The artistic research of A Play with Traditions has been a search for different ways of intertwining classical contemporary performance, folk musical traditioning and my personal playing. I have studied similarities and differences between the traditions, and from there explored new possibilities of interpretation in the light of slått playing through the aesthetics of playing, formal variability, rhythmical aspects and improvisatory, variating and listening-based rehearsal methods. During the project, I also explored what traditioning might mean in the translation to an art music instrument. In collaborations with three composers, new piano works inspired by Norwegian folk music have come to life, where my playing and my background in both traditions affected the possibilities that appeared, and the collaborations further affected me and my playing. The outcomes were the performance of Fossegrimen, the creation and performance of Avstandsriss, and the works on the album trilogy Abstraction in Folk Art, Stille-stykkje and Slåttepiano. I hope these works and performances might function as a contribution to and expansion of the understanding of what folk musical inspiration to art music might be, and what different meetings between traditions can bring forward artistically.
The musical search has enriched me with new experience and insight in being a performer of a tradition, and in what interpretation might be. My bodily experience at the piano has expanded and so has my image of my artistic space and possibilities. I hope that my reflections on performing processes where different traditions are intertwined can be interesting for other musicians who work in the same or similar fields. The reflection unfolds mindsets, images, dialogues, choices, considerations and methods from my processes, which I hope can be fruitful to the musical areas concerning folk musical inspiration and meetings between traditions, collaborations between performers and composers, and interpretation and tradition.
Folk music within Romantic style, Romanticism within folk musical style: this combination is not easy to work with, as the elements lie so far from each other in aesthetic and ideals. Working with them has not happened without resistance, even though I like it when there is friction. The fellowship project took a great deal of time, especially the development of bodily knowledge and experience. Large amounts of time have gone to testing different processes and directions, followed by a lot of resistance. I could have focused on fewer works or areas instead of trying to cover so much in such a short time. But it has been a crucial element of the project to search at the same time within folk music tradition, classical interpretation and contemporary collaborations. It would have been interesting to work further on the compositional directions of Villarkorn, or the development of my own variants of the Solspill outline. But that would have demanded more time. Works in the borderland of the framework of interpretation interest me and give no unambiguous answers, brewing for interesting new future research. Slåttepiano became an important piece for me personally, in which my pianistic background and my interest and heritage from folk music all have a place. From there a number of new musical possibilities have opened up. With the processes of the projects all together during these years, I have started to play differently, and to listen differently. The expanded knowledge accumulated has affected my choices and opened up for a more creative role.
Exercise in creating and considering the instrument, developing a knowledge and deeper consciousness of the individual’s voice and taste, make us more familiar with the basis of our musical choices. Such work also gives a deeper understanding of which choices the music we interpret are based upon. If I could have gone back and changed my classical piano studies, I would have wished to tackle more improvisation and composition, even from my first year. Improvisational and compositional work as part of classical studies give important strength and flexibility to the musician.
Taking a step out and looking at my playing from another perspective, seeing one tradition in light of the other and vice versa, have contributed to opening new perspectives in my attitude as performer. At the beginning of the project, I had a problematic relationship with the classical interpretation’s framework that I had learnt in my education. I am interested in artistic work where the old is set in new lights. I still see the preserving focus as important. For instance, I could not have worked with Slåttepiano the way I did if it hadn’t been for the archives and for all those who perform traditions with a preserving attitude, and the same applies to classical music. But in both fields, it is crucial that there are a rich selection of points of view. The music we carry forward needs room to breath.