Artistic Processes and Working Methods
The artistic process is a reflection of bridging the gap of the external world and my internal world (Stratou, 2014; Kogan, 2018; Hagman, 2010).
How do I process societal issues and difficult emotions and find hope? This question itself points to the challenge of bridging the gap between the external work with its societal issues, and the inner world of difficult emotions.
The creation process itself takes place in the forest because to me, that is a space that balances the external world and my internal world. In the forest I hear sounds, see people, animals, trees and plants. By going into the forest I am immersed in the external world, rather than composing the conceptual ideas of the music in the practice room, isolated from the external world. As urban landscapes and nature provide a haven for the people of urban environments, especially those living in apartments, such as myself (Tan, Liao, Hwang, & Chua, 2018).
Keskuspuisto as an urban forest is a place for local Helsinkians to interact with nature and take a walk in the forest. Nowadays, there is also a trend of the “mental health walk”, which means people consciously go for a walk to process thoughts through movement and being outside (Cornell, 2014). Therefore, this specific forest's main activity is people processing their internal worlds through the external world of the forest.
I realised music composition in the form of songwriting is a powerful tool for processing difficult emotions and societal issues. Music is a form of sonic communication that withholds emotional information (Bhatara, Laukka, Levitin, 2014). Adding the voice with its own emotional information within the music context, just supports and amplifies the emotional plot or story of the music piece. Melodies that are sung become more memorable, because the biological significance of the human voice provides a greater depth of processing and enhanced memory (Bhatara, Laukka, Levitin, 2014). This is why the composed music of this project is in the form of songs, with lyrics and vocal melodies first and foremost.
The music is a combination of my original compositions and my arranged Latvian folk songs, also keeping the duality of external and internal worlds. The folk songs have been chosen on a critique of relevance to my interpretation of returning to the present moment and local space, but processed through my emotional sense, creating my own musical interpretation. The original compositions are a straightforward reflection of my internal world's view of the external world, processing the heaviness of personally heard stories and media, which is supported by composing in the natural environment of the forest.
Latvian folk songs have an important role as I took inspiration from the philosophy of improvising lyrics about my surroundings intertwined with my inner feelings in the composition process. The folk songs are usually describing events using allegories and strong symbolism elements from Latvian mythology and history (Krogzeme-Mosgorda, 2022).
Kas notiek Keskuspuisto? (what happens in Keskuspuisto?) is an example of one of my compositions that was inspired by Latvian folk song lyric structures. I composed the song in Keskuspuisto and it reflects on the occurrences of different people coming to the park and their intentions behind their arrival. The song also reflects on the importance of having natural landscapes in urban environments, as the forest contributes to people's physical and mental health.
“Visi meži guniem dega” (All the forests were lit with flames - as an example of allegory) is an example of a chosen Latvian folk song with my musical interpretation. The lyrics have strong symbols of Latvian mythology and is one of the most popular spēka dziesmas (strength songs)in our folk song repertoire. The song speaks of fate deity Laima (Šmidta, 1918), who decides your path. Laima holds the key and whichever path Laima walks is the path you have to follow. We trust Laima to walk paths where evil has not trodden and where Dievs (god) is a guide. This also reflects on the idea of how we should not get hung up on frustration and let hope guide through difficulties we encounter.
A deeper analysis of my composed and arranged music as part of this research can be found in the following sections of this paper. Next, I will describe more literature that I found relevant and have used to inform the analysis of my compositions, and the ways they have enabled me to process difficult emotions and societal issues, giving me hope.