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Concert September 3, 2010

At the concert, Alexander Refsum Jensenius and I performed our piece Transformation, exploring improvisation in time and space during this concert that also featured pieces by Henrik Hellstenius, Thomas Dahl and an improvisation by Victoria Johnson and Peter Tornquist.

Alexander and I have been collaborating for several years on exploration of various types of technologies for musical expression. The piece currently presented is based on video analysis using modules from the Musical Gestures Toolbox in Jamoma and CataRT.

By moving inside a seemingly empty space, I have slowly explored a sonic landscape of thousands of short fragments of various violin sounds. The space thus becomes a musical entity in itself, a space that the violinist both controls and interacts with at the same time. What seemed to be an empty space at first, is left as a sonic space in our memory when the piece ends.

For Victoria Counting IV we used the new visual ideas from the workshop (see previous posts), and added a new direction, made mainly by Henrik Hellstenius. The new direction made me very busy on stage, at first sitting on a low stool, after a while started to run when playing, and looking for my lost photos when at the same time looking at all the photos from my life.

From the dress rehearsal, kneeling on the little stool.


workshop August 5-6 & 10

I have decided to make a new version of Victoria Counts by Henrik Hellstenius without video and with a new version of the staging. Henrik has decided to do the main work with the new staging himself, being the person who knows the piece the best (together with me :-D).

A visual idea, using pictures from my life on the floor, almost invading me on stage. Another idea is to cut up the music in small pieces and let me search for them. Using long music stands, too long for actually looking, or very small, so that I have to sit on the floor or on a stool, almost kneeling in a kind of meditation pose. Henrik also wanted to try out using mirrors, mirroring myself, but also the audience, so that they can mirror themselves in the chaos that sometimes emerges on stage.

The music is cut into pieces, and I am kneeling in front of the small music stand.

Henrik also wanted to let me speak about my relation to the piece and how I related to the main topic, distraction vs. focus, stress versus peace, all directed and held together by the counting exercise by Gurdjieff. He wanted me to record my reflections, and also asking myself questions about the main topic. Henrik has made a mix of the sound files, and we are going to try using it in the piece to strengthen the audience’s understanding of the main topic. Each time I work with this piece and have to be confronted with my life, it always makes me emotional. It’s very difficult to keep a distance when the whole thing is actually about your own stuff.

Henrik and Victoria trying out putting photos of Victoria's life on the floor

Sunniva Bodvin, who is going to be the scenographer in my project, was a great help, seeing all the new props from the outside. We will be able to evaluate the new staging and the new props, and how it influences the piece, on the concert on Sep 3. Strangely enough, after working with Victoria counts for almost 4 years, we still do not completely know how to express the core of the piece. The music is very abstract, but of course, it also has various dramatical levels. It moves from almost total silence to cacophonies of domestic sounds; my voice, almost screaming, counting, sound processing and loud violin playing.

Not only a composer.



On december 18th 2009 was in Oslo concert-hall listening/watching Leif Ove Andsnes and the south African visual artist Robin Rohde performance. Their aim has been to make the “impossible possible, and how put visuals to music in a way that the visuals builds up the musical material and gives unity”.

The program consisted of different classical pierces and one more modern by Lacher with prepared piano

Schumann : Kinderszenen
Mussorgskij: 3-4 pieces
Larcher: Short pieces
Mussorgskij: “Pictures at an Exibition”

I will look into the documentation of this project, and heard there should be a documentary at NRK.

Their methods of working might be interesting for my project.

It is great that such a fantastic pianist and musical communicator as Leif Ove Andsnes also does projects were he experiments with new ways of communicating with the audience.


audiovisual satelite

On May 7th Mattias Arvasstson and I had our performance at the Museum of contemporary Art in Oslo. We tried out the idea of using the movement, colours and pulsation of the video as a musical score, using Mattias,s object for projection. That meant that we did not have to have any walls for projection and did not have to interfere into the exhibition as such. Originally it had been the meaning that the concert installation should take place in the big exhibition room. It is very light in Norway during the summertime and i realised that during one of the visits to the museum that this room was much too light for projection.IMG_5222 We ended up to get a beautiful empty room at the second floor. Many thanks to Anna Lindblad at the the Museum of Contemporary Art who helped us to get this space and to arrange the concert.

On photo: The original space for the performance.

For the first time I played a concert without any soundperson there. I realised that the acoustics changed  a bit when the audience came, and I think I will bring a stage monitor for the next performance. I used 6 genelecs, one on the object and the one with pure violinsound behind  me, and the rest in in each corner. Again I used the a granulation process using 3 buffers with different lengths, pitching and grainlength. Thanks to Edvin Østvik for the beautiful and user-friendly maxpatch !We had to carry all the equipment ourself which was really hard!

After rigging up we got visitors from the Academy of music, the electroacoustic composition class came to see what we where doIMG_5253ing.

On photo: The performance space

Having 9 footpedals I got a very broad setup. I am looking forward to experiment more with some smaller controllers and setup.

I will also for the next performance have visual monitor in order to see the visuals better.


Satelite on the top of the opera


It has been a very busy but interesting process working and performing the two Satellite concerts. The first one taking place at the Roof of the Norwegian opera and Ballet April 28 and the second one in a beautiful big space at the Museum of contemporary Art. Being in charge of the planning of the operaroof I had to go into the topic of projection, choice of lenses, amount of ansilumens when the goal is to have the projection as clear and big as possible. The size of the wall we wanted to project on was 14.5x 32 meters, and sunset was around 9 pm. I decided to go for 10 pm and hoped for good weather. I also had a “bad weather plan” hiring party -tents, but fortunately I did not have to go for that. On the actual day it was some scary black cloud, but it never rained! A bit cold though about 10 degrees.

To rig up PA and projectors took more planning than I would have thought. It felt like having a concert on the top of a mountain except that we had access to electricity.  I got very good support and help from Knut Vik and lot of people from the Academy of Music helped to rig down after the concert. I had decided because of the wind not to use music but have it on a PDF on the computer. Ivar Frouberg had made me a beautiful little maxpatch that could turn pages. I worked very well and secure. I was practising with the patch for about a week, in order to be able to use the foot for turning the pages (Yamaha midi FC) as well as using other pedals (fuzz, octaver, delay) For Elektra I also had to follow the maxpatch (triggers and timing) on another computer. All this technical issues worked out very well, although I from time to time during Elektra was very busy!


To get the projection as big as we got it worked out well, surrounded by the city on the big marmoreal roof. The volcano in Elektra became huge, and I became very small, which I see as an interesting contrast. The fact that the size of the projection was so big made a better communication between the music and the video. At the most I think it was around 400 people at the roof, something I founded very good.

Thanks to Ellen Roed who took some photos!

I got a lot of press on the project, also at Østlandsendingen (TV)
For links (in Norwegian only see links)


On photo: The city of Oslo seen from the top of the opera photo Lena Nielsen Universitas




Last Wednesday 14.1 I had a small workshop with the contemporary music interpretationclass at the State Academy. I made a short introduction about my project, but very soon moved into practical use of 2 different max patches. I let the students improvise with  11 sec delay with a great amout of rewerb. It is the same patch I use for Arne Nordheim Partita für Paul.  The students used a condensator mic so we had to be really careful with feedback. I do not have these problems on the electric violin so I am not used to deal with that challenge. After we worked with a granulationpacth I have used a lot in Fat Battery. In the end I did some basic improvsiation in LIVE which I think the students enjoyed the most.


concerts/workshops Autumn 2008

November 28
Concert Mannheim Signale Festival with Fat Battery.
The last concert this year was in Mannheim at the contemporary festival Signale organized by Dennis Kuhn and Siegfried Kutterer. Fat Battery played as a quartet without percussion, with lot of percussive sounds at Thorolf,s computer.
We played our set together with the two fantastic percussionists from Basel Symphony Orchestra: Szilàrd Buti and Domenico Melchiorre playing Siegfried Kutterer: “Straight Inside” in between our improvisations. Other pieces like Xenakis,s “Psappha” where combined with Vaages Multimorf II played by Thorolf Thuestad and myself.
I was impressed how this concertconcept managed to combine traditional contemporary music (a lot of different percussion pieces where performed by a huge ensemble) improvisation, sound sculpture, performance and videopieces like Corpoel and Psychodrama by Vinko Globokar. The concert where presented in a very professional way. Sound and light was here and at the concert at Basel Theater a month before was on a very high level.
The critics in the newspaper Reinpfals wrote: “The tones on the violin was unconventional they where silent, flutelike or rattling creatively manipulated by the electronics”
October 27
Concert NMH
own works with Peter Tornquist live electronics
This concert was an experiment starting from scratch. Peter and I had not decided a single thing before we went on stage. The whole performance was fully improvised, maybe going on a bit too long.
The new thing was the setup using my Genelec 5.1 from my studio together with the speakers in the Levin hall leaving the center speaker for the violin.
We wanted to achieve a feeling that the sound came from the sound source, a feeling we did not have at the Ultima concert.

Jamomaworkshop, photo: Alexander Refsum Jensenius

October 20
Jamoma workshop at the University of Oslo 3 hour introduction to Jamoma at the UIO fourMs lab.


ongoing projects

p10500642From rehersal on Mulimorf II from Oslo Concerthouse arranged by Norwegian Research Council On photo Thorolf Thuestad and Victoria Johnson. Photo: HC Gilje

I will now try to describe some of the ongoing projects I am working on:

Henrik Hellstenius: Victoria Counting II

This is an ongoing project between Henrik Hellstenius, Victoria Johnson, video artist Mattias Arvaldsson and Edvin Østvik, programming. Premiere performance of Victoria Counting I 6.9 2007 Parkteatret, Oslo. A new version will be performed at Vinterlyd at NMH 26.2 2009.
The Armenian philosopher and mystical Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff once gave a student the exercise to count from 1 to 50 and backwards seven times. This exercise should show the student how difficult it is to concentrate even on something that easy as counting. Continuous streams of thoughts, memories and associations try to take away our concentration. The composer Henrik Hellstenius has provided violinist Victoria Johnson with a piece based on this counting exercise, where also domestic sound from her familylife are mixed in. How do you keep artistic focus and be a mother of a little child at the same time? In the new version of the piece, the material goes beyond the private sphere and into the public and philosophical. The video amplifies, transforms and illustrates the inner and outer disturbances. The audience is placed around the performer, and one of the future ideas we might try out is that distance-sensors on the music stands will control the spatialization of the sound when the violinists moving towards the music stands. The piece includes video, text, 4 channels sound, soundprocessing and objects. We will work with director Jon Tombre towards the concert on Vinterlyd.
Yesterday we had a meeting with video artist Mattias Arvaldsson at NMH, looking at the hall and planning possibilities of combining audio and visuals, and how we will not make an overkill of expression by combining so many different parameters. We will use 4 screens behind the audience projected from the front, and probably parallel screens will show the same visuals.

In statu nascendi

Peter Tornquist laptop/Victoria Johnson electric violin, with Ellen Roed, video
Premiere Performance Ultima 9.10 08
In this project the creative cooperation between performer and the piece “In statu nascendi”, the evolving of the work. The project questions the idea of the closed and finished piece focusing on a cyclic development process where one performance gives the direction of the next. It is not the development of the piece we are a witness to but the performers possession of it. The videopart is to be developed by Ellen Roed in the nearest future and will explore the musical theme further. Both musician and composer are on stage performing together and their roles has been defaced.

Knut Vaage, Multimorf II

Premiere performance Oslo concerthouse 23.9 08 arranged by Norwegian Research Council
Victoria Johnson el-violin, Thorolf Thuestad, live electronics, HC Gilje, video.
Knut Vaage, video artist HC Gilje, sound designer Thorolf Thuestad and violinist Victoria Johnson uses this morphing and crossfade techniques to change one musical and visual cell to another, letting
the performers having much freedom. The composer’s role is like a director or a source of musical inspiration. The piece does not have musical time but navigates freely through the soundscape. I played this piece in the concerthouse with video and at NMH and in Theatre in Basel on the two Fat Battery concerts without video. I will play it again at the Fat Battery concert in Mannheim on November 24.

I will come back to updates on the concerts this Autumn soon.


one year past

I have used this year to clarify the content of my project in different ways. It has been done by the development and collaboration with the composers and video artists as well as using the concerts as an arena of evaluation of the project. The exploring of the sonic potential of the electric violin when it is combined with electronics has been the main topic. The concerts have been both of formal and experimental character. I have used the concerts with Fat Battery to experiment and fulfill ideas that need to be explored in my project. The solo performances have been of a more formal character.
I have realized that use of extended playing-techniques works very well when it is manipulated through the computer. This work is documented in several presentations and concerts.image452

I have also worked on extending the instrument with the use of the real-time interactive sound processing soundprogammes Max/Msp and Ableton live. This work has made it possible to perform and improvise more freely with the computer than before. Apart from the sensorbow my  research has during this year also been to get further knowledge about other possible controllers usable for a violinist. Together with Alexander R Jensenius (New interfaces for musical expression) I will continue this reserarch.This work has also included midi to control different parameters in the live electronics. It has been very stabile and to most extent flexible.

Photo:Fat Battery summershool at USF,Bergen July 14-17 on photo Knut Vaage and Victoria Johnson

In this processes it has been clearer what my research questions is, and what II will have to fullfill artisticly to come to a conclusion in 2010. I would formulate some of the question which has emerged during this year as follows: What kind of new soundscape will emerge when electric violin is combined with interactive sound -programs? What is a digital space compared to a natural space? What happens with the musical score when it transforms from a linear to a modular one? What happens with the musical time and space? How has my role as the performer changed in the process of working with the composers when improvisation is involved in the new repertoire for electric violin? What is the language of improvisation of this new soundscape?
How does it work when visual art (video) is used as a starting-point for improvisation?
Does music and video have a common language?
Where can this art-form be performed in a concert-hall/ as a concert-installation/ in an Art galley?
How do I work with spatialization of the sound and how can I control this in my own improvisations?
What kind of controllers is stage worthy for a violinist?



Just arrived from this years ICMC staying for just a couple of days.
The most important thing was the poster-demo of the brand new sensorbow made by Hans Wilmers at Notam and Knut Güettler at NMH and myself.
We presented two different bows with with accelerometers in three directions and gyroscopes. One of the bows have an  AAA battery and pressure sensor, and  the other one with a smaller and lighter rechargeable battery and a pressure-button.
My role in this was to control the maxpatches and demonstrate how the different parameters could be controlled by a violinist.
A big challenge is the connection with the bow and the computer through blue-tooth.
When using the extern bluetooth-dongle too many mobile-phones and other bows turned up, and our two bows were not recognized.
It helped to use the build-in bluetooth.
Another challenge is the bow looses contact to the computer, and all processes stops.
We are not totally sure about the reason for this, but a theory would be  some problems with the serial port.

The day before I had the pleasure to be in BEAMfondation,s Keith MacMillan,s demo of his brand new stringport and his K-bow. I saw a demo of the K-bow at this years NIME too, and I am convinced that he has come up with many good solutions on some of the challenges with the sensorbow.
The bow is very ligt because weight is taken out on a carbon fibre bow, and his pressure-sensor is easy to reach. It seems that he has solved the problems with the very sensitive bluetooth connection. I was trying his bow and it felt confortable despite of the electronics packed in in a small box at the frog.
During my stay in belfast I visited SARC and the fantastic hall covered with loudspeakers.
I saw both works electroacoustic video-works video, sound installations and some concerts.

I had a discussion about my project with Jan Schacher from Zurich University of the Arts.
I mentioned  my attempt to develop new repertoire for electric violin, and he said that ist seamed that the methods of interaction with the computer seamed more important to me.
I think he is right in some sense, I am more into how to fill up the buffers,the variety of sounds and how to navigate through different parameters in my electronics.

October 2020