By Sif Hellerup Madsen
Air, spit and deconstructed folk high school songs are some of the ingredients in composer and musician Anders Lauge Meldgaard’s contribution to Struer Tracks this year. It will be a new choral work for a mobile loudspeaker-orchestra performing in the public space.
”The lyrics of the choral work thematizes the air that we breathe in and out and share. The air can carry many things, viruses for example, or pictures if you recite a poem”
Meldgaard explains that his work for Struer Tracks is shaped by a time where our perception of the air around us has changed.
However, let’s start at the beginning. The first part of Meldgaard’s work process was to invite the Danish author Amalie Smith to write lyrics to the work. She accepted the invite after an extended dialogue with Meldgaard about different themes, that both artists were occupied with - for example the contradiction of writing a choral work in a time where corona restrictions have made it difficult to sing together:
“The lyrics is centered around aerosols. The tiny water particles from our spit that hang in the air and potentially carry the corona virus, making it impossible during the lockdown for choirs to sing the way they used to,” Meldgaard says.
Deconstructed folk high school songs
Amalie Smith is an author, who often experiments with fragmented text. But while working with the lyrics for Meldgaard’s work she went to the opposite extreme:
”Amalie became preoccupied with the use of stanza and rhyme, almost making the lyrics resemble a folk high school song. So, the first thing I did was to compose something like that”, says Meldgaard.
Amalie Smith’s way of writing surprised him: ”But it has been fun composing a song that follows that structure And at the same time I have been curious about how I could deconstruct and experiment with it afterwards.”
An excerpt of the work in Danish:
Hvordan bærer luften maskerne,
bannerne, hornene, taskerne,
løftes de op gennem masterne,
spredes som ringe i vand –
Presses de ind gennem kablerne,
ført frem under oceanerne,
blinkende ubrudt i banerne,
en lysbro fra kyst til kyst?
Hvordan bærer luften råberne,
kroppene svøbt i flagkåberne,
så tæt på hinanden at dråberne,
kan springe fra mund til mund –
Trædes de ud under sålerne,
løftes de opad med strålerne,
falder som regn ned i målerne,
mast ud af den åbne luft?
An open process
It’s the local choirKlangfrom Holstebro, that is going to sing Meldgaard’s work and at the same time they will be included in his artistic process:
“They want to take part in it and try things out. We’re going to do exercises and record a lot of elements, which will be put together for the final work,” says Meldgaard.
At the same time, he wants to try out extended techniques with the choir, so that their bodies and voices will be used in new ways.
“I go to the studio with an unfinished score. I see it as a collection of materials I can work on afterwards,” Meldgaard says.
A choir of loudspeakers
Air is the theme of Smith’s lyrics, and that is why Meldgaard wants to use air in his composition defining it as something changeable and moveable:
“I wanted to move away from the whole thought of a choir being placed on the local square to sing. I wanted to have a moveable element in the work, a kind of choreography.”
The work for Struer Tracks will be played by four individual loudspeakers that will be carried around in the public space: “The four loudspeakers will form a small choir. The soprano voices might be played by one speaker, the bass voices by another and so forth and thereby the voices merge the moment they are being played,” Meldgaard says.
The local choir Klang from Holstebro that is going to sing Meldgaard’s work
Rihanna versus choir song
Meldgaard’s choreographical work will dictate how the loudspeaker-orchestra will move around in the streets of Struer and the area around Struer Town Hall.
But what is the effect of presenting a work in public space, where people have their busy everyday lives?
I think we’re going to use soundboxes for the work. You know, these mobile loudspeakers that people drag with them to the beach to listen to extremely loud Rihanna.”
However, in Meldgaard’s piece the soundboxes will be used completely differently: ”It might puzzle some that the speakers are playing choir songs and hopefully that can make people curious so they feel like having a listen,” the composer says.
Mellem komposition og improvisation
”The tension field between composition and improvisation is exciting to use as a driving force and to a certain extent I also use it in my work for Struer Tracks,” Meldgaard says.
The combination of the scheduled and the spontaneous is generally a common thread in his artistic work.
At the moment he is writing music for a boys choir, that will become an app that can play the work and make it sound differently every time. On top of that he is collaborating with the artist-run record label “År og Dag” on developing wooden wheels that can control synthesizers and make new music.
“As a composer I don’t arrive with a black suit and the finished work in a briefcase under my arm. I want to create a playful atmosphere in the studio and then have the freedom to go home afterwards and cut it up and turn everything upside down. There is an element of improvisation or an open approach to it. In that way it is in line with other things I have made,” Meldgaard concludes.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Anders Lauge Meldgaard works in a wide field of musical expressions, ranging from contemporary music to free improvisation to sound installations, songwriting, orchestral midi collages, chamber music, mixtapes, noisy works for electric guitar sextet and lately also electronic music. The tension field between composition and improvisation is often used as a motivating force to propel his musical adventures. He has previously performed and released critically acclaimed albums under the alias Frisk Frugt.
Struer Tracks is an international biennial of sound art that takes place in the urban space of the Danish town, Struer. The biennial will take place for the third time from August 20 to September 5th 2021 - The theme is "Landscapes of Sound" and is curated by Charlotte Bagger Brandt