My interest to use somewhat unusual, or custom built, instruments in compositions can be found in many of my pieces. The way it opens for new and imaginative ideas through original sounds and special playing techniques for a work can be most inspiring and useful. As mentioned above, the connection to concrete things and events were fundamental for the compositional process of Indy500: seklernas udde. In the piece there are a huge number of sampled sounds that I recorded in a garage with cars and machines. But there are also many sounds synthetically produced that are sonically connected to these concrete sounds. However, through the use of different sound processing techniques it can be hard to distinguish which of the sounds are originally real sounds, and which are synthetic, which gives a wide but coherent sonic spectrum from the sounds of cars and machines to abstract electronic sounds.
EXAMPLE 5.1.12. Sound: Examples of pre-recorded sounds and samples
Also for the instrumental writing the concrete connections to cars and motors were fundamental, not least concerning ideas for extended playing techniques and electronic effects. For the saxophone, using alto and bass, I designed a number of specific sound effects. The saxophone player also played on sound samples using a MIDI-pad. The percussion set up was made out of car parts, metal junk and oil barrels. While constructing the set up I tested the instruments so that I knew the kind of sounds I could get through different ways of playing on them. The percussion set up also included a MIDI drum pad that triggered many of the sampled and electronic sounds and also longer sound files.
EXAMPLE 5.1.13. Video: Constructing and testing the percussion instruments
For the guitar part five different guitar instruments were used (banjo, electric MIDI-guitar, electric bass, twin necked electric guitar (6-and 12-stringed) and a digital guitar). Though I know these guitar instruments very well it was important to play with them when working out extended playing techniques and programming the specific guitar effects and the samples for the MIDI-guitar. Through the use of MIDI-instruments a very tight synchronization could be achieved between all the electronic music material and the ensemble. All in all, the design of instruments in Indy500: seklernas udde, both the acoustic and the digital, were a crucial part of the compositional process.
EXAMPLE 5.1.14. Sound: Part A (Score 0:40 – 2:00)
The building and shaping of new instruments, however, comes with a problematic aspect when it comes to the creative process: should I write music first to find out what kind of features a new instrument would have and then construct the instrument based on what I have written, or should I construct an instrument first and then start writing the music? In the latter case, how do I know that an instrument is ‘ready’ to compose for? In the former, how can I be sure that I will be able to construct the kind of instrument I have in mind? The answer to these questions is to have a process that oscillates between the two approaches. By starting with some kind of prototype for an instrument I can try out possible playing techniques and sonic possibilities. With this I can make musical sketches that in turn will give ideas for how to modify the instrument. Going back and forth between these procedures, as I did with the instruments in Indy500: seklernas udde was an effective method.