Time is a variable only seldomly discussed within the context of contemporary composition. Can you tell me a bit about your perspective on time in relation to a composition and what role it plays in your work?
The composition itself tells me the duration, when it is ready (I made that decision obviously). I like to think of my music e.g. as a circle, a bell curve or a square and these structures define the time I think. To me it is important not to take the written rhythm too literal. I consider my breathing my metronome ... that's why I play the composition as I would tell a story - with here and there a little pause because I have to think a little or with acceleration because I am enthusiastic - the music will become fluent and natural. It is important to feel how you go from one note to the other, and again take your time to breath - that is what music is all about.
What do improvisation and composition mean to you and what, to you, are their respective merits?
As Nietsche said: Life would be a mistake without music. The merits are to me existential. My harp is my heart and a true lifesaver. I am introvert person and I live my life like a hermit so the harp is my soulmate even though we have a love/hate relation at times (laughs) And I have a strong desire to escape reality while improvising to find beauty and consolation. In other words: creating something new is the ultimate freedom to express myself. In surrender to the enchanted dance with the strings (it feels like being in trance) I can feel my harp/body and soul resonating ... my breathing is my metronome and guide. Sometimes I live a (day)dream during improv. and composition ... I go with the flow and I have such a strong connection with my instrument ... life is good!
Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
No. And No. I just want to make visual, imaginative music that comes from my harp and soul that touches the listener.
With more and more musicians creating than ever and more and more of these creations being released, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
To me it is important not to compromise artistically. I follow my heart and intuition in music and I try to believe as much as I can in my own skills and own (creative) truth. I need to walk my path to be successful. I am always searching for alternative formats to share my work. I am a strong believer in art-fusion, to secure and share my music with an audience. A strong potential I feel is to record original music for film, multimedia and art projects. Music licensing and publishing agencies for indie artists are flourishing at the moment.
How would you define the term “interpretation”? How important is it for you to closely work together with the artists performing your work?
Not important at all! I like artists who know their instrument and feel free to improvise/arrange my music to make it their own. (laughs) I really applaud experiments and creativity with my music. To me it is important not to take the written rhythm too literal. As a marketing tool I initiated the A BIRD creativity contest to promote my music book A Bird Came Flying. Harpists and other artists were invited to choose and play and/or arrange a piece from my music book (and share it via Soundcloud or Youtube). On the harpandsoul.com website I have a page called 'YOU PLAY I listen!' where I share the creations of other artists performing my work. I learn a lot listening to their interpretation. Even though we have not worked closely together I am available through Facebook messenger or Skype for questions about my work. I have the intention to help musicians/harpists to express themselves through an minimal note score with some emotive written guidelines in the sheet music, so that they do not worry about the notes and start making music, expressing feelings.
The effect of a piece doesn't merely depend on the performance of the musicians, but also on the place it is performed at. How do you see the relationship between location and sound? In how far do you feel the current system of concert halls is still the right one for your music – or for contemporary music in general?
My studio for audio recording is to me the main location where my music sounds and where the creativity happens. And of course my sound system to listen to my recordings. In the mastering process my harp receives some “room”, although not too much echo or grand cathedral like filters because I like to have my harp sounds crisp and clear as if you were in my living room. The formats to share music are audio files that can be listened to as a CD, vinyl or via multimedia in the cinema, television, music-video and/or art-installation.
What's your view on the role and function of music as well as the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of composers today - and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Every composer should decide this for him/herself. I primarily make music to stay happy. I express myself through my harp and I think the listener may identify or recognize the feelings I am sharing. Authentic and heartfelt music, poetry, visual art, nature and daily seemingly innocent impressions are my main inspiration to compose music. Everything that impresses me will be translated into music. My upcoming album Beautiful World is therefore more social / political minded – it is about seeking happiness, letting go, feeling lost sometimes and how to escape this so called beautiful world at times.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
Since I do not have the black keys of the piano to change key, I have 7 (c-d-e-f-g-a-b) pedals to make this happen; I can make the string shorter – half a note higher - by pressing the pedal down with my feet and up to make it sound half a note lower. The in between position makes the plucked string sound natural. Another challenge is when pressing a pedal up or down is that e.g. all c- strings will alter sound.
Having said this, my dream is to record a free improv harp solo album. I did not record one yet because I feel that I am still searching for the right musical idiom for my instrument. A sound that is chromatically interesting and organic and fluent at the same time. When I have found this new sound I would like to share it with an audience through an installation that could travel around the globe to several galleries and of course all other forms of art-fusion. Yes I am quite ambitious indeed (laughs). And yet: my harp and soul productions all started with a dream and visualisation before they became reality.