Øyvind Andreas Mæland

Flow-obstructed phrasing

Norwegian Academy of Music 

Keyword: Music, Composition.


I seek to expand the possibilities of expression as a composer by exploring the potential in what I choose to call flow-obstructed phrasingI define flow-obstructed phrasing as a way of phrasing giving the composer/musician a physical experience of adding resistance to the breath or body, and I use this mainly in order to create an intensified sense of presence.


While flow is an even continuum, the obruction is a hindrance, whether dramatic or low-key/subtle. Phrasing relates to breath, and flow-obstructed phrasing is what occurs when the breath/body is met with obstacles such as filters/friction, certain types of irregularity, breaks/stops, etc. This may involve how a sound/resonance is damped/stopped (from sound to silence), and how one instrument/voice must work to efficiently get from one sound to a markedly different one – in one breath (legato), f.ex. while keeping the same pitch. It may also include phrases with sudden changes in dynamics/spatialization. 


Experience and challenges with similar musical approaches have convinced me that more is to be explored, and furthermore I believe that the compositional ideas of flow-obstructed phrasing may be transferred to other more visually corporeal art fields: The focus on breath/body necessarily makes it natural to include movement and theatricality, in which I will do in at least 2 of the 5 compositions. The order will switch between concert works and works for the stage, to see how working with movement again may inform/affect instrumental writing.


Obstruction might represent a play with expectations, even a way of creating material, and I am fascinated by flow-obstruction balancing between something seemingly mechanical/non-human, and the corporeal-human. More importantly, I experience that the bodily element sharpens the senses, and one hypothesis is that flow-obstructed phrasing can lead to a powerful intimacy, potentially also a togetherness in listening.


Research questions: In what ways can I expand the possibilities of expression as a composer by studying different prototypes of flow-obstructed phrasing?

In what ways can these prototypes be transferred to movement and theatricality, and manifest themselves in a bodily physical expression in stage works where the composer's role is similar to that of the director/choreographer? And furthemorer, what new insights will these experiences add to the concert music works?

Øyvind Mæland: The Norwegian composer Øyvind Mæland (NO) studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music with Olav Anton Thommessen, Ivar Frounberg and Henrik Hellstenius, and has also participated in several masterclasses with composers such as Aperghis, Furrer, Billone, Ferneyhough, K. Lang and Czernowin.

He often writes for voice and for ensembles, and he has worked with musicians and ensembles such as Håkon Austbø, Marco Fusi, Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen, Jennifer Torrence, Stine Motland, Sanae Yoshida, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Pinquins, Alpaca Trio, Oslo String Quartet, Kairos Quartett, Uusinta, Aksiom, Bit20, Telemark Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Ernst, Bodø Sinfonietta, Oslo Sinfonietta and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. His music has been performed several times at festivals such as Ultima, Borealis, Only Connect, Oslo International Chamber Music Festival, Time of Music Festival Vitassari and Silence Festival (Finland), Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Sommer im Stuttgart, Musikthetatertage Wien, etc.

He has written several music theatre works, including the full-scale opera Ad undas – Solaris Korrigert (based on Øyvind Rimbereids poem Solaris Korrigert", which was staged at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in 2013. 10 of Mæland's works have been recorded on the labels of Lawo, Fabra and Geiger.



Artistic Research Autumn Forum 2023

In addition to an introduction of my project, I will reflect on the choices of methods/work processes, and also present some issues that I currently see as particularily challenging, or perhaps even obstructive...