S C R O L L   D O W N


Live performances and recording processes represent different contexts of experience that in various ways can influence expressive means and artistic results. Performers intuitively adjusts to different contexts which interactively influence the choice of expressive means.


The repertoire of this project is primarily music of intimate forms: songs with piano, solo piano pieces, music for cello and electronics, and string quartet. The different performing venues (sites) encompass and promote a dialogue between the performers and audience. Premises for experiencing performances in a composer’s home (intimate, homey space with associations to the composer’s life) will be different than in performances in a church (large space with associations to religious activity). Does the music depend on a certain kind of site? How does the site influence the performer’s or the listener’s experience of the music?


Sites of the mind

Every performer has a unique set of reasons as to why a performance takes place. Some performers merely wish to express themselves, to be noticed and hopefully receive public acclaim. Most professional musicians have a mix of reasons: artistic, political, religious, cultural, pedagogic, economic, etc. Whatever the reasons may be, the artistic result will vary if the communicative intention is to project, express or expose underlying meanings through musical means.

Score studies can be considered to be an “abstract site”. The notion that the music will be performed at some point in the future will influence the way it is conceived. Other reflections on the site of a given musical piece – place, occasion, time, context – also belong to the performers work with abstract sites. The performer will have a question somewhere in the back of his or her mind: “Does this music align with my performative preferences?” If not, the music will be discarded and left for later times or to other performers. If the music seems to align with the performer’s mindset, a creative site is opened.


Rehearsing (without an audience) can be considered to be a “creative site”. Fine-tuning technical issues and investigating a variety of possible musical meanings has several stages:

  • questioning

  • finding

  • doubting

  • re-questioning


The stages are repeated, depending on the amount of rehearsal time. The musical material is gradually implemented in the performer’s personal preferences, filtered through his or her mindset, sometimes moving the performer to new ways of thinking. Rehearsing at different locations with varying space, reverb or ‘cultural aura’ can also have a remarkable impact on creative ideas.


When rehearsal time is at an end, the music moves to “performative sites”: public appearances or live recordings. When communicating music to different audiences at different places and times, the performer responds to each audience’s expectations of hearing a meaningful interpretation. This can lead to a nervous anxiety or to a sensation of tuning into audience reception through a communicative mode as an opportunity to rediscover musical meanings and adapt them to the performance. Some performers apply extra-musical elements such as program notes, gestures, or other visual means.


Sound-based recordings (without audience) can be considered to be an “acousmatic site” (sound only), in which an imaginative space is opened. The performer focuses on what different listeners might appreciate, based solely on the recorded sounds. Any exterior issues, such as interruptions or technical problems, will be considered as disturbances.


Within this research project many different performative contexts were explored. Concert performances also included oral comments and presentations of the research project in different ways (conferences, festivals, concert series, etc.). Performance contexts included:

  • Concert venues in Bergen (Universitetsaulaen UiB, Gunnar Sævig’s Hall, Cornerteateret, Studio Bergen, Fana kulturhus).

  • International venues (Universities and other concert facilities in USA, Slovakia, Ukraine, Georgia, Denmark).

  • Composer’s homes and venues in their near region. For Tveitt, Norheimsund library; Sæverud, Siljustøl; Valen, Valenheimen, Valestrand Church.

  • Outdoor concert (Denmark).

  • Recording sessions in Gunnar Sævig’s Hall, University Aula UiB, Studio A UiB.


The musicological project assessed the following question: What happens with musicians when they perform Sæverud’s music in his own home at Siljustøl, Valen’s music at Valenheimen or Tveitt’s music in the Hardanger region? Site and “aura”, meaning the atmosphere in and around a composer’s home and surrounding area, were key concepts to the musicologist’s focus. New questions arose as to how site and aura can influence performers’ re-enactment of the music and their relationship to the composer.


Here are some reflections as to site influence on artistic results:

  • Adjustments were made for the same repertoire, depending on situation/context of concert and recording sessions

  • Specific ideas changed and developed between different venues

  • Relating to different audience situations influenced performances

  • Performing in the composers’ homes and/or area influenced both how the composer’s own music was played as well as that of other composers

  • Expressivity was influenced by international performances and foreign audiences

  • The recording situations influenced original artistic intentions


Demands on a performer during recording sessions are always different than those posed by live performances. A performance requires being present in the flow of the moment, and concentration or nervous tension can either add to or subtract from the ability of free expression. During a recording session, performers can make several takes attempting to adapt and fine-tune the music to their intended expressions. Since a recording might be listened to several times, expressions that may be considered to be “aparte” are often reduced or omitted.

For Ehde and Vaage, recording was part of their method and working process. Even if a recording of two of the “research pieces” were made, the following performance would bring about a development. It is vital in this process to keep the music “open”, to avoid “freezing it”, when the decision is made to make a CD or another form of documentation. Their recording process functioned more like a footprint in time, a developmental fragment between the past and the future. Even so, they found recording to be a good way of lifting the project’s energy and reinforcing musical quality.


How do different performing contexts - such as concert venues, relationships towards audiences, and recording sessions - influence the use of expressive means and the artistic result in relation to expressivity and the performer’s artistic intentions?

Further reading