Some questions that we are asking as we work


- Why is the project called "Songs We Sing"?

- What is a song in this context?

- How are we always present as ourselves in the songs?

- Who are 'we' (what's the community?)? 

- What does is mean to sing (together?)?

- What is it that connects the songs in this project?

- How can a song be like a story anyone might tell?

- Are there particular kinds of vocal, instrumental, performance or compositional techniques we need to develop in order to bring the songs in this project together?

- How far can we push the disconnection between things (techniques, songs etc)?

- What are the challenges both performers have and how do they differ or are they shared?

- How do we turn out limitations into strengths?

- How might received performance practices be relevant or irrelevant/not prioritised and why?

- What about words like love, style, intimacy and technique? How do they coexist in this project?

- What other words could be useful to consider?

- What impacts do acoustic, architectural and social environments have?

- As we work, what do we keep and what to we throw away and why?


Alwynne Pritchard & Hans Knut Sveen


This project began in 2018, with the simple desire to play songs that we love. These could be pieces with strong associations, ones we had enjoyed singing and playing before, or songs we had never sung and that were, perhaps, even new to us. When the songs were written or what genre they might come from was not important. Original instrumentation (piano, harpsichord etc) and received ideas about vocal style were also not a priority. Finding a way of creating renditions with the tools at hand (Alwynne's voice and Hans Knut's harmonium) is what originally defined the project.


However, as we have worked on "Songs We Sing", it has become increasingly important to ask questions about how we can bring our own experiences into the process of sharing the songs, as well as how we can open the project up to participation from other people.

Nature Boy

Two versions, recorded by Alwynne and Hans Knut in Bergen in 2022. 

Invitation to Participate

The more we have worked with these songs, the more we have found ourselves asking who the 'we' of the project title might be. Although "Songs We Sing" started as a desire for us to share some of the music that we love, it feels natural now to begin opening the project up to other people. As we find ourselves investigating the process of making these songs our own, we also find ourselves asking how other people might do the same and what impact this would have on our interpretations. 


For this reason, we have made a recording of Eden Ahbez's song "Nature Boy", which we invite you to download, rework and re-upload (return to and we will upload it here), so that our community can grow and the conversation around the project can expand. 


Alwynne & Hans Knut


The audio below was made by Tijs Ham, Bergen, in April 2023 as a response to, and reworking of, Alwynne and Hans Knut's performance of "Nature Boy".

Transcript of a conversation

between Alwynne and Hans Knut, Ytre Arna church, September 9th, 2022:



I have some thoughts I wanted to start off this time with. We have made the recordings before, but there is something that stops me from releasing them. Although I like what we have done, there is a context, maybe a type of story telling, bringing in an approach that unpacks what the songs are. For example, it occurred to me – you playing "An die Musik" and me talking about the words of the song, about what it meant to me in my childhood. Bringing the song out of 19 cent art song into why I want to be a part of "Songs We Sing". The words could be told, the story could be told and the music could be played. The song could then be sung, but it feels like that the part of the context there is missing. When we just sing them it doesn't become that clear and exciting enough.



I agree, but also it is interesting to discuss it further. You could set up a counter argument and say that is exactly what we do. You are not comfortable with releasing them as they are. Although we think the recordings don't differ enough from 'ordinary' performance style, they actually do, and that is partly why I came to an opinion that I would support the idea to release them. Anyhow, – I see your point and agree – we don't bring in enough of ourselves. 



Not just of the personal history but also how we think about what a song is.



That realisation hits us at the moment we record, when playing for and with people in the concert setting, it is different.



There is something different when you commit something to recording even when it is not a physical object, then when listening back the discussion starts – about what we aim for with these etc.



We have called it "Songs We Sing", what does that make of a setup? It refers to many things and layers.



It contains both 'song' and 'sing', noun and verb. But who does the 'we' describe? 



We are looking for how we can make this something from us, not relating to other times or traditions. We have manipulated the material quite a lot



and I would like us to manipulate it more, though.



Our motivation for including songs like the ones we have, is that it provokes some memory of this particular song. Like the Dowland's "Come again", it such a good tune, and we both relate memories to it. 



Although we have the rhythm and melodies, so far we haven't explored how we can contextualise this song. I would love to write a poetic text, something going from my or your personal history with the song, people don't necessarily need to know what it really is, but something that brings pulses and rhythm into speaking directly with an audience, or goes from a conversation with the audience and into the song. Those kinds of things have loads of potential. If we were to explore that, then – if we were to sing a song rather straight – we would sing it differently again.



There is another story about one of the songs, – the one about Silvia (Schubert). Of course I have heard it but I have never been in deep touch with it, since I don't really play that repertoire. When we started playing it in the fashion that we do, when I later hear it played more 'conventional', I somehow react to it as "They don't do that song right". I have built a certain relation to performance of the song, which is interesting as such but also a 'good' experience. 



That is also a good starting point for a short story, that would be about you or somebody else...


About opening it up to people: If we made it clear to people that all contributions would be available on RC, we wouldn't have to deal with 'final versions' but rather build everything into the project.



And depending on who we deal with, – an electronic sound making person would maybe do something with the songs (tweak, hack and manipulate) and a performance person would maybe play stuff, and composers could maybe add a resonance to what they hear.

An Sylvia

Schubert's song "An Sylvia" was one of the first with which we we started working in 2018. Moving from a (relatively) 'straight' interpretation that took into account the fact the Hans Knut was playing the harmonium (not the piano) and Alwynne's approach to vocal style was pretty free, we have gradually opened up the song to incorporate story telling. We have also focussed more attention on timbral connections between the harmonium and the voice, which in turn has led to a very different interpretation of the song (fragment).


Here is an example of a work-in-progress recording made at Ytre Arna church on September the 8th, 2022:

List of performances

The "Songs We Sing" project has so far consisted of the following performances:


November 29th, 2018: Alwynne's studio at USF Verftet, Bergen

January 12th, 2019: T-Michael clothing store, Bergen

June 31st, 2019: Neither Nor Artist Apartment project room, Ytre Arna , Bergen(with Claudia Klasicka)

February 6th, 2020: The Cello Factory, London (with Claudia Klasicka)

April 26th, 2020: Kulturdagene i Arna, Ytre Arna, Bergen

August 7th, 2021: SlettaFest garden music festival, Ytre Arna, Bergen


In March 2021, we also recorded the songs at Ytre Arna church in Bergen:


"My Lagan Love" (trad. Irish)

"Lilac Wine" (James Shelton

"Nature Boy" (Eden Ahbez)

"La Mer" (Charles Trenet)

"Les Berceaux" (Gabriel Fauré)

"An Sylvia" (Franz Schubert) and 

"Come Again" (John Dowland) 


The process of recording was instrumental in the process of opening up the context an community of the project.


Who is Sylvia?

"Songs We Sing"

The Cello Factory, London, 2020