The voice and the machine- and the voice in the machine
– now you see me, now you don’t-
Artistic Research in voice, live electronics and improvised interplay
Trondheim, February 2012
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Faculty of Humanities
Department of Music
The Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme
Preface, Abstract & Acknowledgements
When I was introduced to musical improvisation, it changed the way I experienced music, both as a listener and a performer. The unpredictability and the processual character of the interplay gave an intense feeling of freedom and excitement, quite different from earlier experiences. I wanted to take part in this type of interplay. I wanted to be in a new position as a performer; to create the music while playing it.
When I discovered the possibility of changing voice sound and the use of it as musical material through live electronics, this also put me in a new position as a performer. I could take part in the improvised interplay in new ways.
This did not make me want to leave my position as a singer, the acoustic voice sound and the melodic lines and lyrics were important parts of my identity as a performer. I just wanted to have other opportunities as well.
In 2008 I became a fellow in the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme. The goal for my research was to explore further these opportunities. The following reflection is about this exploration.
The basic focus of this project is how the use of live electronics can open up new musical possibilities and roles for the improvising vocalist in the musical interplay. The project is rooted in my background as a vocalist taking part in what could be called the Modern European Jazz Scene, and the musicians I have been cooperating with in this project are all important contributors in this musical field. The project has been carried out as an artistic research, where the artistic result has been presented in the form of recorded music and concerts. Recordings of the music are also presented as sound examples in this critical reflection. The main focus areas in this artistic research project are the following:
• I have explored how the use of live electronic processing can open up for new musical parameters, compared to the sole acoustic voice as instrument in music. These new possibilities are related to the experience of how electronic processing can create distance from and transformation of the natural voice sound.
• Furthermore, I have investigated how the use of these parameters can create new roles for the vocalist in the improvised interplay of my genre.
• As a part of my project I have also explored how an audio tracking system created for the theatre scene can be used as a live electronic tool for an a capella ensemble, and contribute to new strategies in the improvised performance.
• In another part of my research I have studied artistic possibilities through implementing the role of the storyteller in a musical performance with vocal and live electronics. I have wanted to find out more about how this implementation affects the relationship between performer and audience, and the perception of the performance as a whole. This part of my project has been carried out as a solo performance, in research collaboration with musicologist Andreas Bergsland. The research is using audience feedback, both to feed the artistic process, and to generate new knowledge about the perception of the performance.
I would like to thank my supervisors in this project, professor Carl Haakon Waadeland at Department of Music, NTNU, and performer and composer Maja Ratkje, Oslo, for inspiring and interesting conversations, critical questions and comments on my work, and also for encouragement and support when needed.
I would like to thank Andreas Bergsland, who has been a very important part of this project from before it started. I will thank him both for our research collaboration, and for being a great colleague at Department of Music, with passion for, great interest in, and immense knowledge about his field.
I will thank Siri Gjære who has contributed with text, ideas and important perspectives, both in the work with “Eugenie- short story of sound”, and in the work with “Nature is not Beautiful”. I would also like to thank Tale Næss for important and inspiring perspectives, especially in my work with “Eugenie-short story of sound.
To be a part of the Department of Music, NTNU, and of the collegial community at the Music Technology Section has been extremely valuable. Besides Andreas Bergsland, I therefore want to thank Trond Engum, Sigurd Saue, Øyvind Brandtsegg, Bernt Isak Wærstad, and also Claus Sohn Andersen and fellow Mattis Kleppen, for helpful interest, fruitful discussions, supporting comments and a great sense of humour.
I have played with a lot of great musicians during this project. Some of them will be introduced further in this reflection, but all of them have contributed to my process, through playing, rehearsing, recording, discussing, performing. I therefore would like to thank: Per Oddvar Johansen, Krister Jonsson, Marilyn Mazur, Klaus Hovman, Makiko Hirabayashi, Eivind Aarset, Jacob Buchanan, Arnfinn Killingren, T-EMP: Trond Engum, Ingrid Lode, Øyvind Brandtsegg, Carl Haakon Waadeland, Bernt Isak Wærstad, and all of the vocalists in Trondheim Voices. And I would like to thank especially the ones that will be presented in this reflection: Thomas Strønen, Michael Duch, Tor Haugerud, Ståle Storløkken, Hans Magnus Ryan and Stian Westerhus.
I want to thank my “web- mentor” Christopher Gotaas at Jonny Snorkel for designing my website and making me able to administrate it.
I would also like to thank my mother Kari and my sisters Gro and Siv for their support and encouragement.
Finally, I have to thank my near family. My sons, Amund and Emil: for their patience and concern in the very intense last period of the project. And more than anything my friend, colleague and husband Ståle Storløkken: for practical help on every level, and for sharing important perspectives and experiences at (almost) any time of day. For his great support, patience and encouragement.