Music Without Borders – Traditional music from Setesdal meets world musicians

 university of agder, faculty of fine arts

The starting point for the project is a set of recordings by Norwegian folk-musicians of Norwegian folk-songs in the “stev og slåtte” (stave and tune) tradition of Setesdal in Agder. These studio-produced video and audio recordings will be passed on to performers from other parts of the world for them to respond to. Their musical responses will form the basis for a digitally interactive process using the latest music technology: portable studio / laptop, Dropbox and Skype. Participants will also meet in person to continue their work in joint seminars and workshops at the various partner institutions.

The project is based on the following two-part problem as presented:

  1. How do performers from other cultures respond to traditional Norwegian music from Setesdal, and how do Norwegian artists / performers respond to these responses?
  2. In further developing the musical material, what are the implications of the different instruments of world music? What tonal and rhythmical challenges and opportunities do they offer when developing a new sound?

The final results of the project will be made publicly available on CD and DVD, and in the form of video installations that presents a selection of the musical responses submitted during the working process. The video installations will also form an opportunity for live responses from various musicians. The artist Jeremy Welsh will take charge of developing these video installations. Other presentational formats will include public concerts, seminars and studio sessions.

One major resource for this project is the international network built up by Annbjørg Lien and Professor Bjørn Ole Rasch, which was documented recently in Khoom Loy (2012), an album nominated for a Norwegian Grammy Spellemann prize in 2012.

For several years the Faculty of Fine Arts has been collaborating with the Peace Corps on an exchange programme for students and teachers, which has been the basis for a network of musicians from countries including Nepal, Palestine, Cambodia and Thailand. Several of these contributed to Khoom Loy, and have also met and toured with other celebrated Norwegian folk musicians.

Research fellow and assistant professor Ingolv Haaland also has several years’ experience of working with musical projects in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

The Faculty of Fine Arts will set up a special research fellowship in conjunction with the project, with specialisation in rhythmic music performance. This PhD position will help to strengthen the project’s artistic performance dimension while also enhancing academic reflection on the project’s themes.

The main contributing partners in the project are the University of Gothenburg (UiG) and Telemark University College (HiT).

As a result of its long-standing BA programme in world music, the Academy of Music and Drama (UiG) has well-established networks in the Middle East, thanks in part to its collaboration on a ten-year project in Palestine run by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). In addition to the forthcoming MA programme in world music at the Institute of Popular Music, University of Agder (UiA), we see many further areas of potential academic cooperation. The MA programme is a collaboration with the Institute of Folk Culture (HiT).

Over the past three years, the UiA has also had collaborations in China in conjunction with Concerts Norway (Rikskonsertene), with whom we are currently working on arrangements for closer professional contacts.