Phase 2: Pure responses in Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand (Autumn 2014)

Some of the tunes from each of the norwegian sources were selected based on the criteria of performance and tuning. Haaland travelled for three weeks of field work in this first phase of the project. We did not want to influence the musicians in their approach to the source material: We were looking for unproduced or pure responses. The process was:

1.     1. Each musician or artist was asked to listen and view a video of a tune from the sources on an iPad, or listening to the source through headphones.

2.     2. Respond immediately with an improvisation or a traditional tune that they associated with the source tune based on the kind of emotion they experienced.  

3.     3. A short interview about the experience for documentation.

4      4. Then responses and several takes on the same tune.

Here is an excerpt of a pure tabla response (improvisation) from Achyutram Bhandari in Kathmandu, Nepal. He responds to Sigurd Brokke on the Jew’s harp playing the tune Nordafjells.







Moving to Cambodia, construction work was underway outside the studio in Phnom Penh and, because of a lack of sound proofing, we were forced to relocate and ended up in a small recording room above a CD shop. The equipment was not suitable, so the emergency laptop studio was used. Here is an example of the Khmer singer Ouch Savy responding (improvising lyrics) to Kirsten Bråten Berg singing Nils, Jens & Gjeidung.









For research purposes, we wanted to hold back in order to avoid influencing the responses and products too early in the process.  In all of the sessions, this led to some mild frustrations for the musicians since they wanted to know how they should proceed. Normally, a producer interacts earlier in the process and provides some indications as to what is likely to work. In most cases the responders had never heard any Norwegian folk music before, and the tunes were thus as unfamiliar for them as the tuning. This, together with the pressure to deliver in studio, meant that they did need a certain amount of feedback and reassurance. Eventually, we did indeed discuss the material and tried out different ideas based on dialogue as one way of producing. All the musicians in this phase responded to the original source, and not to each other’s responses.

Here is photos from two different studio sessions in Thailand, with Saharat Chanchalerm and Nithitorn Hiranhankla responding on Khim and Saw duang:

In the recording session at Mahidol University at Salaya Campus with Saharat, the portable laptop studio were in use. Here is a view of the setup. Listen to the khim in Bånsullar 


We logged the responses and takes in a exel sheet to keep track on the progress. Here are an excerpt of the log: