During the last year, the Lockdown, many musical friends of mine have shared videos of themselves singing or playing, together with their own voice and/or instruments. There are numerous apps (” acapella” being one of them) where you can record yourself and re-record yourself while listening to what you did the first time. And then doing it again and again… Basically, this makes you able to become a whole choir, or orchestra, all by yourself. Even if several people can be involved (as done by several orchestras and ensembles), many seem to have found it fun to use it just by themselves. As did I. Oh, yes, I’ve experimented with the apps! However, you will never hear anything of what I did – I have not, and will not, share my self-echoing-experiments with anyone. I found the predictability of my one voice boring, dull and way too monochrome. Quite depressing, to be honest. To keep on being honest, no matter how impressive the performer, I find it boring, dull and monochrome listening to the self-eccoing-experiments fo Other’s too. (unless it’s super humouristic and only for fun. That can work). Nothing exiting happens! It’s too slick! IWhat I am looking for is
1. the flow and/or resistance only other personalities can give.
3. the feedback loop of the Other.
(It’s another thing if you are playing a solo piece, doing a monologue, being your own walkman, or if you’re accompanying yourself on a lute or whatever. Different!)
Back to me! Covid Lockdown provided a stillness I desperately needed after having had too much on my plate for way too long. My voice hadn’t been functioning well for a while (I will try to come back to this sore and sensitive subject in another post) – bad had gotten worse, and time to heal was much longed for. But, oh, after the first wave, how I missed the voices of Others. To be something more than just me! My own voice can sound bland and uninteresting by itself, but glorious and extraordinary when blended with someone else’s sounds and ideas. Not only that – it has become undoubtably clear that it is the presence and resistance of other musicians that make me Me.
Three recent, ongoing, projects that bring out different aspects of Me.
Harpist Sunniva Rødland initiated earlier this year a new ensemble with percussionist Sigrun Rogstad Gomnæs and me. We have commissioned new music by various composers (Jenny Hettne, Jan Martin Smørdal, Jonas Skaarud and Steingrimur Rohloff). Still, mainly we base our work on improvisation, the more or less free kind.
Sometimes we decide on…something, but most of the time, we just begin (the Beguine) and go from there into the sparkly unknown.
Meeting their surprises and sounds with my whole musical being is when music makes sense to me. No app in the world can give that Friction! or Openness! To merge in the sounds we create together, feeling perfectly safe but having no idea what will come in the next second is… amazing. When working like this, traveling in a wide-open landscape, there is no time to focus too much on yourself; you’d be lost before you even begin.
How does a singer sounds when she tries to imitate wood against metal, or skin? How does a harp sound when the singer gives her a smooth legato line to follow?
As I’m writing this, I sit at home in covid quarantine. Not because I or anyone near me is sick, but because I was in Gothenburg last week. Hometown love, vaccinated parents, very old friends, and WORK!
Daniel Stighäll, a research fellow at Luleå University, is preparing for the final result of his artistic research, and I am so lucky to be taking part of it. What’s interesting for me personally is that his research touches on my research: opera before it became Opera. Although his work investigates the earlier Madrigal Comedy, which came before Monteverdi et al, I get to test out my actor-singer theories in action. Jan Sandtröm and Tuva-Lisa Rangström have written an opera? A musical drama? A theatre play set to music? Anyway it’s called Nattugglor” (” Nighthawks”) and the story itself is a variation of the Orfeo myth, and the music is like early music but not, and new music, but also not. Little bits of music and stories from the late 16th, early 17th centuries are woven into a contemporary, modern music universe. On top, lirone, lute, flutes, trombone, violin, crazy singers; lots and lots of acting, improv and playing with different voices. Because of the playfulness of everyone involved in the project, this was a session of pure fun.
Fun leads to laughter, leads to open minds, leads to greatness.
Last, but in no way least, my dear, dear friends in ensemble Odd Size. We chose each other, and we keep choosing each other despite…stuff. On our Instagram account, I claim the following:
” Ensemble Odd Size is for me to say Yes! Yes to each other and Yes to the Music. The Odd Size way is to know the rules and then, lovingly, break them (there is, overall, a lot of love in Odd Size…❤️). I have definitely become the musician and artist I am today through working together with these guys for a long time, and I dearly hope we’ll continue to challenge and build each other many years to come….”
No, they wouldn’t be them without me. Even if this post is about becoming who we are through Others, we shouldn’t forget the impact we have on others, good or bad. We mean something to Others. We can come across as intimidating and harsh, making others smaller (even if the person feeling small is ourselves), or we can radiate a gentle, soothing power that empowers. Acknowledging this is not narcissistic grandness, but quite the opposite. It’s taking responsibility for the vibes we send out, and receive, and send out and receive, back and forth, around, inside, across, until it becomes a sonic, mysterious mycelium…
… and that’s all I should say about that.