Alfred Baur, together with his wife Gunde, developed chirophonetics in the 70′s of the last century. This section will attempt to give a brief look at who he was, through the story of his life and in some of his writings.
Alfred Baur was a speech therapist and curative educator who for many years practiced in Linz in Austria. He was born in Austria in 1925 and initially trained as an engineer. After military training and active service in the war (which included being a prisoner of war in Russia), he studied linguistics, history and philosophy. It was at this time that he encountered Anthroposophy. After he had received his doctorate, he worked in several curative homes and in 1957 founded a clinic for curative education and speech pathology together with his wife, Gunde, an anthroposophical doctor.
Stimulated through his work with children, he wrote several books of poems that support speech therapy and treated thousands of children with all kinds of speech impairments.
Chirophonetic therapy was developed in 1972 and arose out of this therapeutic speech work. The name “chirophonetic therapy” was given by Dr Gisbert Huseman in 1976 – the same year that Alfred was first asked to give a course to people who wished to learn how to use it in their work as practitioners of therapy and education. Some of these people are still involved in the work of chirophonetics today.
Alfred Baur died in 2008, but his work continues to be carried by a small but growing number of practitioners around the world.
A SAMPLE OF ONE OF ALFRED’S THERAPEUTIC SPEECH POEMS FOR CHILDREN:
Alfred was an individual who was continually being creative, and he wrote many brilliant poems for children that contain movements that assist particular aspects of speech. The following two poems, appearing first in their original German and then in English versions written by Michael Burton, provide a sampling of his ingenuity, his love of language and his humour:
A poem that uses speech to strengthen the will – children jump into the air (or down from a desk) at the start of each line, speaking the line as they make contact with the ground.
Bum – in meiner Schmiedekammer,
bum – da schwinge ich den Hammer.
Bum – die Feuerfunken spritzen.
bum – die Schmiede muessen schwitzen.
Bum – so russig, Frisch und froh.
bum – ein Schmied ist immer so.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Bong! He makes a mighty clamour.
Bong! The blacksmith swings his hammer.
Bong! The fiery sparks are spurting.
Bong! The iron must be hurting.
Bong! He’s sooty, strong and free.
Bong! The blacksmith – that is he!
THE STORM AND THE EARTHWORM
For children who have no awareness of the volume at which they speak – through this poem children learn to control the loudness and softness of their voice. The poem starts off very quiet, becomes louder and louder to climax on the word “worm” and then gradually fades away again.
Es schreit der Sturm
“Hoer mir doch zu,
“Lass mich in Ruh,
Das waeren so Moden.
Ich schluepf’ in den Boden.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The storm, puffing his cheeks,
to the earthworm shrieks:
“I’ll make you squirm,
“LEAVE me! Be quiet!
I don’t want a riot.
I’d far rather sleep
in this nice compost-heap.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A SAMPLE OF ALFRED’S WRITING TAKEN FROM HIS MAIN BOOK, HEALING SOUNDS: FUNDAMENTALS OF CHIROPHONETICS (pp. 212f):
“Through [recognition of these seven different kinds of sounds] we arrive at a sound-circle, similar to the order of the tones which we have had since Pythagoras and the spectrum of the colours which we have had since Goethe. We do not even need such simple equipment as the prism or the Pythagorean monochord for this sort of enquiry. The experimental prerequisites are available to everyone in their own speech organism. The only strange thing is why it took so long to be discovered, or rediscovered, because as a rule, the things close at hand are found earlier than those further away. And what could lie closer to mankind than speech? Be that as it may, in the circle of the sounds we have a well-ordered palette of sound modalities, which will offer us considerable help in therapy.
“The gestures of the sounds point to individual, infinitely mighty spirit beings, about whom the religious documents say that the world evolved from their deeds and sanctions. It must have been their greatest satisfaction to have brought forth a speaking being. With the sounds, they have given humanity the rudiments of the creative force – creation in its germinal state. Should not new life, new deeds and formations, germinate from this seed, which is still so small and inconspicuous today? The prerequisite for this is that we first understand the creative forces with which we are working. Then the sounds themselves will offer the keys to the most secret chambers of existence where the images of everything that was, that is, and that is to come are contained.”
(translated from the original German by Barbara Baldwin)