Extended composition


In the sphere of contemporary composition and performance, the material for composers and musicians is not only sound, but increasingly emphasises movement and words. The critical creative space around this changed reality has generally been slow to evolve in institutions where music is generated. In response, this project poses some fundamental questions:

The challenge for composers and musicians is that in combination with language and movements, music tends to lose battle for the receiver’s attention and understanding. Of the three sign systems, language is by far the most dominant, then comes the visual and, finally - organized sound. An extended composition must consciously work with attention to this hierarchy, which is not always the case in many works produced today.

This project invites composers and musicians to cooperate in the making of, and reflection upon new works that explore different paths in this expanded material. To help develop the material in the works that are outside organized sound, the project involves practitioners from theatre and dance to guide and supervise the development of these pieces in workshops. Creating a close dialogue between musicians, composers, dramaturge, dancer or actor, but with the aim to maintain the roles of the composer and the autonomy of the composition.

Incorporating language and movements in the musical composition requires new skills taken from theatre and dance, and possibly new performative practices, and a new composition technique . In the radical period from the 1950s to 70s, music theatre and instrumental theatre challenged the modernistic fetish of “absolute music”, through the works of composers and performers like Kagel, Schnebel, Cage, Globokar and Aperghis among others. They opened up the domain of musical composition and performance to include space, body and movements, and developed music theatre and instrumental theatre into an independent subgenre of contemporary music, a new tradition of music theatre. This is today a tradition that is deeply respected and has been an inspiration for many but, as Paul Craenen writes in his book “Composing under the skin”, there has been a rapid development of, and expanded compositional thinking about, the use of the human body in music with the new digital technologies, encouraging composers and performers to explore unusual mappings between sound and image that would be unthinkable with older technology.

All pieces in the project will be developed in stages of workshops, presented in seminar settings before being performed at concerts. There will be six collaborations of composers and performers in the main project, and they will each produce at least one work. The aim of the workshops will be to challenge the compositional proposed combination of words, structured sounds and movements with input and supervision from a dramaturge, director/actor or a dancer/choreographer. The workshops and seminars will be held at the different institutions involved. As a culmination, there will be large concert of all the pieces.

Project group

Henrik Hellstenius: project manager, composer and professor in composition at Norwegian Academy of Music. Will lead the project, arrange workshop, seminars, compose music and lecture at seminars.

Camilla Eeg-Tverrbakk: dramaturge and actor, doctorate in dramaturgy and professor in dramaturgy at Norwegian Theatre Academy in Fredrikstad, Norway. Will be supervisor and lecturer in dramaturgy, text and space at seminars.

Ellen Ugelvik - associate professor at Norwegian of Academy and pianist in Asamisimasa. Will assist the leading of the project, perform wih Asamisimasa and lecture at seminars.

Tanja Orning: doctorate in Musicology and post-doctorate at Norwegian Academy of Music, composer and cellist in Asamisimasa. Will compose music, perform with Asamisimasa and lecture at seminars.

Christian Blom: composer and director of NOTAM (Norwegian Center for Technology in Music and Art). Will compose music and lecture at seminars.

Anders Førsidal: guitarist and music researcher. Holds a PHD in musicology from the Norwegian Academy of Music. Will be a performer and writer in the project.

Håkon Stene: percussionist and performer. From 2017 he has been appointed professor of percussion at the Music Academy in Freiburg, Germany. Will be a performer and writer in the project.

Shila Anaraki: dancer and choreographer. Will supervise workshops, perform in compositins and lecture at seminars.

Project 1: Henrik Hellstenius/Ellen Ugelvik/Tanja Orning