Relatively tranquil

As part of Ultima 2011, Bjarne Kvinnsland’s work Relatively tranquil will be premiered on Saturday, September 17. The concert will take place at the event EXIT at Oslo National Academy of the Arts at 6 pm. The concert will be performed by Rolf-Erik Nystrøm on the saxophone, Eirik Raude and Markus Hernes on percussion, and Kvinnsland on electronics. Anne Grete Eriksen is in charge of the choreography.

Kvinnsland envisions that the concert will show how areas in Oslo and around Oslo have positive sound factors. It is a travel between natural and cultural sounds — an exploration of the music emanating from birds, wind, water, people and machines. The concert is a study of acoustic ecology, but also lets musicians and the audience discover that certain sounds are essential for a happy life.

All musicians in the project have traveled into the forest to collect and explore these sounds. They have all been challenged in order to attain a new understanding of the sounds that are ubiquitous right outside Oslo.

The musicians in this project have spent years developing musical expressions that are rooted to the aesthetics of nature, and an awareness of the rhythmical structures that are integral qualities of the sound material, where the most important task is to use this energy musically. Thus, the rhythmical structures are not created, but rather based upon nature, and this naturally occurring randomness can give the music several dimensions of rhythmical structures and create a degree of tension between traditional western pulse, natural pulse and the lack of pulse, something which can create a foundation for completely new compositional methods.

The combined soundscape of wind, water and birds are central to this project. These sounds are primarily stochatic, and human beings have evolved to develop a symbiosis with these types of sounds. They make us feel comfortable because they have always been there. It is only in the course of the last 250 years, after the industrial revolution, that people have started to live in places where none of these stochatic sounds exist. Our cities are composed of many powerful and pervasive sounds such as cars, wheels and horns, airplanes and a sea of warning sounds and other people’s chatter. Cities where wind, water and birds are exchanged with urban sounds have given two results.

One is stress. Our auditory processing system — ears and brain — must work overtime to decipher noise every day. This is hard work, and it makes you tired. Many people have to work in office environments where the sound level is over 80 decibels. The other result is that we truly long for the sound of wind, water and birds. The concert Relativily tranquil takes sounds from outside the city back into the city!

Bjarne Kvinnsland used Notam’s Studio Nordheim to treat the sounds that were recorded in the forest, and was aided by Cato Langnes during recording and in the studio.