The Modern Ancient Voice

Anneli Drecker, Research Fellow at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Faculty of Fine Arts, Dept of Music, Dance and Drama

The goal of this artistic research project is to explore and research what I call “The Modern Ancient Voice” in order to be able to develop my voice and ways of singing. The term “ancient voice” refers to the voice as the first ever instrument within ancient societies where song was a vital part of the human´s expression, cult and religion as described by John Koopman in A brief history of singing.

Throughout the project I will seek to push my artistic barriers trying to merge singing techniques and vocal expressions that derive from ancient time with today´s contemporary music to add something unique and new to the popular music scene.

Through observations during master classes with chosen mentors, musical co-operations and studies of several ancient singing techniques, I wish to obtain new singing techniques and aesthetic expressions as well as reveal the ancient voice receding in my body.
During the project I will :

1. Investigate and study song techniques with some artists who practice ancient and traditional singing styles. The artists I have chosen as mentors is Radik Tyulyush from Tuva , USSR, for throat singing, Ingor Antte Ailiu Gaup from Kautokeino , NO, for yoik, Mahsa Vahdat from Iran, for Persian traditional singing, and Kirsten Bråten Berg from Setesdal, NO, for Norwegian folk song

2. After each master class I will experiment with my own interpretation of an ancient singing technique and through my own singing and the bodily expression it implies, create new compositions using the aesthetics of the contemporary popular music.

My background as a singer/composer lies within the early electronic pop music since the 80´s and from that scene came the expression “Arctic pop“. This label is something I want to build on during my creative production. It is, and has always been important for me to reflect the Arctic landscape surrounding us in my music.

3. Develop my theoretical knowledge on the voice and different vocal singing techniques by studying Complete Vocal Technique (CVT) at the Complete Vocal Institute in Copenhagen. This is to obtain a common theoretical platform around the physiology of the singing voice.

In April 2015, I released the album Rocks&Straws on Rune Grammofon as a part of the project. Rocks&Straws was recorded in my hometown Tromsø and the lyrics are based upon poems by the Norwegian poet Arvid Hanssen and is pretty much about the daily grinding life above the arctic circle a generation or two ago; “Man in nature” and “Man and nature” so to say. The album also included the first song ever to combine ancient kapa haka singing with a more contemporary music style, and received a lot of attention for this. Especially the video for the kapa haka song Ocean´s Organ was well noticed all over the globe even making the way into the News. Rocks& Straws received great critics and was three times nominated for the Norwegian Grammy for Best Producer, Best Composer and Best Pop Artist 2015.

Since spring 2015 I have with my band played around 20-30 concerts and visited some of the biggest music festivals in Norway plus one showcase in Berlin and one showcase in London.

I have also worked with the great English musician, guitarist and composer Justin Adams on a project called Ribbons which was partly recorded in Tromsø winter 2015, and partly in Real World Studios, Bath, UK 2015. This collaboration is meant to be released during 2016.

Currently, I am working on a new solo album with the same band set up as on Rocks&Straws. I am also writing on a commissioned piece for a concert/performance I will do together with the famous dance ensemble Carte Blanche, for Festspillene I Bergen in June 2016.

At the end of my research period, I will have a final concert were I invite different collaborators with me on stage. This along with the recordings done during this project, will be my artistic result.

The artistic reflection will partly be a documentary film that will be screened at Tromsø International Film Festival in January 2017, a web site or blog based on my artistic research, video and audio recordings from concerts and rehearsals, and cd releases.