Swarming Chants

sound work installation 2019

duration: 15 min.


Swarming Chants explores how their chants spontaneously erupt during football matches and become a collective singing voice without a singular body or defined epicentre. Jan Adriaans connects these chants with the swarm intelligence observed in flocking birds or swarming fish, which involves an unconscious process whereby the individual action is subordinated to the dynamic of a group. The lyrics of football songs usually associate the fan’s group identity firmly with a specific geographic location, unifying its members against an opponent, defined as ‘the other’. However, the different chants in Adriaans’ composition blend into one another: the swarming voices switch language, national identity and location. These songs derive from folksongs, classical operatic repertoire, poptunes, hymns, military marches, nursery rhymes etc. By entirely separating these chants from the original singing bodies, Swarming Chants exposes the power of the collective voice by turning its swarm dynamics and affective impact into a unique sonic experience, which also evokes the peculiar vocal power of operatic choirs. - Kris Dittel

 In the orientation of a pre-conceptual phase (feeling) turning into a conceptual phase, identity is build. Stigmergy; a spontaneous emergence of coherent activity leading to a group feeling, is dominant in this process. It’s a biological term for a form of self-organization. Because the situation of football fans in the street or in the stadium is agonistic, the identity of anyone outside of this group is also build from it, either as an opponent or as a complete outsider.

Thanks to:

Kris Dittel and Jelena Novak

Charly van Rest Silent M studio


V2_Lab for the Unstable Media:

Michel van Dartel, Floran Weigl, Dineke Keemink, Richard Bierhuizen, Wilco Tuinman

Anke Bangma, TENT

Alex In 't Veld

Rop van de Laar






Ivana Ilić, University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Music, Music Theory Department
Iva Nenić, University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology

The audio installation and performance by Jan Adriaans deals with the
affective and political qualities of the collective sound. If the voice was depicted
as isolated and individualized in the works by Zdjelar and Kircher in
regard of its emission and reception, Adriaans’s installation Swarming chants
aims to cut into the sonic pulsing of the large and spontaneous collectives and
to highlight the relational nature of identity, by taking the sound of football
fans’ groups from various spots and then recombining that material into a
sound object that gently sways without particular local, political and cultural
references. In concordance with the thesis of the nature of ‘multitude’ in
the biopolitical sense of a collective agency and subjectivity, Adriaans chooses
to depict the sound of football crowds as the manifestation of a ‘hive’ logic,
where individuality recedes, as a separate entity (a person) becomes a part
of the manifold ‘body without extremities’. The particularity of the individual
voice dissipates, and the knowledge of the fact that the fans’ repertoires
are a specific bricolage of local and global fragments of pop culture, hymns,
patriotic songs, children’s chants, even some operatic excerpts, also starts to
fade away. Instead, the gathered sound is treated as pure matter stripped of its
original semantics that could be further molded and listened to in a different
way. From the far standpoint of a distant observer, this chanting, humming,
swaying looks like the almost rueful sounding of a massified social body that
reaches us in an acousmatic manner, as a wave, the delocalized sound of a
swarm, while the details of quarrels, political gestures and identity matters remain
aside and those large structures that we either willingly or involuntarily
throw ourselves into, became slowly visible. In a certain sense, a montage
within Adriaans’ work relates to the overall concept of the exhibition, because
the use of the voice in/around/with regard to opera also can be observed from
the ‘top-down’ position as a pattern or an interplay of several artistic outputs
that are related in a (possible) configuration of the post-operatic, in a synthetic,
playful and theoretically productive manner.

performance series:

Act 1 Chants for Small Ensemble

Duration: 25 min. 

Excerpt of performance script:                                                                                                                          ‘So there it starts, with one voice, one word. Within a second, hundreds of people hear it. This is a melody so known to us, and we all know the lyrics by heart and by the third word we become aware we’ve already joined in. The song tumbles down the terraces, spreads across to left and right. and by the end of the first line it is one voice again, only this time there are thousands combining as one. Then it breaks down and loses momentum. Another song comes up, somewhere in the crowd, seeking for synchronicity. It demands connection and involvement of all the people who can hear it. And we adapt, constantly by responding to that sensory input….’

Thanks to: Cora Schmeiser, Kathrin Wolkowicz, Julien Grossmann, Gerwin Luijendijk, Michiel Huijben


Duration: 2 x 10 min



In collaboration with composer Dante Boon.

A polyphonic chanting piece performed by 16 supporters of the SPARTA football club.


Thanks to the SPARTA fans!


Act 3  Kracht van Samenzang 

Duration: 30 min.


Through Medieval and Renaissance choir repertoire we reflect on chanting dynamics in

stadiums, by the positioning of choir members in the space, the use of echo, question and

answer and group unity singing techniques.


A performance of the choir: 'Kracht van Samenhang'

in collaboration with and led by Cora Schmeiser



Das Echo (Echo-dialog) - Orlando di Lasso from "Libro de Villanelle" (1581)

Karitas habundat - Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179)

Weep, O Mine Eyes - John Bennet (1599)

El Grillo - Josquin Desprez (1505)


The performance ends with a group learning experiment. Cora sings a song in the language

Nierderdeutsch and everyone in the space tries to sing along with her and each other. Can a

group of strangers unite through listening and vocalizing?


Selected Works

Project type

Project type

Project type

Project type

Project type

Project type