- Oh, good morning, you are already here!

- Better, or still too loud?

- So, what did you think about this new version?

- I thought about how attention drops at about minute 7 in the ‘Under-water’ track. But perhaps the video support us there. Perhaps we can drift? What did you think about?

- Would you like the nicer chair now?

- I found the footsteps a bit too loud still.

- Me too, and the transition into the ‘Singing ice ross’ needs to be shortened.

- Let’s see. [Software is opened] There were also some microphone noises in the ‘Hydro’ section. They appear louder over those speakers than from the computer.

- Brushing on the strings behind the bridge is nice.

- The blowing toward the end is a bit loud.

- Yes, it’s too present and too human somehow. Should we change the levels within the original track? I can do it quite easily here, I think.

-Yeah, and the action of blowing and whistling into the violin can be something that’s also done live. 

- If we eat at the restaurant for lunch now instead of take out, we don't get all those plastic take-away comntainers. 

- If we eat at the restaurant for lunch now instead of take out, we don't get all those plastic take-away comntainers. 

- It would be easy to have this input of the water on the pre-recorded material. Because then you have it in synch. Of course, it would be even nicer to have it live, but this is difficult for the timing?

- Maybe with a stopwatch it could be possible?

- Or we put something on the tape, a small sign only for you.

- I think it will be possible to coordinate. With a stopwatch I will know, and if I see the video, I will be able to follow very closely when it happens.

- Yes, but if you want to have the energy of the water, maybe we can have both, stopwatch and timing impulses for you? I think it’s a good idea that you have a stopwatch. Do you have a good one?

- I think that’s the right track. The blue one is with all the blowing.

- I’m doing a fade. And mute this one. Shall we compare?


- Okay, maybe I take it a bit more back here?

- It’s better. Still a lot of blowing sounds, but they are not taking over.

- We can listen in the whole context.

- Yeah. And consider what elements that could be played live.

- Yeah, maybe we need to listen once more. I have it saved, so we can go back. I was afraid, because sometimes I just redo and I don’t save the first one.

- Yes, go back. And I think the length is fine. And what do you think about here when it’s getting more expressive?

- Umm, I like when it starts to open up. I felt like the transition going into the Arctic ice was a bit of a question mark though. I felt it wasn’t going to diminuendo to starting something new, it was trying to build up but then lost it a bit, and then something new happened.

- Exactly! And we can see it here [pointing], because here it’s kind of a crescendo, and I was expecting more [points] but it was going back.

- Mmm.

- Perhaps, in the end it might not be a score in the traditional sense. Probably just a stopwatch and some notes.

- And some text for reminding, a description.

- Yes, and later we can make a score that explains more, but for the performance, maybe not so much is needed.

- I thought so too, that first we do the piece, then we do the score [laughing]. Because, it’s already so much done.

Behind us, on the floor of the studio at Akademie der Künste in Berlin, amongst coffee cups, umbrellas and a container of strawberries, lies my wooden potato brush from the kitchen at home. It’s a small and simple brush, yet it plays the leading role in the texture we listen to. I show Carola the ways I used it. When recording, I let it play the buzzing of plucked, damped strings that neither bow nor fingers could create.

The work and correspondence on Solastalgia have already been going on for almost a year now, and the tape part is beginning to find its overarching form, after the discussions and trials we have had for four days here in Berlin. After all Zoom meetings online, after the many shared Dropbox folders with different versions of audio tracks, all the email exchange and not least after some doses of vaccine each, finally we can sit here together in the same room, caring for our subject together.



When I research the effects of climate change on the Arctic ice, I stumble upon what will act as both the conceptual framework and the title of our work: the concept of solastalgia. The term was coined by Glenn Albrecht, Professor of Sustainability at Murdoch University in Western Australia in 2005 (Albrecht 2005). It can be linked both to a mourning of what is already lost and the fear of what the future may bring. Albrecht writes:

Solastalgia has its origins in the concepts of ‘solace’ and ‘desolation’. Solace is derived from solari and solacium, with meanings connected to the alleviation of distress or to the provision of comfort or consolation in the face of distressing events. Desolation has its origins in solus and desolare with meanings connected to abandonment and loneliness. As indicated above, algia means pain, suffering or sickness. In addition, the concept has been constructed such that it has a ghost reference or structural similarity to nostalgia so that a place reference is imbedded. Hence, literally, solastalgia is the pain or sickness caused by the loss or lack of solace and the sense of isolation connected to the present state of one’s home and territory. (Albrecht 2005, p.48)

By naming Earth-related emotions associated to trauma, grief and mourning, Albrecht creates a new vocabulary connected to the ecological challenges we are facing in the Anthropocene. Finding that there is a term for the feelings Carola and I experience and confirming that others feel the same as we do is somehow supporting. And as artists, we also feel a similar need to order, process and share our feelings, by using our artistic language to express our care for the ice.

Some months into the work, our collaborative duo expands to an interdisciplinary trio, as video artist Eric Lanz joins the work on Solastalgia. We ask Eric if he has an existing work that might fit our theme, and we are happy when he offers to create something new with us. He himself has been wishing to address solastalgia in his work. In his studio in Düsseldorf, Eric run experiments in salt and water that we now watch here in the studio. The motions of the video, of fading landscapes of salt, evoke feelings of loss. Through the technological experimentation with time that Eric’s advanced software offers, processes can be speeded up a thousand times, or run backwards. His pictures of fading islands of salt – or ice – lend Solastalgia another artistic layer.



We’re both trying our best to manage the technology of our respective software programs. We watch with interest the other trying to edit a fade, to rearrange a sequence or finding the best way to make a cut. I don’t know if Carola is as new to Pro Tools as I am to Reaper, but this scene of us both being here on a somewhat new technological and artistic territory, with an advanced program each running in parallel on the computers, I find very beautiful.

Malte and Andrei, director and technician of the studio come and go while we remain, absorbed in our work and determined to use our time to think together in our bubble. Here we sit, united in our concern for the arctic ice, eager to narrate its story and to lend our voices to it. I notice that we’re dedicated to addressing our ecological anxiety, our solastalgia, but in parallel, when collectively exploring this responsibility, we move into new artistic territory. Task division as we knew it becomes blurred. Responsibility for the many decisions that need to be taken within the artistic process work is shared, in ways I have seldom experienced as a performer. Further, I note that over the four days in the studio, I use my violin only sporadically. Now, my main instrument is the computer, with its reservoir of recordings that I have previously edited and structured. The computer with its software and data and the violin together become a powerfully expressive instrument. With it, I can play this orchestra of myself, and it helps me be creative and involved in new ways.

In the light of Taylor’s model, in this work I am not only responsible for developing the concept and creating sonic components in the many audio layers of the tape part. I also share responsibility for decision making, method development, dialogue, and tuning in to my aesthetic preferences and communicating them. Decision-making is intertwined in our discussions, it is a consequence of care, expressed through asking, listening and considering to find our way forward. Accordingly, the work we construct together here cannot be separated from me and my care for the ice, in the same way as Carola’s care is highly present and inseparable from the work too. We are here as equal artists, with specific knowledge in the two different fields, but united through our care for the ice and each other.

We move our chairs backwards, away from the speakers. Carola presses play on her computer and the audio collage starts in her Pro Tools session. The low sound of the arctic sub-marine landscape floods out of the studio speakers. It is immersive, rich and continuous. At the same time, I start Eric’s video draft on my computer and we turn the lights down. We sit in silence and listen to our 20-minute draft. We try to imagine a concert situation with the fixed media of the tape part distributed over several speakers surrounding us. In addition, there’s my live performance, and Eric’s video, slowly emerging out of the dark space. The video starts subtly, with just a thin white line, contrasted by the black screen. It’s the edge of water. Soon shiny salt crystals appear, drying in island-like formations, then drowning in the black water again. Coming back, the salt looks as crisp as if we could reach out and touch it. The repetitive waves of flood and drought that follow bring the yearly seasons to mind. For each repetition of circling flood and drought, though, the size of the delicate islands diminishes – and eventually they fade away completely. Together, the image and sound merge into a beautiful, yet disturbing and somehow paralyzing scenery. They evolve in an abstract relation to each other, as what we see still is an unpolished and uncoordinated work in the making. But our perception connects their gestures, and meaning emerges.

Composer Carola Bauckholt and I, violinist Karin Hellqvist, have already known each for nearly a decade. We met in 2013 when I performed Carola’s ensemble music with the Norwegian ensemble Cikada. Being fascinated with the unique sound-world of her works, I asked if I could commission a violin solo piece by her. And during the process of creating Doppelbelichtung (2016), for violin and electronics, we became friends, now deciding to bring our shared work to another level – that of collaborative composition.

Being deeply concerned about the escalating effects of climate change, we have both been wanting to address eco-anxiety through our work. When browsing ideas for our upcoming collaboration, Carola sends me a recording of a melting piece of ice, where its intricate sound is captured with a tiny microphone inside of it. Deciding to interact with its rich sonic texture, I make an experiment with my audio recording technology. I’m trying to intuitively map the sounds of the ice with my violin. I add layer upon layer of recordings to create an ice-like complexity. It’s thrilling, responding to the ice through my artistic language. I feel as if I’m accessing embodied patterns of reaction, interpretation and response, catalysed by the sound of the ice. Excited about the outcome of our first attempt, we conduct further research on recordings of ice, and we find captivating recordings from the Polar regions. We agree that we have found our theme: exploring the sounds of the Arctic ice, mapped through the medium of the violin.


When recording those sounds, I close my eyes and listen to the original sound in my headphones. Since the first trials, finding my way to map the ice has been an exploration into ways of responding to sounds through my instrument. Intuitively, I react to the sonic characteristics of the ice, repeat it over and over again, each time recording a new track whilst muting the previous one. Then comes the thrilling moment of pressing the red M on the original file and listening back to the new full texture. I do this translation procedure many times over several months, with different sound files that I find online or that Carola sends me. It is always exciting to listen to the result and then to send the mapping to Carola. Today, these translations I made, as collections of sonic responses, are arranged here together as separate tracks branching in and out of the timeline in Carola’s software. It’s time for them to be a part of a larger structure now, intertwining into this work, Solastalgia.

Through this repetitive work with the ice, I feel how a sense of closeness to the sonic landscape of the ice emerges, despite the distance between us. By listening to the sounds of the ice – both the sounds of a crisp, healthy ice and the sounds of melting ice in human-inflicted transformation – I stay in my feelings of loss and despair. My violin sings ‘I hear you’ to the distant ice, and I sense both the provision of comfort and the feeling of loneliness that Albrecht’s term solastalgia represents.  


The audio collage with its many sound files is arranged in a colourful layout, allowing us to zoom in or out depending on our focus. The work opens with a long sound file, capturing the sounds of the deep arctic ocean; the dense ‘Under-water’ file. Here, sound artist Jana Winderen’s astonishingly beautiful hydrophone recordings from her album Energy Field (2010) has been a source of inspiration. I admire Jana’s careful way of merging the sounds she recorded herself in the wild, frozen landscape of the North. Thanks to her, we can follow this sonic under-water journey from a distance. Knowing Jana’s passionate interest in capturing sound environments difficult for humans to access, I picture her engaged in the process of recording sounds of the remote and cold Arctic landscape. I imagine she must have experienced solastalgia herself onboard that ship, lowering her hydrophones into the deep Arctic Ocean, listening to the waterborne sounds of moving glaciers, codfish and Greenland’s icy winds. Hearing her album has inspired me to interpret the Arctic under-water sound world with my violin. One of my violins is stringed with thicker strings, which sound an octave lower than usual. Detuned again, even below an octave from my usual pitch range, they murmur with the deep of the ocean. Occasionally, silvery overtones screak, as a distant flicker of light, or perhaps as whale song from afar. Just as with the Hydro file, and true for the whole composition, no original sounds are kept in the collage, just the layered violin responses of the sonic landscape.

Why am I trying to portray those sounds of the ice with the violin? Why not just stay with the original recordings in all their beauty? The different recordings we have found through our research, which various artists and scientists have captured in the Polar regions, make their plea for a praising of those threatened ice sonorities. I feel an urge to celebrate the ice through my artistic medium, the violin – to use my language to tell its story. And I feel a responsibility to portray and pay homage to the ice before it’s too late. In the afterlife of the ice, all we will have is our memories of it, our attempts to preserve its fading beauty.

Solastalgia (2022) for violin, tape and video is developed in collaboration with Studio für Elektroakustische Musik der Akademie der Künste in Berlin (2021, 2022) and the Experimentalstudio des SWR in Freiburg (2023). The work will be premiered at Rainy Days Luxembourg 2022 (audio version), and Wittener Tage für Neue Musik 2023, full version. The work was commissioned through the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Still pictures of the layout in this exposition by Eric Lanz.  



Albrecht, G. A. (2005). Solastalgia: A New Concept in Human Health and Identity. Pan: Philosophy, Activism, Nature 3: 41–55.


Bauckholt, C. (2020). Doppelbelichtung (2016) for violin and electronics. Released on Karin Hellqvist, Flock. LAWO Classics 2020.

Goehr, Lydia. (1994). The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Taylor, A. (2016). Analysing Collaborative Practice in Musical Composition: Seven Case Studies.

Winderen, Jana (2010). Energy Field. Available at

We reassemble at the desk and I open my Reaper session of the Hydro track. The working title is Hydro, since the sound file of melting, cracking ice that Carola sent me some seven months earlier was labelled so by the person who in turn gave it to her. At the top line in the Reaper session in my computer, the original file of the ice is marked M in red, for muted. Beneath it, 24 separate layers of violin recordings pile up. Each of the individual tracks reflect and capture a certain parameter of the sound range of the ice. Dryness, speed, pitches, cracking, ice bubbles; together they form a complex and dense texture, reverberating with activity. They are named short things like ‘brush 1’ and ‘high’, and I remember being almost in a state of flow when recording them. Comparing the original recording of the ice and its violin response, we can tell they are closely related, yet this new sonic landscape leaves both the sound-world of the violin as we know it and the sonorities of the ice behind.


Endless versions of reworked tracks are being sent between our computers, from my Reaper software, online via WeTransfer, to Carola’s Pro Tools. Once downloaded and inserted into the audio collage, we listen again.

As we shut down computers to go out to eat, I feel thankful and inspired. Despite the dystopian topic of our work and the constant presence of the fading beauty of the ice, the sense of growing with responsibility emerges. Caring for the ice together with Carola, and dealing with it in such an artistically concrete way makes me feel connected and less alone.

My performance practice within contemporary Western classical music often includes working side by side with living composers. Unlike performing music from the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, in this music the composer is often just a phone call away, and often someone I know. Yet, the truly collaborative aspects of my work have been very limited. The work on Solastalgia together with Carola and Eric is part of an artistic PhD project that I am pursuing at the Norwegian Academy of Music. By engaging with theory and other research, I soon learn that I am far from alone investigating the roles and task division between composer and performer. Music philosopher Lydia Goehr (1994) describes how the separation I have experienced has evolved. The concept of Werktreue, which emerged in the 19th century, describes the performer’s loyalty to the work and consequently to the composer. Being truthful to the work as a performer means to carefully follow the composer’s intentions, not adding too much of one’s own inspiration to the performance. This loyalty results in a task division in which the creative compositional process is the domain of the composer, and performer’s task is rather to interpret work and its technical aspects.


But over the days in the studio, I notice how in this shared work, decision making concerning artistic matters shared by the two of us, as we discuss all the micro and macro level aspects of the work. As a performer, I am rarely this co-responsible for the initial and conceptual visions of a new work, and I have never before been this active in constructing sonic elements for a work. It is a thrilling feeling, expanding my practice into new territories. In the creative space between us, I feel very safe to do so, trusting that my suggestions are respected by Carola, just as I respect hers. By ensuring that each other’s voice is heard, we challenge the ideals of Werktreue.

I appreciate Carola’s carefulness with the materials, as I feel it complements my slightly impulsive way of editing the material. With Carola, changes are precisely written down, notes are taken as we listen through, and versions are frequently saved to ensure we do not make changes that cannot be reversed. I also perceive her way of working as open and generous, by sharing this compositional process. I’m asking myself whether it’s a mindset thing – to choose to see a shared process not as a risk of losing authority over the work, but as daring to welcome the creativity and contribution of another artist? I have the feeling working like this comes natural to her, although I know neither of us are used to work in this way. But inclusion and trust are natural parts of our relationship, making the work we do easy to share.



In my experience, shared ownership of a work between composer and performer is rare. Pieces I perform carry the name of the composer, sometimes dedicated to me or another performer, who premieres the work or acts as a consultant in the compositional process. Carola suggests early on that this work will be a co-composition with both our names on the score. When thinking of this, I am thrilled and excited. I feel as if a new door has opened in my practice, through creatively contributing to this work, and by being acknowledged for doing so.  


Apart from experiencing how those established boundaries are gently pushed aside through our work, I often come to think of the straightforward model that composer and researcher Alan Taylor (2016) draws when categorizing collaborations. Taylor asks two basic questions: Is the imagination of ideas shared, and is the evaluation of those ideas shared? Depending on the answer to these questions, shared work can be divided into four different categories: hierarchical, co-operative, consultative and collaborative. According to Taylor, only when the answer is yes to both questions, can a true collaboration be said to unfold. Thinking back on my past practice, I realize how most of my interactions around new works have fallen into the hierarchical category, where I wasn’t particularly involved in either the imaginative or the evaluative parts of the work.  


Walking back to my hotel in the evening, I think about how this work can be seen to comprise care on different levels. Our care for the Arctic ice connects us both in the artmaking and in the way we see the world. As a symbol for our concerns about the escalating climate change, the ice is our point of focus on which our feelings of solastalgia can be projected and processed. Caring for the ice together during our creative process creates a space to share those difficult feelings through artistic action. Just as I experienced in the recording process, the work makes us stay with the difficult feelings of solastalgia, accepting them. Although Solastalgia might not carry an explicit environmental message in the form of a programme note, when presented in festivals for contemporary music, its connotation will be easy to catch. In the same way as it holds space for us in our eco-anxiety, I hope that when others hear it, they can stay for a moment within their environmental distress. As a lament to the fading beauty of the ice, Solastalgia aims to offer a space for acceptance in our ecological grieving process. 

Further, this shared caring for the ice unfolds along with a layer of care for each other and our practices. The care that Carola shows toward my wish to share the collaborative process allows us to challenge the outmoded ideals of Werktreue. Instead of separation, we move toward inclusion and collectivity. Building on our established friendship, a safe space to practice artistic experimentation evolves. As one of the most important composers in her generation, Carola intuitively challenges the structures of our field by sharing this space with me as a performer. It is a way of situating a shared creative practice in an updated context, discarding ideals of past eras that might prevent us from creating a including process. Through the process of creating Solastalgia, collectively taking responsibility for the Arctic ice makes us take responsibility for creating a true collaboration too.

Karin Hellqvist, March 2022

An account of how two artist’s concern for the Arctic ice catalysed new layers of caring,

observed through the lens of a collaborative workshop in Berlin