Pantone 448C with Cumin
"As a flutist, part of my musical career has been about coloring or spicing up a Western musical arrangement. The uncertainty of whether the flute is perceived as primitive or whether my skills are not sufficient for the project has characterized my musical development. Spice and color have in my eyes been perceived as something unimportant and superficial, an element that can be removed without affecting the musical backbone. My distaste for the words "spice and color" has triggered several thoughts.
In the context of how European art history has been presented as ultimate, complex and scientific, I have become accustomed to underestimating my own cultural heritage. I have tried to reinforce the awareness that my artistic expression does not have to be an exotic spice to be contextualized or processed by someone else. Arranging my own music feels like a liberation where I can choose the format and set the rules.
Pantone 448 C is considered one of the least appealing colors, while cumin is listed as one of the world's most affordable spices.
The music will be largely inspired by Carnatic classical music, Indian film music and Tamil folk music. More specifically, composers such as Thyagaraja Swamigal and A.R. Rahman. Thyagaraja Swamigal is an Indian composer from the early 1880s whom I admire for his ability to create distinctive melodic lines. As a youngster trying to memorize his compositions, I became very interested in isolating segments of the melody lines and then realizing how strong they are when they stand alone. Since then, I have had a great fascination with composers who are able to create such sophisticated melody lines that fulfill multiple roles.
As a child, I grew up listening to film music composer A.R. Rahman a lot. Many of Rahman's compositions from the 90s have very simple and warm melodies that are enhanced with sparse but ingenious chord progressions and bass lines.
In Carnatic classical music, the melody line is very important because it carries much of the rhythmic and harmonic information. This is because the melody is often complex and contains many varieties of rhythms and notes that give the music its unique character. It is typical that miruthangam and other rhythm instruments are less likely to play something groove-based, but instead closely follow the melody line and give it support and dynamics.
On the songs that I choose to be groove-based, or that have repetitive melody lines, I will focus on building up a complex polyrhythmic structure using percussion and string instruments. Building up heavy and dense rhythm patterns is one of my areas of expertise. I have explored this a lot through programming rhythms on different DAWs (music workstations).
Since I've always arranged music in DAW, I've developed compositional techniques that allow me to work a lot independently. When arranging music I work with midi programming, but I also sample and manipulate sounds I record so that I can create sounds and techniques I don't have available acoustically. I use the flute as a tool to develop harmonies, rhythms and melody lines. As part of my working method, I often think about both arrangement and sound design. I also like to work out part of the sound design in order to imagine the end result."
Mira Thiruchelvam - perhaps best known to many from 9 Degrees North and more recently as a musician, composer and arranger with and for Gutu Abera - is definitely one of the new strong voices, significantly creating and developing music across frameworks and genres. For the latter artist, she recently won Best African Jazz of the Year for her composition "Demi". Her traditional background is from Sri Lanka, but she was born and raised in Bergen, where she started playing the bamboo flute at the age of eight (partly under duress, according to her). She has apprenticed with some of the foremost masters of South Indian/Sri Lankan traditional music, and is now a master herself, both on the instrument and in the musical form. She also plays the guitar and sings. She writes her lyrics in Tamil. When she received the prestigious Edvard Prize (TONO's songwriter and lyricist award) in 2020, the jury stated that her compositions are fearless and liberating, and that her songs are performed with a rare presence.
Despite her young age, Mira has already made a name for herself as a composer, performer and frontwoman in a variety of contexts. She is a sought-after collaborator, and has won numerous awards and received many honors for the music she makes and, not least, conveys to the audience in a close, genuine and energetic way. In addition, she has a solid musical education and extensive experience, also as a producer. Mira combines traditional Sri Lankan music with expressions and impulses from other world music and other genres in a fearless and successful way.
With this project, we are stretching the established concept of jazz a bit and moving into an exciting, far-reaching musical landscape, with rhythm and instrumentation. With VNJE, Mira wants to create music with elements from a variety of styles and expressions. She wants to explore harmonies with different ragas (melody lines), creating melodic pegs to improvise around, as well as tightly notated parts, with open passages that allow for playfulness and improvisation. In keyword form: Time changes, long complex unison melodic lines, fragmented compositions, multi-part airy and spontaneous chorus, and interplay between acoustic and electric guitar, oud and violin (pizzicato) that can create dense arpeggio figures. She will use electronic modular synth along with keyboard and Indian harmonium as transitions/voice creating instruments. There will be a clear rhythmic framework, with miruthangam as an important element. The composition will be based on Carnatic classical music, i.e. a South Indian classical music tradition, and she uses a compositional style inspired by the Carnatic composer Thiyagaraja Swamikal.
The ensemble consists of 11 musicians, several of whom play several different instruments. Bergen has a strong, varied, genre-crossing and innovative musical environment, but when it comes to exactly the type of musical qualities that Mira is looking for here, we also bring in several players living in Oslo - musicians she knows from previous projects and has played with before. This project is a good opportunity and a great opportunity to put a stronger focus on this musical expression in our own region, and at the same time to strengthen the ties between musicians from different environments, both geographically and in terms of expression.
As Mira herself says: I hope the line-up and composition of musicians will create curiosity among different audiences. The music will be experimental, but will also appeal to music lovers who are used to listening to music from the Middle East, South Asia and East Africa.
Trained in classical North Indian song - with all that entails in terms of note system and ornamentation - and Western composition, PhD in music and associate professor at the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo. Also plays harmonium and most things with keys.
Singer and oud player with origins and musical education from Syria. Interested in introducing oud in new and non-traditional contexts, as well as finding the musical common ground between Arabic and Norwegian traditional music. Playful melodist and tremendous soloist.
Violin virtuoso folk musician with Spellemann nomination and several own projects, as well as guest appearances with Kaada and Karpe. Bridge builder between jazz and Indian raga. Education from both North Indian and Western classical music, as well as a background in South Indian music, ornamentation and improvisation methods.
Norwegian-Tamil musician, composer and teacher, specializing in the miruthangam drum. He founded the Nathantham music school and has taught hundreds of students to play the miruthangam. He also composes film music and releases solo albums. "Advanced rhythm" is just the first letter...
Vocalist and percussionist from Trondheim, with one foot in Greece. Composer for Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and vocalist in Broen and Gurls. Mixes folk music, world music, soul and storytelling about roots.
Pop pianist and singer with djubde. Oda Felicia Sigstad Abdelmaguid has been working for the last fifteen years on the audio-visual art project "The Huntington Chorea Project", an evolving project to raise awareness of Huntington's disease. She will be playing keys as well as choreographing.
Award-winning drummer and percussionist in Building Instrument, Strings & Timpani and Erlend Apneseth Trio. Premise supplier on the Norwegian improv scene, often together with Stephan Meidell.
Chris Holm has a low-frequency background from Bloody Beach, Young Dreams and Orion's Belt and plays with artists such as Vinni, Alan Walker and Sondre Lerche. He has his own solo project where he also flourishes as a songwriter, he has, among other things, written the music for the DNS performance Sytten Somrar together with Thea Hjelmeland.
Star saxophonist with a recent doctorate. Alternating between life as a pop star in Datarock, and constantly exploring, curious and innovative music in his own projects, together with, among others, 'Snah' from Motorpsycho. Background from The Core, Ultralyd, Zanussi 5, Crimetime Orchestras and a million other bands.
Quiet guitar hero. As a member of Krøyt, Dingobats, BMX, Voksne Herrers Orkester, Skydive and St Satan, or as a hired gun for Lill Lindfors, Ephemera and Herborg Kråkevik, Thomas Dahl always improves the musicians and music around him. He has incredible technical skills which he demonstrates in tasteful doses, combined with a genre-crossing enthusiasm for everything from metal to free jazz to pop.