but an E that is tuned a quarter tone lower. This quarter-tone lowered string is red, as are the corresponding red notes in all the scores. Adding five frets for quarter tones may be an additional option in the near future. The bass guitar is played by Jelte.


NB. The soprano and tenor saxophone, the mouthpieces and saxophone necks with matching mechanism for two alto saxophones, the quarter-tone trumpet, the JamKey keyboard, the guitar, the bass guitar and the pedals are all owned by Sander's group, so that future substitutes can use the instruments too.


. . . . . Program [back]

COMING SOON: The spectacular premiere of 'The Pleasance of Disorientation' by Sander Germanus & The Hallucinating Harmonists during the November Music Festival 2023 in 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands).
This dazzling music performance will change your way of listening to harmonies for ever. In a witty way the hallucinating experience can perhaps be described as ‘feeling lost in consonance as if music flew a circle around the moon and came back alienized before entering your pleasant disrupted ear’.
The program includes the following titles: Vertigo, Bending Spoon, Stretch Your Ear!, Launch, Dizzy, Trip, Rock My Hammerfest, As I crawl to heaven, Jetties, Illusionary Circles and more.


. . . . . Contact [back]

Sander Germanus & The Hallucinating Harmonists, Amsterdam
info@harmonists.eu --- +31630118937 --- www.harmonists.eu











Thanks to: Investeringsfonds Muziek (Buma Stemra) and November Music festival

copyright 2020 by SG&HH