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Making a song from samples of an iron monument

October 8, 2012

photo: gd.no

What:

I made a song based on samples from an iron monument.

Why:

I was hired to do it.

How:

I sampled the monument and processed the samples in Ableton Live.

——–

Finished piece:

Download:

Ableton Live Project

Preface:

The museum “Maihaugen” in Lillehammer, Norway, hired me to do an electronic composition for the anniversary of their founder: “Anders Sandvig”. The composition were to be based on sounds I could make from their new monument of Sandvig.

A presentation of Maihaugen as found on maihaugen.no/en/:

Maihaugen is an open air museum with 200 old and new buildings, exhibitions, cafes and lots of activities. It was founded by the dentist Anders Sandvig in 1887. Maihaugen is a part of Lillehammer museum, together with Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s Aulestad, Sigrid Undset’s Bjerkebæk, the Norwegian Olympic Museum and the Norwegian Post Museum.

The monument consists of many tall vertical iron columns shaped slightly differently so that they together project the face of “Anders Sandvig”, see picture at top.

Procedure:

I went to Lillehammer one week before the show to sample the monument with a zoom h4n. Afterwards I took the two and a half hour long trip back home to Oslo, where my recorder was stolen and I had to go back to Lillehammer the next day with a borrowed recorder to do everything again.

I am a backup maniac, I use both dropbox, icloud and jotta, but apparently the handheld recorder I used is not synced to neither of these services. I learned:

Always make sure important files are backed up.

Raw samples:

I imported the sound files into ableton live and extracted the clearest and most distinct parts into new audio files.

Structure:

The piece was going to be presented with several dancers and two musicians playing on top of it, me playing live on the monument and Andreas Ljones playing the Jew’s Harp.

I was asked to satisfy many needs:

  • It had to be in tune with the Jew’s Harp.
  • It had to be in 5/4.
  • It had to have a touch of traditional Norwegian folk music.
  • It had to be danceable.
  • It had to last for 10 minutes.
  • It had to be simple and minimalistic.
  • It had to be obvious that the sound was made from the statue.

I chose to use a side-chain compressor on every beat to make it easier for the dancers to follow, and I made the 5/4 timing quite diffuse so it wouldn’t confuse them. The emphasis on the first and fifth beat is my attempt to make it more like Norwegian folk music, I try to draw a parallel to “Rørospols” where they emphasize the first and third beat in 3/4 timing.

As you might have discovered by now, the piece is looped once, with the structure ABAB, where the second AB is an exact copy of the first AB. That might be a quite cheap and lazy trick, but I think it worked well …

Watch:

News Reportage:

Video from the audience:

Summary:

It was interesting to have such a short deadline and having to satisfy all the mentioned criteria. It would obviously have been better if I had more time, but it is good to know that I can make something that is good enough within a small time frame.

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From → ALL, Maihaugen

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