Ejnar Kanding World Premiere

Ejnar Kanding is known for his uniquely colourful music, uniting electronic and acoustic sound in complex textures and delicate simplicity. On 1 June his new piece Nordic Extraction is premiered by Rudersdal Kammersolister at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. On 3 June his work Stillstehen is released as a digital album recorded by Ensemble Adapter. Edition·S asked the composer a few questions about his sources of inspiration, his work with live electronics and more.

How would you describe your work Nordic Extraction?

Nordic Extraction is my take on the investigation of characteristic elements common to the Nordic mind. What can we extract from the notion of being Nordic? Something cultural, something related to language, something based on nature? In the process, I have encountered the question of whether the concept of a Nordic mind even makes sense. I will let others decide the relevance of these reflections, but the music as it sounds and exists as a complete musical form is - from my point of view - interesting in itself.

You will hear sounds that bring associations of wind and fire. Piano motives resembling birdsong. Soft ostinati in 14, 13, 11 and 7 semiquavers. A Phrygian fugue resembling baroque. Lengthy lonesome melodies in homophonic textures: moaning or passionate?

What is the role of electronics in Nordic Extraction and in your music in general? How do you include electronics in your compositional process?

Figuratively speaking, I perceive the acoustic sound as the domain of the real and the electronic sound as the surreal. It is reality and an imaginary reflection of it. Specifically, this means that I almost always compose for acoustic instruments, and their sound and timbre are then transformed by the computer. This is usually described as live electronics, a term that covers various approaches to combining electronics and musicians. I am particularly interested in the field called real-time processing, in which the electronic sound is created the moment the work is performed as opposed to the electronic sound consisting of an already completed backing track. What attracts me to this approach is the fact that the electronics are created on the spot equal to the musicians' performance. The musicians are not constrained by a fixed soundscape. Instead, the real-time processing follows the lead of the musicians.

In Nordic Extraction I am working with a specific real-time sampling technique that allows me to have the same music sounding in various tempi and transpositions. Even though the music applies tonal progressions these are put into perspective by close, chromatic progressions and at the same time their sound is sustained and the result is a sort of complex, chromatic tonality, complex polyrhythm and a kind of augmentation canon all at the same time. I have built the sampler in the software Max 8 with so-called mc objects.

In general, I work with the score parallel with the electronics. Ideas and discoveries in one domain influence the other.

You have worked with a series of works with Nordic titles and themes. Which elements of the Nordic inspire you, and how is it reflected in the works?

It is three works composed in 2020-21: Nordic Broken, Nordic Fragments and Nordic Extraction. They have in common the use of the piano and live electronics and are inspired by life in Scandinavia. The work series itself is characterized by music with Nordic moods. It is the dawning morning that looms hopefully in the east. And the melancholy dusk when the sun colours the northern sky in red-orange colours. Spring and Autumn with morning and evening shadows reminiscent of the elasticity of life. The ecstatic endless bright summer nights, and the endless pensive long winter evenings. Morning mist over the field bug, the calm glitter of the water in the moonlight. The powerful greenery of spring, the explosion of Autumn in diverse colours, the bright light of winter, and the long warm evenings of Summer.

On 3 June, your work Stillstehen recorded by Ensemble Adapter is released. What is the idea behind that work and can you say something about its aesthetic expression?

Where the Nordic works are tonal and accommodating, Stillstehen is introverted and immersive, shaped by abstract atonal symmetrical structures. The electronics in this work focus on various kinds of noise. Recordings of analogue noise, digital noise, filtrated white noise, tone-like noise in various chords and drones.

The fundamental idea of the work cycle Stillstehen is repetition during constant change; thus the title means stationary, standstill and to stand still. I focus on the static – the seemingly immobile, where the microscopic changes in the music gradually move towards new states of stagnation. Each movement has a headline that suggests a mood or a picture; they are not to be understood narratively but merely like an association: Windstille (a calm wind), Stille Ocean (Pacific Ocean), Stille Wasser (still waters), Stille Musik (quiet music) and Stille Ruhe (quiet peace).

First, four six-minute trio movements are heard, in which the four possible combinations of three instruments are explored. The big quartet of 23-25 minutes comes after the four trios, which can be experienced as a development of the first four movements.

In recent years, a number of your works have been released as digital albums and reached a quite large group of listeners. Nordic Fragments 1 has been streamed more than 150.000 times on Amazon Music. What do you hope for the audience to take away from listening to your music?

In one context I like to listen to or play one kind of music, and in others, I enjoy or immerse in completely different kinds of music. With the enormous amounts of music available online today, I imagine that many of us find pleasure and reverie in very different music. In the same way, I enjoy composing different kinds of music. Nevertheless, every piece is kept strictly in a certain form of expression or aesthetic so I don't mix all sorts of styles in one piece.

Every style has a space where it belongs and seems natural. In that way, I respect the space I am in, including the challenges it brings to emerge in a musical experience and to pass it on. Therefore I wish that people can be met by my music in a way that it creates a space where they can open up and be inspired. I do not wish to pressure or push people, but I hope that my music can be an encompassing, loving light that meets people where they are in life with comfort, immersion, insight and joy.

Find more information about the concert on 1 June here >>