This piece reflects various approaches to the idea of playing folk music on the piano. There is a conceptual approach; using a cassette player, the pianist is asked to record a sequence, and subsequently utilize this cassette recording as if trying to learn by ear/imitate what she hears. In the same way as many types of folk music have been passed on, from listening to the old masters recorded on tapes.
There are sequences in the piece, inspired by Mikkel B. Tin’s book De første formene (The First Forms, Novus 2007), a book in which the author draws connections between folk art and modernistic abstract formal language in Fine Arts, and where he points out abstraction as having been present for a long time, representing the incomprehensibility of existence, the mysterious, the religious, the sacred.
In particular, Tin sees a line of connection between different kinds of abstract patterns in embroidery and the geometrically abstract images of the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935).
From the visual link between abstract patterns in folk art and modernistic painting, I wanted part of the piece to deal with these ideas in music. To be able to compose totally abstract piano textures which also could be related to folk art, was a nice thought. Not only to try to see with a fresh pair of eyes what «folk music» might imply today, but also because I find the idea of an archaic abstraction, that there exists an archaic version of what we categorize as modernism, very fascinating.
The abstract materials in this piece is either punctual music (textures without a traditional sense of phrasing, melody, rhythm), ascending scales (as analysis or simplification of a complex texture) or abstracted folk music. Certain places in the piece, excerpts of traditional Norwegian fiddle tunes pols and a gangar are heard on tape, and then answered by the pianist. In the piano answer, the rhythms and dynamics of the phrases are applied to an atonal figuration, resulting in a musical «bastard» between the phrasing of the slått and the atonal language.
The electronics in the abstract sequences are recorded on a Doepfer modular synthesizer.
There are melodic ornamented elements here too, most apparent in the last sequence, Bølgeslåtten (Wave Slått). In this last piece Ingfrid has recorded variations of the same line several times on top of each other, bringing out the sound color of multiple layers of cassette recordings.
In the live version of the piece, images are projected on two screens, synchronous with the music. To the ascending scales there are corresponding color scales, in a kind of 1:1 relation between image and sound. This album version is meant to work without the images.
– Øyvind Torvund, 2015
Øyvind Torvund (b.1976)
Alongside regular musical studies in Oslo and Berlin, the Norwegian composer Øyvind Torvund played guitar in rock and improvising groups, and his music assembles disparate materials, inconsistent attitude: sounds from rock or from everyday life (or nature) occurring in chamber music, simplicity in a complex context, improvisation coexisting with exact notation, music combined with film or projections, seriousness in counterpoint with humor. Raw melodic schemes may come from Purcell, the infill from the detritus of electronic distortion or street noise. Categories are split open or blurred, habits unbent. To quote Iggy Pop: “The neon forest is my home.” Torvund himself puts it like this: “My chief concern is keeping an open approach as to what may function as the constitutive parts of a work of music, and trying to combine several kinds and levels of elements. … Contrasts, juxtapositions and completely opposite perspectives interest me because I believe that there is a lot happening around and beneath the ordinary musical framework, and a lot of unconscious forces to be explored.” © Paul Griffiths