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Sound Moves

Listening to the everyday is like deciphering an unknown code. Slowly I put the puzzle together out of all the impressions I receive and some kind of meaning is revealed. Sounds, movements, smells transport me through time and space. I construct my own reality. Movement is the key and sound comes with it. Contemporary art music forms part of the puzzle and of my understanding of what is going on.

In my work to create a kind of meaning new contexts are formed. I listen to movement. The movements of the body possess their own tonality: long, short, hard, soft… I see music as an extension of movement. If choreography is the composing of movements, providing the tumbling fragments with a form, then music is its counterpart in terms of sound. Form is the foundation for everything that creates meaning.

I have always looked for the music when a new work is going to take shape. I have come across many different composers as part of marvellous collaborative efforts, but the one who occupies a special position in relation to my work is the Swedish composer Tommy Zwedberg. Tommy and I have been working together on or off for twenty years.

Tommy’s music reveals to me a keen ear, sensitive to sound of every kind. He draws out of the moment its own particular sound and makes use of it in a form of musical creation that is profoundly personal and with an entirely distinctive character. He makes me hear what I have never heard before. To listen to what is going on with expectation. His music reflects something profoundly existential that has to do with the very process of being alive. That sensitivity is unique.

Together we have been able to explore the process of composition on the basis of movement and different sound sources, and our different ways of listening to what is going on. Tommy has worked with electro-acoustic music in the main, although in our collaborative efforts we have worked both with orchestras, ensembles and soloists of various kinds. Nevertheless we frequently return to the fantastic opportunities provided by electro-acoustic music to explore sound-worlds and to invent new spaces. The reality we create only becomes a whole when all our senses are made use of, when the image becomes complete.

The organic sound in a body or in an object is listened to and is changed into a new form in which silence too has its allotted place. I may have heard the sound a thousand times without my mind picking up on it. And then it becomes accentuated and made conscious. It is placed in a new context. Music. The music makes demands both on my thoughts and feelings. And so we come together in working with dance. The dance and music conduct their dialogue and the context becomes clear. The work takes shape in the space that exists between what was and what will be. It is there, in the space in between, that everything is played out and new insights created.

Seeing the everyday as the very essence of life is a challenge. To see the moments follow one another in a succession of possibilities. What is actually real? There is space in the everyday for all the peculiarities, and much of the mystery, life has to offer. Secret rooms open up with new insights, and an unexpected meeting can suddenly provide exactly what was needed to make progress with an idea or something that has not yet been articulated. We take what we have experienced - together with our expectations - into that space where anything can happen. In the work of art there is space for dreams and desires, for recognition and questioning, for the construction of identity and affirmation of the self. This is the way I want it be with music as well.

As artists, we are often solitary. We are used to working alone, to being vulnerable and exposed. Experience has taught me that what I need in my desire for more extensive, more profound, working processes is the presence of others, their insights and thoughts about what is going on. Working collaboratively with composers, for example, generates much that is positive as well as a great deal of confusion and resistance. All the things that force me to strive for greater clarity in terms of what I want to achieve.

I am a critical listener. I think that much of the contemporary art music I hear is crap. Saturated for too long with too much. So often just a demonstration of what is technically possible with one flourish coming after another like one big exclamation of “Look what I can do!” How dreary. But then I get to hear something that is just so stimulating and challenging or enjoyable that all the crap is wiped from my memory.

There is often space in what is simple for the clarity of an urgent address. Meaning is created when form can be made use of in an assured way. Music can challenge me intellectually, seduce my body and transport me to that unique space in between. I leave behind all that has been just to be with and in the music, until it is time to move on. I have made many journeys of this kind with the music of Tommy Zwedberg.

The collaboration between choreographer and composer has to be grounded in a shared understanding of the goal and meaning of the work. I consider original music for dance as an essential part of the coming into being of the work and also as part of what defines the space in which it evolves. In my ongoing artistic research project: Movement as the Memory of the Body, the collaboration between Tommy Zwedberg and myself has been put to the test. I intend to present the work we have done in the form of a short theoretical introduction followed by the performance of a solo for a male dancer (68 years of age). That’s it.

Efva Lilja

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