Remember? The trees that withhold the pyramids from the visitor’s eye for as long as possible? The church room that doesn’t make sense until you´re level with the pews? The stories that start out too close for you to see - and then pan out?
I hope that the compositional elements in the music discussed here contribute to obscuring each other a bit and that the contrasts between the sources come together when the components are combined and (re-) arranged for one single acoustic instrument. It’s not for me to say whether or not I achieve my goals, but musical memory has been repurposed - just like the little student guitar I'm using.
The general methodical outline is obviously not just my own. In my immediate surroundings, two Norwegian projects come to mind that use the juxtaposition of (partly traditional) musical entities to create a new creative space. Mattis Kleppen's ”BASSGRIOTISM - New premises for the bassguitar based on hardingfiddlers, griots and bluesmen" (Research Catalogue, 2015) succeeds in merging phrases, inflections, and rhythmic subtleties into a new repertoire for his instrument. Kleppen's work also touches on the theme of music that resonated in him during his formative years and how it has a special place in his sonic imagination for the rest of his life. Also, Ingfrid Breie Nyhus' exploration of tradition and modernism is worth mentioning. In her 2017 exposition "Tradisjoner På Spill / A Play With Traditions", she conducts several experiments along the lines indicated by her project title. I sense a certain kinship with the sections that concern how visual folk art itself may contain a certain degree of abstraction, a topic in which she and composer Øyvind Torvund (2014) quote Mikkel B. Tin (2007). There is also a parallel to be found in how she lifts playing practices from the fiddle and onto the keyboard in the sub-project "Slåttepiano". I place the present project near these two, but I would underline the difference in that I juxtapose two of my own compositional practices (that emerge from their respective influences and are musical amalgams from the outset), rather than two existing traditions (which is where I perceive Kleppen´s and Nyhus´ work to reside).
And that's where I'll stop writing. Reflection is sometimes the opposite of the creative – as Henrik Holm (2019) writes: “To reflect implies a break away from an activity. The very instant I start reflecting on something, I separate myself from that which I’m reflecting over. Many see this fracture as a general feature of modernity: Modern man has developed a reflexive relationship with everything, thereby causing a break with his own experience of reality» (my translation from Norwegian). Visual artist Caroline Slotte (2010) engages with written language apprehensively: "In the same way that art can harbour the irrational, surreal and ambiguos - everything inconsistent and complex in human existence - there should be room for the inexplicable in texts that aim to describe artistic projects" (my translation from Norwegian).
To me, Holm’s and Slotte´s essays seem to capture the problem of how we may be in danger of producing art that is conducive to written and academic knowledge forms we’re drawn to, just because they have the shimmer of institutionalized prestige.
Acting as committee chair during an artistic research viva voce I recently attended, Darla Crispin asked the rhetorical question “Will artistic research eat itself?” and I think the challenge she had in mind was the one that Holm discusses above: Expose too much of your process, and your process will change to accommodate the exposition. I think we can can communicate intention (if there is one) and activity as well as context, but not speculate in result or effect. The music is the primary text in this project, and what you’re about to finish reading right now is just an extended version of what we still called “liner notes” back when the first melodies on this record were written – an Eon ago, it seems.