Archive for March, 2008



OKO: Oslo Chamber orchestra
I have started a workshop with Oslo Chamber Orchestra on use of live-electronics, improvisation, instruction-pieces and extended playing techniques. In the concert on April 30th at NMH we will also perform pieces by Porter and Barber.  In this project Edvin Østvik and Alwynne Pritchard will join me.


2007-2008 concerts/composers

This project includes commissioned works by Henrik Hellstenius, Jon Hegre, Thomas Dahl and Peter Tornquist. Furthermore Multimorf  I by Knut Vaage for improvised electric violin, video, brass band and interactive electronics The piece was premiered at Brasswind in Bergen in September 2007 with Stavanger Brassband conducted by Knut Vaage. The piece will be developed into a solo piece with live- electronics and video.

Concerts Autumn 2007:

I have been working on two big musical projects Autumn 2007.
Henrik Hellstenius: Victoria Counting I for solo electric violin and live electronics, and Knut Vaage: Multimorf I.
I have been having 3 solo-concerts, two of them together with Fat Battery.
5.9 2007  Concert at Parkteatret first performance of “Victoria Counting I” Max/Msp programming by Edvin Østvik, as well as playing Alwynne Pritchard “To the Ground” for solo el. violin and electronics. In this concert we played one half with own improvisations with Fat Battery.
The second concert was 29.9 2007 at USF Verftet in Bergen. This was the first performance of Knut Vaage,s Multimorf I with Stavanger Brassband conducted by Vaage and with HC Gilje on video.
On the same day I was also holding a short speech on the thema: Working with electronics as a performer as well as playing Electra by Vaage a piece written for me in 2003.
The third concert was in Stavanger october 26th.
Here I played a reversed version of Victoria Counting I, Electra and  a half of free impro with fat Battery.

The artistic  process with Victoria Counting I
Starting early in August 2007 practicing on “Victoria Counting I” by Henrik Hellstenius.
In this piece my violin is tuned differently:  not GDAE, but G dsharp asharp E.
I also have to count in two different languages as well as playing and moving on stage using some objekts.
There are several challenges with this piece:
Multitasking: I have to transpose, listen to sound-files, as well as counting myself and sometimes play at a different speed. Moving on stage as well as moving objects ( a pair of my daughters slippers, a working glove, a plate and a mobile phone) has to be moved  during the piece.

To be able to listen to the right soundfile there are sometimes 2-4 going on at the same time, and to be able to play and listen to the right  one, we had to  work on playing the soundfiles at different volumes. In Stavanger we used a in-earmonitor which was much better. Courrses taken and competence gained this Autumn in: Presentation-theory, Keenote, Max/Msp, Ableton Live, mulitasking, some more knowledge on sensors, computertheory, improvisation.

Autumn 2008

I am working on the soloversion in Multimorf at the moment preparing for a concert in Oslo Concert hall arranged by the Research Council of Norway. It is going to be much shorter than the first version, 5-8 minutes. I am realising during this process that the music looks more like an interface than a score. My instructions is about how to fill up the buffers with variation in material, and how to make an interesting structure in the morphing process. “Morphing is a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one image into another through a seamless transition. Most often it is used to depict one person turning into another through some magical or technological means or as part of a fantasy or surreal sequence. Traditionally such a depiction would be achieved through cross-fading techniques on film. Since the early 1990s, this has been replaced by computer software to create more realistic transitions.” wikipedia 15.8 2008

Knut Vaage uses this morphing technique to change one musical cell to another, letting the performer having much freedom. His role becomes more like a director or a source of musical inspiration. The piece does not have musical time, you can stay in your cell as long as it fells musically meaningfull. He has composed small exercises to get to know the different cells, and to be able to vary the material. The performer does not have to use this exercises in performance.



Sensorbow is a bow where all bowing parameters (speed, position, bow force, tilt, etc.) continuously are recorded. By monitoring a number of bowing parameters during playing a number of sound-feature variables may be controlled in the computer. In this way the sensorbow replaces keyboard, mouse, pedals, etc, in triggering/varying processes and sound files programmed in Max/MSP or similar programmes. The string player’s range of sound possibility will be substantially expanded. The “Hyperbow” designed by Diana Young a Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 has already been used by soloists like the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the violinist Joshua Bell, and has been utilized in works of several American and English composers.

NMH will together Prof. Knut Guettler and Hans Wilmers at NOTAM, designing a sensorbow. I am a part of this project and our first plan is to make a case study of Henrik Hellstenius, piece “Victoria Counts” using sensorbow to control sound and video.
I have furthermore, in order to control sound and video, started collaboration with Alexander Refsum Jensenius, post doctorate at the University of Oslo and teacher at the State Academy of music focusing on movement/sound interface within NIME (“New Instruments for Musical Expressivity”).

Hans Wilmers at Notam and Knut Guettler has worked on the sensorbow and in April 2008 the electronics where finished and we could start to see numbers come out of the different parameters of the bow. I have been used as a consultant where to place the sensors and the battery. We were accepted with a poster which is going to be presented at the ICMC August 28.

Notam and NMH,s sensorbow



Max/MSP from Cycling74 facilitates real-time manipulation of the sound signal, a feature that provides me with tools for experimenting with sounds and playing techniques in an interactive manner. In order to make own patches for improvisation, and to understand the “personality” of Max/MSP I have this autumn taken classes with Alexander Refsum Jensenius in Max/ MSP. I will continue working on this issues as well as discussing it with my main supervisor Ivar Frounberg. He is doing a FOU research on Max/MSP at the Norwegian State Academy of music.


live electronics

I have since 2000 worked with live electronics, first in the duo Kyberia with cellist Tanja Orning in a piece by Natasha Barret and later in my solo project starting at the Autunnale-festival in 2003. In this concert I premiered pieces with live electronics by Knut Vaage and Øyvind Brandtsegg as well as other pieces with electronics by Henrik Hellstenius, Sven Lyder Kahrs and Arne Nordheim. The realization for me at this concert was the encore where Thorolf Thuestad and Øyvind Brandtsegg (live electronics), Edvin Østvik (percussion) and myself used live electronics as an improvisation tool.
For me that was the spark for further research and the development of my project.
It was also the start of the improvisation group Fat Battery. Since then one of my main focus has been to try to develop a interesting and transparent sound landscape and learn to interact with he computer more and more freely.


electric violin

The advantage of an electric violin compared to the acoustic one is that it has no resonance box, but has built-in microphones like an electric guitar. This makes the signal suitable for sound processing without experiencing feedback problems. With the electric violin even very faint signals may be amplified: e.g., resonances from the tuning pegs, fingerboard or other body parts, to be used for sound effects. I have since 1999 played on a Skyinbow-violin but I am planning to buy a second instrument with more technical abilities. I will soon try out a zeta-violin with midi-controller and if possible a Jensen violin.



This is the official blogg for Victoria Johnson, a research fellow within the Norwegian Research Fellowship for the Arts programme at the Norwegian state Academy of music (NMH).
The name of the project is Electric violin in digital space, an attempt to develop a new digital space where electric violin will meet electronics, video, text, objects and light.
I am half a year into the project, and it has been an interesting time for me.
I have got great support from my main supervisor prof. Ivar Frounberg (NMH) and lately also from my new co supervisor prof. Lei Cox at Bergen national Academy for the Arts.
I am at that point where I am finished with my reversed project description and done several concerts in the project, so now it is time to share some of my thoughts, ideas discoveries and challenges.

March 2008