croneholm, day 3

In todays session we focused on playing. The first and the second day was very intense with sincere discussions concering aesttetic attitudes in music and improvisation. A few themes appears to have become central to us as a group:

  • Awareness in and through the music
  • Dismantling personal and stylistic expectations
  • Political awareness in and through the music

These themes played an important role today and it seems as if we are already able to incorporate them in our approach towards the music we played. In particular, it was interesting to see how, when we picked up a tune by Maggi, one that we as a trio, without Josefine, worked with and played last year, we handled the situation. Maggi was not keen on playing the song. It is a tune very particular to her style and precisely because of that she felt locked in by the structure she herself had created. Josefine, Peter and I, however, insisted that we should try it, that we should attempt to break down the structure so problematic to Maggi, without loosing the strong aesthetic identity of the song. In the end it wasn’t even very difficult, not to me anyways, and we were able to create a much more convincing version than what we did last year.

croneholm, day 1

The first session with Josefine Cronholm was incredibly productive and inspiring. Her skill and strong expression made a great impression on Maggi, Peter and I and the discussions were honest and meaningful right from the start.

Without going into detail right now it is worth thinking about what makes a meeting such as ours meaningful. Of course, we all know each other since long so, even though we haven’t played together before in this constellation we share some common ground. Equally obvious is that we are covering similar aesthetic grounds, we appreciate similar kinds of music and similar modes of expression. (The same, however, could have been said about our sessions with Katt but that music was very different from the one we were playing today.) Finally we work well socially, we enjouyed talking and playing together.

Still, there is something else in addition to this. There are other factors that have a play in the immediate success of our encounter. As a summary of our discussions today I think they reflected this ‘other’, non-tangible quality. My personal impression is that it has to do with a sensibility towards the other, but probably even more, a sensibility towards the music and the musical other.

We really only played one tune, a new piece by me (A Cradle Song), a free improvisation on the same piece and another free improvisation.

malmö, may 21, 19.30

Our project with Josefine Cronholm will end with an informal concert at Inter Arts Center on Thursday May 21 at 19.30. The concert will feature some music composed for this occasion as well as lots of improvisation.

IAC is located on Bergsgatan 29 in the centre of Malmö. The concert is held on the 4th floor and it can sometimes be tricky to get in but check back on this page for instructions closer to the event. The concert is free of charge.

More information on the IAC webpage.

rule based improvisation

One of the things we had already tried as a trio is to set up rules for the improvisation. At one of our sessions in November we had set up quite simple rules, usually in combinations of three, such as:

  • Dark
  • In tempo
  • Long tones

This method is something we wanted to try with Katt too. Immediately, however, in the first day of rehearsals on January 20 we expanded the concept. (Why did we do that? What was the particular reason that we evolved these quite simple rules into more complex and interdependent setups?) The rules we worked with that turned out to be quite effective was (see also this post for a recording):

  • No one may play louder than the violin
  • The drums should always play when the piano is not playing
  • The saxophone should attempt to play the opposite of what the piano plays

Oddly, this was the first attempt to create a context for us to play in and we used it throughout the whole week. Also, due to the first rule, No one may play louder than the violin, it set a certain, quite low dynamic for us that pertained during the whole week.

A set of rules like this obviously becomes a kind of composition not unlike a piece by John Cage or some other composer from the 50s until now. What we found striking though when we listened back to our attempts to perform this “composition” is that the rules are unimportant to the understanding of the music. In other words, what is commonly held in high esteem in composed music – that the composed structure is an important complement to the understanding of the music – has no meening here. Even in jazz it has some significance that I know that I’m listening to a rhyth change rather than som freely improvised structure.

uppsala concert recording

The complete recording of the concert we played in Uppsala on January 24, 2015. Together with violinist Katt Hernandez we played a program of five pieces that we had rehearsed during the sessions in Malmö in the days prior to the show.


  • The first piece was based on the instructions to continuously repeat a sound and for each repetition attempt to perfect it.
  • The second was a free improvisation
  • The third a rule based piece following these rules:
    • No one may play louder than the violin
    • The drums should always play when the piano is not playing
    • The saxophone should attempt to play the opposite of what the piano plays
  • The fourth was equal to the second
  • The final piece was like the first but this time using a sustained sound.