3.2.3 Playing with zones


Bergsland’s natural premise and central zone, and Lane’s real-world experience, seem to overlap, to some extent. It seems that Bergsland’s natural premise is somewhat stronger; you can probably move away from the intelligibly speaking radio voice and still perceive a voice sound as a real world sound. Still, the movement from the central zone towards the peripheral zone is also, for me, experienced as moving from the real world towards a more abstract world. The range between these two zones or ‘worlds’, and the potential for play within it, is something that I recognise as being a musical parameter in my own work. I will exemplify this by looking at the improvisation “Spring is like a perhaps hand” and focusing on these zones.

Example III, 3: “Spring is like a perhaps hand”, from the CD Numb, number BOL + Snah & Westerhus 2012


This improvisation has a text, a poem by E.E. Cummins, as a starting point. I work with the words of the text in four different ways:

– 0.20: The text (meaning) spoken in a natural real world mode, a central zone.

– 1.18 A more sound-oriented use of the text, repeating it, reciting it more rapidly and floating, and also using a pitch-shift effect that makes it less natural, less meaningful, and more peripheral.

– 2.07 A more traditional, musical element: a melodic “refrain” using a repeated line from the text (meaning). Using unnatural pitch-shifting, and singing the words instead of talking, I experience this as a step away from the natural/real world. I am somewhere between; moving towards the peripheral, but still with a very recognisable voice sound.

– 4.02 A whispered natural text (meaning) brought “close” by using a compressor, resembles the real world, moving towards the central zone.


This improvisation, in my experience, moves between different zones/worlds, and with a varied perception of text/meaning throughout the piece. It is obvious that this improvisation would be very different without my use of effects and a compressor. It is also clear that the use of effects cannot be understood as an isolated parameter, but is strongly interrelated with how I use my voice. Finally, the interplay with the band is of great importance as regards both the choice of sounds and the way I use my voice. Still, it is clear to me that the experience of unnaturalness, or abstraction, and also the experience of nearness, relates to the perceived meaning and real world.


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