The Four Elements

elements-title

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Written for Ulf Holmestrand and Fristads Ungdomsorkester
Instrumentation: symphonic wind orchestra
(piccolo flute, 2 flutes, 2 oboes (ad. lib.), bassoon, 3 clarinets in Bb, bass clarinet in Bb, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 horns in F, 3 trumpets in Bb, 2 trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, double bass, timpani, percussion)
Duration: ca. 17 minutes
First performance: Fristads ungdomsorkester, conductor Ulf Holmestrand, 26th april 2017

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Tomten

Tomten Umschlag-01

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Cantata with words from Viktor Rydberg
Instrumentation: mixed choir SAB and string orchestra
Duration: ca. 19 minutes
First performance: students from Borås kulturskola, Borås Vokalensemble, 3rd december 2016, Gustaf Adolfs kyrka, Borås

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Hällristningar

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Written for Nikolaus Indlekofer and the symphony orchestra of Ettlingen music school
Instrumentation: orchestra
(2+picc, 2+cor, 2, 2 – 2, 2, 3, perc, str)
Duration: ca. 15 minutes
First performance: Sinfonieorchester der Musikschule Ettlingen, 24th November 2013, Ettlingen

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Lurs are calling and soon a procession begins to take shape, chanting can be heard. The song fades away and drums take up a daunting rhythm. What is this? Hunt, war, a ritual? The music leads towards an inexorable, forceful climax that is resolved in a phase of contemplation.

Hällristningar is inspired by the Bronze Age rock carvings that can be found in many places of Scandinavia. They must have played a vital part for society, it was a great effort to painfully beat mythical and common motives out of the hard rock. The music wants to fire the imagination and give life to these ancient and to our eyes alien works art. The orchestra paints musical images of scenes from rock carvings such as hunt, war, processions, making music, farming and religious rituals.

But there is more to this score than simply depicting a time so long ago that we only have a vague perception of how pepole lived back then.

Central to the aesthetics of rock carvings is their pictographic character. It was the depiction of the characteristics of an object the creators of the rock carvings were after and not a lifelike representation. A wagon for example is commonly represented by a side view of the wheels connected with lines.

During the 20th century, icons have become important again, helping to transport complex messages through simple means and to a certain extent independent from language – like signs for toilets, elevators, emergency exits or “overtaking forbidden”. Nowadays pictogrammes have gained even more importance in our lives. They have become the key to using computers, the internet and all sorts of technical devices that surround us.

An important part of this digital world of pictogrammes are games. We are playing always and everywhere and icons are often fundamental to gaming. Hällristningar incorporates this natural relationship towards symbols and pictographs shared by us as a part of the digital world and its games and the Scandinavian people of the Bronze Age as a part of their art.

Central to the score is a set of symbols that show how the parts have to be played. They represent the rules of playing the piece: how different sections have to be performed, but also when they have to be performed. The musicians need to listen to each other much more carefuly than they would normally do as the other’s actions determine their own. Instead of painstakingly rehearsing an exact interpretation of the piece the musicians engage in a direct and playful interaction. The score becomes a social game for orchesta which makes the individual musician conscious about their role within the orchestra.

PRISMA

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Instrumentation: orchestra
(flute, alto flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet in eb, clarinet in a, bassoon, contra-bassoon
2 horns in f, piccolo trumpet in a or d, trumpet in bb, alto, tenor and bass trombone
violins 1/I–1/III, violins 2/I–2/III, viola I–II, cello I–II, double bass I–II)
Duration: 8 minutes
First performance: SNOA, 28th april 2012, Göteborg

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Recording with the Swedish National Orchestra Academy:

White light is composed of the continuous spectrum of all frequencies of visible light. To make this visible a prism is used in which the different wave lengths are refracted and thus all colours appear next to each other as in a rainbow.

Just as white light is made up of the continuous spectrum of all visible light, white noise is a continuous spectrum of (all audible) sound. But music consists not only of pitch, other parameters – such as rhythm, timbre, dynamics – are just as important for the musical result. Applying a prism in a musical context must therefore result in much more than just a glissando over the whole ambitus of the sound.

The initiation of PRISMA is white noise: A chromatic total through all registers of the orchestral instruments with every instrument individually repeating a small number of pitches at a different tempo. But what lies behind this energetic noise, which musical possibilities can be found in this undirected energy?

In several filtering processes different aspects of the initial sound like rhythm, timbre and melody are examined and developed. Coming from the original, chaotic noise, different stages of noise and clarity are discovered, displayed and combined.

This filtering process however overstrains the system. The filters begin to leak; holes, scratches and tears appear. Sounds that should have been erased by the filters get through the system and a background noise emerges which over time evolves and becomes more and more present. Simultaneously the filtering processes that happen in the foreground become unstable, disappear into the background noise which now has become the main focus, a new filter has emerged through the leaks that appeared in the system.