Electronic Contrasts

This listening session with Oscar Debs tackles the different facets of the renowned composer Arne Nordheim's musical language. For instance, ‘Solitaire’ is one of his most known electronic pieces, ‘Lux et Tenebrae’ is a concert version from Nordheim's ambitious contribution to the Scandinavian pavilion at EXPO'70 in Osaka. (Images link to sound files)

Documentation drawings: Samrridhi Kukreja aka Tuda Muda


Prelude: Pairs of Chairs



Intro: Solitaire (1969)

"Solitaire" was commissioned for the opening of Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, an arts centre located at Høvikodden, just outside of Oslo. The work is strongly tied to the history of the centre. It premiered during the opening festivities on August 22nd 1968, and over the following seven months it ran several times a day in a concert hall called Studio. The work has been performed at Henie Onstad in its original four-channel version on three occasions: the original run in 1968-69, in a new series of performances in 1981 (with visuals by a young Magne Furuholmen, who later climbed to international fame with the pop group A-ha), and finally for the retrospective Nordheim exhibition in 2013-14. This alone would make Solitaire the most-performed electroacoustic work in Norway. But the work has also transcended its Høvikodden origin, and a two-channel mixdown of the work ranks as Nordheim’s most frequently released and most widely disseminated electroacoustic work. (Ola Nordal, "Between Poetry and Catastrophe"— A Study on the Electroacoustic Music of Arne Nordheim, 2018)





Lux et Tenebrae / Poly-Poly (1970)


Poly-Poly, was conceived for the Scandinavian pavilion at the world exhibition in Osaka Japan Expo ’70. The exhibition was an important event in the history of electroacoustic music. Among the high points were Stockhausen’s famous 50-speaker spherical concert hall in the West-German pavilion and the premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ 12-channel Hibiki Hana Ma in the pavilion of the Japanese Steel and Iron Federation. Xenakis’ work was perhaps the most stunning. It was played back from 800 speakers in tight synchronisation with a spectacular laser and light show. Compared to these giant set-ups, Nordheim’s work, which had “only” six tape loops played through 36 speakers, was modest. Overall, the project was not entirely successful. In an internal report to the Government, The Norwegian Osaka Committee summed up the Scandinavian collaboration for the exhibition as a failure. It had been costly, the collaborative effort had not been satisfactory, and the PR impact had been low. The Scandinavian contribution was just dwarfed beside the more spectacular pavilions of the other countries. ((Ola Nordal, "Between Poetry and Catastrophe"— A Study on the Electroacoustic Music of Arne Nordheim, 2018, 167.)

Regarding Six Channels for the Osaka EXPO70



Interlude: Discussion



Cantata for Sound, Light and Movement