Three Mads Emil Dreyer world premieres

In March 2023, three new works by Mads Emil Dreyer will be premiered within just 10 days. We spoke with the composer about the works, the integration of electronic and acoustic sound and about investigating aesthetic or technical aspects of the music in series.

Miniature 5 was written for Ensemble Resilience, who will premiere the work on 4 March. The work is part of a series in which Mads Emil Dreyer investigates ways of working with electronics in music in a more organic way. "I have always worked with electronics in my pieces," says Mads Emil Dreyer. "Often, I have controlled the electronics myself while the musicians played their acoustic instruments, and the electronic sound came out of speakers that had very little to do with the acoustic instruments. With this series, I try to integrate the two separate worlds.”

In the Miniature series, the integration of the two worlds takes place both in the musicians' performance and through sound sources. Ensemble Resilience consists of percussion, piano, clarinet and violin, but the clarinettist is the only one who only plays his own acoustic instrument. The percussionist and pianist play hybrid instruments, which are small keyboards, glockenspiels and xylophones in one, and the violinist controls electronics with a foot pedal. "The electronic sound comes out of small transducers, it is the small components in your speaker that make the membrane vibrate," Mads Emil Dreyer explains.

The transducers are placed on the hybrid instruments and the violin, causing them to vibrate a bit like a speaker so that the electronic sound resonates through the acoustic instruments. "Hopefully, this means that you will experience a fusion of the acoustic and electronic sound, which are otherwise often separated," says Mads Emil Dreyer.

In Miniature 5, the electronic sound is more subtly present than in several of Mads Emil Dreyer's previous works, he explains. The electronic sound is limited to some simple sine-tone structures, which mimic the acoustic instruments, and exist in the background like a vibrating shadow.

Unfolding ideas in chapters

Mads Emil Dreyer has worked with the series format for quite some time as a way of making small, limited investigations of a larger, fundamental idea. ‟It comes from the desire to explore an area, either aesthetically, stylistically or technically. It has been conducive to my curiosity to say that each individual work does not necessarily have to contain the entire concept unfolded, but that I can explore it within several chapters.”

The Miniature series now spans five works, and Mads Emil Dreyer has moved on to new investigations. On 10 March, the solo piece Figure 1 written for the percussionist Lorenzo Colombo will be premiered, and on 14 March, Figure 2 will be premiered by Sistro Duo.

"In the Figure series, I borrow a little more from an aesthetic that comes from electronic music," says Mads Emil Dreyer. ‟The pieces are divided into short movements, they are repetitive and ostinato-driven with a form of ritual expression. There is not a linear progression like a story with dramatic intensification, tension and relief, etc. The works are made up of small situations or small static vignettes of a kind that do not really change but are just there for a few minutes at a time, and then something else comes after," the composer explains, adding that he hopes the audience will experience the music as small rituals.

"This way of thinking and working with form is a development away from many of the works I have made in the past," says Mads Emil Dreyer and elaborates that his works have previously been thought of in a more processual manner, as something that develops organically in extended structures.

"I am hoping that the form of the individual Figure pieces can also be seen in an expanded format if you for instance put them together as a full concert programme," says Mads Emil Dreyer, and reflects on the usual format on the scene of new compositional music, where the concerts usually consist of works by a handful of different composers. "I might be a little envious of the concert formats in other genres, where it is just one band or one composer behind everything. There are of course a lot of logistical reasons why it is like this, but I can't help but think about what could be done to work with some other formats as well.”


Mads Emil Dreyer: Miniature 5 · 4 March, Festival Dag in de Branding, The Hague (NL), 16:30 · Ensemble Resilience · Info

Mads Emil Dreyer: Figure 1 · 10 March, XI National Percussion Workshop Gdánsk (PL) · Lorenzo Colombo · Info 

Mads Emil Dreyer: Figure 2 · 14 March, KoncertKirken, Copenhagen (DK), 19:30 · Sistro Duo · Info