Trio de Danse

Percussionists have always reminded me of dancers, with their very precise and complex movements necessary to perform their music, often on a large number of instruments far apart. It often looks like a very concentrated form of dance, both the movements connected to the playing but also the movements used for signalling of tempos, and the signs given for coordination.

In Trio de Danse, I have been inspired by this practise, if not the concrete movements, to compose a piece and try out possible relationships between rhythm as sound and rhythm as movement. The foundation of this is that we can equally experience a rhythm by seeing it, and by listening to it. The concept of rhythm is, within some limitations, a trans-medial experience, it exist in several medias. A pulse or a rhythm can be heard and it can be seen. In an ordinary concert contexts we often see and hear rhythms simultaneous, since we watch and listen to musicians play. In this piece there is an independent development of the rhythmical structures you hear, and the ones you see. They sometimes mime each other, respond to each other, what you hear one musician play, you see another musician “dance”. Other times the movements and the sound is opposing each other, creating polyphony between the visual and the sounding music.

The piece was composed in a close relationship with the Norwegian percussion trio Pinquins. The score is a notation of both the movements and the sounds as equal part of the composed piece. The movements developed for the piece, are in some parts decided in detailed by the score, in other parts has the details of the movements been developed by the musicians in cooperation with dancer and singer Silje Aker Johnsen. All rhythmical structures are fixed in the score, also in these parts, and also what part of the body to move (head, torso, arms or feet), but the shapes and forms of the movements was created by the musicians in the workshops. This was done to find movements that would as much as possible originate from the individual musicians bodies.

In a way Trio de Dance is posing questions about perception. How do we perceive rhythmical structures when we see them, as opposed to when we hear them? Do we perceive them as separate things, derived from, and perceived by different senses, or are we able to “hear” the movements together with the sounds, and that they together form a trans-medial music, which is partly seen and partly heard? This aspect of the piece has been largely inspired by composer and artistic research fellow Christian Blom and his work Organized time, strategies for trans-medial composition.

The piece is in three parts, one standing behind the instruments, one moving on the floor and one laying down. The instrumentation for the percussion trio is reduced to a minimum. Each player have two small drums, three wood objects, two metal objects and a gong. This has been done in favour of giving way to the visual aspect of the piece, and making it simple for the musicians to be both “dancing” and playing performers.