DER TINTENFISCH is a composition for snare drum, up to 24 string players and electronics. The piece was composed for Ensemble ISIS, who premiered the piece on the 31 January 2019 at the JdP Music Building. Since this performance, the piece has been revised considerably and it is this version of the piece that I will discuss here. DER TINTENFISCH is bipartite, consisting of a Max/MSP patch (which processes audio input live but also plays back a fixed electronics file) and a number of individual parts which together comprise the score.

This work is a somewhat ritualistic celebration of Paul the Octopus, a mollusc who was catapulted into stardom after correctly predicting the results of football matches in UEFA Euro 2008 and—most famously—the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Paul was born in Weymouth, England and was moved to a tank at a Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany. During Euro 2008, Paul correctly predicted the outcome of four of Germany’s six matches, and in the 2010 World Cup he did so for all eight of Germany’s matches. During divinations, Paul was presented with two clear boxes—each marked with a country’s flag—containing either a mussel or an oyster. The box that Paul opened first represented his prediction for the game in question. This was not, however, without controversy. When Paul correctly predicted that Germany would lose their semi-final against eventual champions Spain, he received an influx of death threats in the form of recipes for cooking and eating octopus. Upon hearing about the existence of these culinary threats, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero offered Paul a team of bodyguards and Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian called for Paul to be given asylum in Spain. As Paul’s keeper Oliver Walenciak said at the time: “there are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive.” (Hyde 2010). Paul died on 26 October 2010 at the age of two-and-a-half.