on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2011 2 Nov

The distant echoes of analogue synthesizers (Sigbjorn Apeland´s „Glossolalia“)

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off


The instruments used on this recording are Norwegian suction bellow operated harmoniums produced in Bergen by Henrik Eide and Einar Kaland.

The European/North American harmonium has usually been used in churches (and other venues devoted to Christian religious practice), schools and private homes. Occasionally it has also been used in classical and modern concert music. But after its golden age (roughly between 1880 and 1960), it has been considered a nostalgic or exotic element in contemporary musical life.

I grew up with this instrument, but changed to piano and church organ, until I re-discovered the harmonium as a useful instrument in collaborations with Norwegian folk musicians (mostly Hardanger fiddlers and singers). Gradually I discovered the instrument’s possibilities in a variety of improvised and „experimental“ musical settings.

The music on this album is a mixture of elements that have developed through my interplay with folk musicians improvisers/computer musicians and my attempts to make my own kind of acoustic ambient music.

The harmonium produces many sounds in addition to the intended ones that come from the reeds. There is a lot of noise that comes from the keys, the bellows, the pedals, the knee-operated swells, and other mechanical devices. On this recording we have not tried to reduce or hide these sounds. Instead they are considered as an integral part of the instrument. Or, in other words: friends rather than enemies. The instrument has its technical limitations and is averse to all kind of virtuosity. Furthermore, most harmoniums are old, badly maintained, more or less out of tune, or – sometimes – more or less defect. For most trained musicians this is a problem, but I have instead tried to face these weaknesses and discover their potential for creating a kind of music that has not been heard before.

Sigbjørn Apeland

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