On October 29th Cycle Festival, Iceland will feature a concert of six new works of mine bundled in the title ‘Reflections over Verisimilitude’. South Iceland Chamber Choir will be singing alongside their echoes diffused over multiple speakers as if you’re standing in various fictional landscapes. The echoes navigate through space, history and fiction.
One of the six songs is ‘Eru Ur’ which translates into ‘Are Ur’ in English. I was kindly invited to stay over in Sígrun’s Summerhouse on Snaefellsnes when we were filming and recording the choir on location. Snaefellsjökull is the volcanic glacier and the beating heart of the peninsula and there is no better way to describe the energy and feeling coming from this Magnificence than that you want to embrace it’s presence. Whenever Sígrun gets the chance she does. Feeling ur.
It’s a wordless feeling I wanted to set to music. I tried to describe it in lyrics, but this would only making it less powerful. It’s a zingy beautiful feeling, serene, and it is as if it fills you with oxygen, in the lungs and in the heart and mind. As if it echoes in yourself and through time, yet simultaneously also over the mountains into the far distance.
How can I constraint the singers with a score to express this ‘ur’ feeling? I can’t. How can I notate this freedom in a constraint way? I don’t want to.
I’ve used ink and brush to indicate the strokes of sound individual singers sing. It only takes one look on the paper and then focus on the singing. A visual representation of how it should sound together as a choir. Which makes for an homogeneous flow of frequencies over time. More like water. But this song is mountainous. In the mountains some frequencies are caught on cragged surfaces, resonate in cavities and echo widely through gorges and passes.
These ‘mountainous’ echo parts are digitally generated by running the sounds picked up by microphones each singer is wearing through Live and Reaktor music software diffused over multiple speakers through the performance space.
It’s only suitable to notate these echo parts on the score in digitally generated ‘pencil’ lines in contrast to the singer’s brush strokes. Visualising how the choir’s sounds are filtered and manipulated over time in a freely way.
This is a recording of the idea at a workshop with choir in June. It’s a sketch, we are trying things out, you can hear a cough and a chair squeak. It will be different at the concert.