CHAPTER 5.2.1 - 5.2.3

The initial idea for the music came when we tried out some electronic sound processing on the actors’ voices. We immediately found a few voice transformations that could work well in the performance, like transforming Ritzén’s voice in real-time into the voice of an old man, suggesting the ghost of Hamlet’s father.

EXAMPLE 5.2.1. Sound: Performance, from scene 1b

EXAMPLE 5.2.1. Video: Performance, from scene 1b


Step-by-step I started introducing electronic music and sound processing, which the actors felt supported them well in their performance. Gradually the music became more and more of a co-actor. The dramaturgical work with the action analysis, as described above, was crucial not only for the actors’ performance, but also for my work with the music. Instead of setting music to the written text, I set music to the actors’ actions and the situations on stage. With this approach in performance, the two actors and me were like a musical trio playing.

EXAMPLE 5.2.2. Video: Performance, from scene 2 + scene 7


What I mean is that you are the memory of me and you are the memory of me that memory of me don’t you recognize yourself in me in the memory? It’s you, you are the memory, you are that memory of me, the weeks before me, you are the one that I could have become you are the one I was before I became the one I could have been you are my face the one I had the one I once had that which was on my face somewhere on my face and that then became me and then am the one I am now. The memory of me, the memory of me before I existed, before I became me, don’t you remember yourself, don’t you remember who you were when you were me? Don’t you remember that you had an assignment that you had to carry out an action that had to be taken that I never initiated but that exists on my face that now is yours that hatred I harbor that is yours now and that action waiting to be taken waiting to be taken and completed that awaits your hand that is mine that now will be my hand in yours and your gaze that is mine that now will be yours that I want you to do this for me like a last sacrifice for daddy that a son can make for his daddy that I want I beg you to do it for me for everything I have done for you because I held you when you were little and now I beg you to do this in return because I comforted you when you wept and when you wept and the memory of your tears do you remember when you wept and I held you and I held you and spoke comforting words to you that I whispered in your ear that made you stop weeping now those words are back now I beg you for those words that you will speak them to me that you will do it for me for my sake so that I won’t have to wait and remember and finally can watch them die. Because they won’t die any other way. They won’t consume themselves to death. They won’t die of old age or of illness.

1 Maybe I won’t. Maybe not that much longer.

2 What are you gonna do?

1 Silence.

2 Hey? What are you gonna do?

1 Nothing.

2 No, exactly. You’re not gonna do anything. It’s just empty words. It’s just empty words it’s just and they don’t even mean anything.

1 And if they do?

2 But they don’t nobody will even notice that you disappear.

1 Not even you?

2 If I disappear?

1 Are you gonna notice?

2 I’m gonna notice.

1 That’s enough.

2 But nobody else. Everyone else won’t even notice. That you disappear. Or that I’ve disappeared or if anyone even cares only about themselves and theirs. Everyone does. Everyone’s the same.

1 Not me! Hey. Not me.

2 No.

1 And not you!

2 No, but that’s the exception. That’s the exception to the rule and all that. That everyone only cares about themselves and theirs. Deep inside. That everyone’s just trying to make me do exactly like but nobody’s gonna notice if either of us disappear.

1 You are not gonna disappear, are you?

2 Are you?

1 I don’t know. Sometimes I stand by the water.

2 Don’t do it!

1 But I do. I stand down by the water and just stand there. And just to stand there.

2 Don’t do it.

1 I’m not doing it. Not now. When I’m with you.

2 Now you’re with me.


1 I’ll always be. I’ve promised you that. I’ve promised you that and you’ve promised that to me.

2 No, don’t go.

1 I’m not gonna.

2 I don’t want you to.

1 I’m not gonna either.

2 You can’t leave me.

1 (Simultaneously)

I’m not gonna. I’m not gonna do you hear that my dear little boy. And I’m never gonna leave you. I won’t do that. I won’t. I’m not gonna. I’m not gonna I won’t, I will never ever do that.

2 (Simultaneously)

Not me either, not me either, not me either, my dear little boy, Because your words are tattooed soul and you are the rain, the release, I know that, I know that, I understand, I have understood. I have begun to understand.

This process slowly shifted my perspective on how I on a more general level could approach a text in a compositional process. I started to consider two overarching entry points:


1. The literary level. The text in its written form (thematic, intertextual, referential, poetic, emotive) and the dramatic situations implicit in the text.

2. The performative level. The situation in the performance space, the dramatic situations (mimesis, action) and how words and music interact and communicate in ‘the here and now’.


Through these entry points I derive ideas, themes, materials, form structures, actions, emotions or dramatic situations from the text as points of departures for my compositional work. In Hamlet II: Exit Ghost I picked up concrete ideas in the text itself: the brooding and fragmented text sections, the dialogues about death and ghosts, about water, rain and about longing and love.


EXAMPLE 5.2.3. Sound: Radio play version, from scene 9

1 I guess it’s a normal fucking piece of paper and I don’t give a fuck about it. I don’t give a fuck about it. The paper.

2 You’re gonna go under if you. You’re gonna be destroyed go under.

1 But I already am. Don’t you understand that? Don’t you understand? That?

2 I can help you. I’m not gonna destroy you, I’m gonna.

1 You already have.

2 Don’t say that.

1 But it’s true.

2 I can’t bear to live without you to live with this soot inside of me without you without your joy and to try to keep this shell that I, hir, him you that exists here inside of me, the soot shadow.

1 We’re all shadows. We’re all shadows and we’re all going under. We’re all and are going under darkness.

There’s the water. There. It’s calling me. It’s calling my name. Ophelia. Ophelia.

2 Hamlet.

1 Ophelia.

2 Hamlet.

1 All my names. The water is calling me, the abyss is calling me.

2 Hamlet.

1 Ophelia. Here’s your bed.

2 Hamlet.

1 Ophelia. Here in the abyss. Here in the abyss in the abyss of this and I am standing down by the abyss.

2 Hamlet.

1 The soot, the darkness, the abyss, the spirit. The ashes the soot. And breathe and stand with the gaze turned down. And breath in the soot the ashes and let the soot the darkness fill me and become alike the one I love.

2 Hamlet. I don´t give a fuck.

1 And all the love. Hamlet. Dad. Everyone. And the gaze turned down, and all the voices, those inside of me, everyone’s, and those that exist outside of me I shut out because I only want to hear the song of the sirens deep down at the bottom deep down at the bottom of this darkness,

A work commentary: Blank like a sheet of paper

Continuous change is also what distinguishes the two characters in Hamlet II: Exit Ghost. By isolating them from the dramatic development of Shakespeare, and even throwing their identity into confusion, Dahlqvist opens a wide field of associations. You can view the performance as a simple love conflict, as psychoanalytic therapy, as a reflection on acting, as a contemporary Kaspar Hauser, and even as the existential portrait of a potential killer. Each perspective changes the characters on stage again. They are multi-interpretable. "Blank as a sheet of paper", they say themselves.

(Wouter Hillaert in a work commentary for the performance at

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels 2012)