Ongoing Work

M / illuminationes - for soprano, recorder, baroque violin, viola da gamba, theorbo

Next Performances

Click the links for more information

2009-02-01, Göteborg:
Chiral III

2009-02-01, Göteborg:
Chiral IV

2009-02-13, Stockholm:
M / illuminationes

2009-02-24, Malmö:
The Emerald Windstrings

What's Up

Three CD albums are recently released:
CORDES, works by Kent Olofsson (PSSACD 170)
Dame Wiggens: divine images (10PCD001)
OPUS EST: Opus II (from Musea Records)

14 Stations (1993/94) - Kent Olofsson
recital, organ
14 Stations - detailed information
Work note by the composer

I många romersk-katolska kyrkor kan man se en serie bilder föreställande Jesu väg till korset, Via Dolorosa. Dessa "stationer" på vägen till Golgata är ofta sju till antalet men på 1600-1700-talen brukades hos franciskanerna fjorton stationer:

  1. Jesus döms till döden,
  2. bär sitt kors,
  3. dignar under korset första gången,
  4. möter sin moder,
  5. Simon hjälper till att bära korset,
  6. mötet med Veronica,
  7. dignar under korset andra gången,
  8. tröstar kvinnorna
  9. dignar under korset tredje gången,
  10. man tar ifrån Jesus kläderna och ger honom galla att dricka,
  11. Jesus spikas på korset,
  12. dör på korset,
  13. Pietá (Maria har Jesu döda kropp över knäet),
  14. Jesus lägges i graven.

Orgelverket har sex satser, de tolv första delarna har delats in i grupper om tre och bildar alltså fyra satser. De två sista delarna, Pietá och Gravläggningen utgör var för sig en sats.

Stycket är komponerat med mycket strama strukturer, både när det gäller form och material. Talen 3 och 4 har stor betydelse. 3 är Gudomens tal medan 4 är världens tal genom de fyra elementen och de fyra väderstrecken. 4 står också för de fyra korsarmarna. På samma sätt som talet 3 symboliserar treenigheten, kan också talet 4 symbolisera Kristus: som människa, lejon, örn och oxe. Även talen 7 (Jesu ord på korset) och 9 (Jesu dödstimma) finns med.

Styckets grundmaterial är mycket enkelt då det endast består av molltreklangen i grundläge. Det harmoniska och melodiska materialet är skapat genom fyra mollackord som staplats på varandra. Vidare finns det fyra rytmiska/gestiska byggstenar som kombineras i olika skikt i musiken.

Verkets delar och satser är:

1. The Condemnation
2. The Cross
3. The First Fall
4. The Mother
5. Simon
6. Veronica
7. The Second Fall
8. The Women´s Consolation
9. The Third Fall
10. The Garments, The Sour Wine
11. The Crucifixion
12. The Death
13. Pietá
14. The Burial

Verket beställdes av Kyrkans Musikfestival och är skrivet till Hans Hellsten.

Alinea I-III (1997-2000) - Kent Olofsson
string quartet, tape, computer
Alinea I-III - detailed information
Work note by the composer

Alinea consists of three movements; the first is for tape alone, the second is for string quartet with tape and the third for string quartet and computer.

I started the work with Alinea by composing the second movement. All of the tape is based on a recorded material of short phrases and chords played by a string quartet. These materials were then processed with different computer programmes. The string quartet parts was developed and composed out of the tape material.

In the first movement the tape material of the second movement was further processed. The third and last movement is a kind of transcription of the first movement of tape-music into a movement for string quartet. The whole first movement was analyzed and transformed into notes and rhythms which then became the material for composing the movement. In this part the string quartet is processed with harmonizers.

Alinea II was commissioned by Musik i Halland and first performed by Ensemble Ginestra in 1998. Later the same year Alinea I was composed and premiered at Musikmuséet in Stockholm at composer portrait concert. Alinea III was written in 2000 for Quartetto Ars Nova who also premiered

Arcangelo's Ground (2002-03) - Kent Olofsson
8 violoncelli
Arcangelo's Ground - detailed information
Work note by the composer

In many of my works, like in Enneagram for chamber ensemble and in Parceas Cordes for trio, I have been composing with techniques that could be described as variations. When I started the work on Arcangelo's Ground I studied some historical facts about the variation form. I came across Arcangelo Corelli's famous violin sonata La Folia and started trying out different treatments on the first 8 bars of this piece. The result was very interesting and it became the material for my new work for Octuor de Violoncelles.

But it does not sound very much like Corelli however...The basic rhythm of La Folia is used to form complex rhythmic layers, and the melody and chords has been modulated to create a most special harmony (but sometimes you can clearly hear the original rhythm! and you can also hear the original melody at a certain point).

The piece is written in four movements, a rather classical form. The first part has high tempi and is full of energy. The second movement is slower in tempi and more gentle but there are also some more aggressive parts. The third movement has a very special feeling and could perhaps be called Largo. One can hear the harmony which is used in the piece most clearly here. The piece ends with a short and fast fourth movement.

It was a fascinating work to compose for an ensemble of 8 celli, there are so many possibilities, a huge register and huge palette of interesting timbres to use. One idea I have tried to use is to combine the eight musicians in different ways, quite often as two quartets, which can be heard clearly in the middle of the first movement. In the third movement there are two playing a kind of bass line, three are playing sustained chords and two are playing fragments of a melody in the higher register. A most special place with this idea is about 3 minutes into the first movement where they first play a rhythm together (the original Corelli of course...), then they fell apart into two quartets, then into four duos, and finally, into eight solo parts!

Arcangelo's Ground was commissioned by Octuor de Violoncelles and the Swedish Concert Institute (Rikskonserter) and composed between May 2002 and March 2003. The first performance took place in Beauvais May 7th 2003 with Octuor de Violoncelles during the festival 11e Rencontres d'Ensembles de Violoncelles de Beauvais.

Burning Pitch (1993-94) - Kent Olofsson
saxophone quartet, alto saxophone, live-electronics, tape
Burning Pitch - detailed information
Work note by the composer

Part 1. The Line of Confusion  6.15

Part 2. The Stones of Emptiness  13.10


"Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
And its dust into brimstone;
Its land shall become burning pitch.

It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend for ever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it for ever and ever.

But the pelican and the porcupine shall posses it,
Also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.
And he shall stretch out over it
The line of confusion and the stones of emptiness.

They shall call its nobles to the kingdom,
But none shall be there,
and all its princes shall be nothing.

And thorns shall come up in its palaces,
Nettles and brambles in its fortresses;
It shall be a habitation of jackals,
A courtyard for ostriches.

The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals,
And the wild goat shall bleat to its companion;
Also the night creature shall rest there.

There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs
And hatch, and gather them under her shadow;
There also shall the hawks be gathered,
Every one with her mate."

(ISAIAH 34: 9-15)

Work on this piece started in the autumn of 1992 when I, together with Stockholm's Saxophone Quartet, spent a day recording improvised sequences which were arranged directly with different effects. These improvisations gave me many ideas for this piece. All recorded material is from this occasion. This, together with the text from Isaiah, is the basis of the composition. In this production each musician plays a number of different saxophones which allows unusual combinations, such as, in the last part where two baritone saxophones, a bass saxophone and a synthophone are used. I composed The Stones of Emptiness during the spring of 1993 and the first performance was given at the electro-acoustic music festival in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden in June 1993. I wrote The Line of Confusion the following year. Working with Stockholm's Saxophone Quartet is a very special experience, they are extremely inspiring and creative musicians. They seem to have an unflagging will and curiosity when brought up against new compositions and new ways of working. This is, of course, the reason why so many composers have written music for them.

Stockholm's Saxophone Quartet was established in 1969 by Sven Westerberg. During the 70s Per Hedlund and Leif Karlborg became members of the quartet and in 1984 Jörgen Pettersson joined them. Since then, work has been concentrated more and more towards contemporary art music and the collaboration with composers, both the promising young ones and the more established ones. During the past few years the quartet has done a lot of work with various electro acoustic musicians.

I wrote The Line of Confusion for Jörgen Pettersson, a musician renowned for his brilliant interpretations of contemporary music. He studied at the college of music in Stockholm where he was the first to receive a post graduate diploma on the saxophone. He has also studied with Jean-Marie Londeix in Bordeaux and also in USA.

Chladni's Bow (2006-07) - Kent Olofsson
accordion, orchestra, electronics
Chladni's Bow - detailed information
Work note by the composer

The work is written as a commission for the festival Sound Around for James Crabb and RUO. Already from the start it was clear that it was supposed to be a work for a special room, in which the musicians' placement and the sounds' movement are important factors. The cooperation with Arktektskolen and their ideas for the concert gave me further ideas and inspiration for my work with the composition.

When I started working I had an imagination of the piece as an installation in the room, where the light could be of great importance and create a room in the room. I studied the artist Carlos Cruz-Diez's series of work "Physichromie", a kinetic art form where he works with light in a sophisticated way, and which creates optic illusions in the room. He writes:

Physichromies are structures that reveal different behaviors and conditions of color. They change according to the displacement of environmental light and of the spectator, projecting color in space and creating an evolving situation.

In the subtitle Physisonochromie I allude both to the moving sound objects in the work, but also to the fact that the audience will catch the work differently depending on where they sit in the concert room.

The title of the work comes from the German physician Ernst Chladni (1756-1827). He invented a technique which showed different patterns when elastic surfaces are put into vibration. In his book from 1787, Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges, it is shown how a metal plate, covered with a thin layer of sand, is put to vibrate by "playing" on it with a bow. When the metal plate resounds, the sand is shaped in certain patterns. The sand shapes along the so called node lines. These patterns are called Chladni's Sound Sculptures.

Nowadays a sound generator is used instead of a bow. While working with the piece I watched a video showing an example of this. The tone from the generator was a slow glissando, which put the plate into movement and different patterns emerged in the sand when the glissando hit certain notes. In my work there are two parts where a slow glissando starts different patterns of sounds in the orchestra groups. Also, at one level I see the accordion soloist as some sort of generator that puts different parts of the room and orchestra into movement.

As a preparation for Chladni's Bow I wrote two works as feasibility studies: Physisonochromie I - electro acoustic music, and Treccia for Accordion - Physisonochromie II. In principle, all basic materials come from these two works.

Chladni's Bow (2006-07) - Kent Olofsson
accordion, orchestra, electronics
Chladni's Bow - detailed information
Work note by the composer

Verket är skrivet på beställning av festivalen Sound Around för James Crabb och RUO. Redan från början var det klart att det skulle bli ett verk också för ett speciellt rum, där en viktig bit var musikernas placering och ljudens förflyttning i rummet. Samarbetet med Arkitektskolen och deras idéer kring konserten gav vidare idéer och inspiration för kompositionsarbetet.

När jag började med verket hade jag en föreställning om verket som en installation i rummet där ljuset skulle kunna ha stor betydelse och bilda rum i rummet. Jag tittade på konstnären Carlos Cruz-Diez verkserie "Physichromie", en kinetisk konst där han på ett sofistikerat sätt arbetar med ljus och som skapar optiska illusioner i rummet. Han skriver:

Physichromies are structures that reveal different behaviors and conditions of color. They change according to the displacement of environmental light and of the spectator, projecting color in space and creating an evolving situation.

Jag anspelar i undertiteln Physisonochromie dels på de rörliga ljudobjekten i verket, dels på att publiken i Chladni's Bow kommer att höra verket olika beroende på var de sitter i salen där verket framförs.

Verkets titel kommer från den tyske fysikern Ernst Chladni (1756-1827). Han uppfann en teknik som visade olika typer av mönster när elastiska ytor sätts i vibration. I hans bok från 1787, Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges, visas hur en metallplatta täckt med ett tunt lager sand, fås att vibrera genom att "spela" på den med en stråke. När resonans uppstår i metallplattan formas sanden till speciella mönster, den lägger sig vid de så kallade nodlinjerna. Dessa mönster har kallats Chladnis Klangfigurer.

På senare tid har man använt en tongenerator istället för en stråke. Under arbetet med stycket såg jag ett videoavsnitt med ett exempel på detta. Tonen från generatorn var ett långsamt glissando vilket gjorde att när glissandot passerade vissa toner sattes skivan i rörelse och olika mönster uppstod i sanden. Två såna här avsnitt finns i verket där ett långsamt glissando startar olika klangmönster i orkestergrupperna. På ett plan har jag också sett accordeonsolisten som en slags generator som sätter olika delar av rummet och av orkestern i rörelse.

Inför arbetet med Chladni's Bow skrev jag två verk som förstudier: Physisonochromie I - elektroakustisk musik, samt Treccia for Accordeon - physisonochromie II. I princip allt grundläggande material kommer från dessa båda verk.

Corde (2002-2006) - Kent Olofsson
charango, electric MIDI-guitar, glissentar, 11-stringed alto guitar, banjo, live electronics, orchestra
Corde - detailed information
Work note by Stefan Östersjö

Corde (2002-06), for guitarist and orchestra, is a work in three parts: 1) Fascia (BMW kompositionspreises der Musica Viva 2002) for charango, midi-electric guitar, electronics, and orchestra 2) Collagène/Fascia II for Glissentar, 11-stringed alto guitar and orchestra 3) Colloïde/Fascia epilogue for 5-stringed banjo and ensemble.

Fascia (2002) is music that melds different genres, cultures, and epochs. This part of Corde was premiered in 2004 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Lothar Zagrosek. In medical terminology, 'Fascia' means the tissue that holds the muscles together. The title refers to the way that the orchestra is connected with the solo instrument, but also to the way in which elements from different musical cultures are united. The solo instrument represents different musical cultures and parts of the world, and the way in which these are connected with a complex contemporary orchestral music is the mystery of the piece.

Kent Olofsson and Stefan Östersjö

© Åke Hedström

The charango is a small octave guitar, the ancestry of which can be traced from the baroque guitar. With the colonization of Latin America, it came to live on as a folk instrument traditionally made from armadillo shells. Its traditional scordatura is closely aligned to that of the baroque guitar, with which it has several idiomatic similarities. In Fascia, the charango's double references, to both Latin American folk music and Western European baroque music, are bridged through the many roles of the electric guitar.

The use of MIDI technique steers a sampler that plays sampled charango on an electric guitar, which expands the register of the instrument beyond that which is ordinarily possible and allows it to sound at the same time as the electric guitar and an "acoustic" steel-stringed guitar! The electric guitar is often played with an E-bow, but also with classical right-hand techniques. An E-bow is an early electronic tool that was developed at the end of the 1960s; the first commercial model was produced in 1976. Since then it has been used by many leading rock guitarists and several virtuoso techniques have been developed for it, such as arpeggiation, volume, and timbre changes, all of which play an important part in the three E-bow sections of Fascia.

The composer extracts the structural building blocks of the work from the first 23 measures of the charango part. The rhythmic material presented here is passed on to different orchestral groups in varying temporal layers, the longest of which is as long as the entire movement. The five pairs of strings of the charango are tuned to different intervals and the harmonies and the peculiar two-part writing that spring from this are factors that contribute to the character of the piece. Rasgueado, tremolo, and arpeggio techniques that are used in the charango part have also been transformed into the orchestra and electric guitar.

Aside from these strategies that are used to amalgamate the solo instrument with the orchestra, another fundamental principle is the overlapping of different layers and formal parts. In Collagène/Fascia II and Colloïde/Fascia epilogue (2006), three more stringed instruments are added to the solo part: the glissentar (a fretless 11-stringed guitar) and 11-stringed alto guitar as well as a 5-stringed banjo. The 11-stringed alto guitar (1966) was developed by Professor Per-Olof Johnsson and the guitar maker Georg Bolin to be a guitar containing the same technical capabilities as the Italian arch lute of the early baroque period. Godin's Glissentar is a later creation: a fretless, double course solid body guitar with 5 double string pairs and a single lowest string, like a hybrid between an Arabic oud and an electric guitar. Thanks to the double string sets, the harmonic material from the differently tuned strings of the charango can be taken into the second movement.

Collagène functions as a sort of afterimage of Fascia. Gestures and events return here, both in the solo part and the orchestra, transformed into a more low-key and fluid state. This movement is dedicated to György Ligeti, who passed away while Kent was working on the orchestral score and whose orchestral music can clearly be seen as a source of inspiration. Aside from these "transcriptions" of material from Fascia, the glissentar part is a reinterpretation of an earlier solo work for the same instrument, Alambic II (2004), which was written as a kind of early study for the concerto, the material from which is here expanded and varied. In the epilogue, for banjo with E-bow and small ensemble, some motives are again taken from Fascia: a rasgueado chord from the opening measures that quickly diminishes, a "col legno" with the E-bow, some campanella figures à la charango, fragments that lead to a long glissando and a cadenza for the banjo and E-bow like a diminutive aria, an overtone technique that became possible thanks to Plus E-bow (1988). The denouement of the work, with a chord in the harp, viola, and banjo followed by hands rubbing on the lid of the banjo, is the final memory from Fascia, set to the landscape provided by rattling maracas taken from the introductory measures.

Dora Träumt (2007) - Kent Olofsson
chamber ensemble
Dora Träumt - detailed information
Work note by the composer

The libretto for Erwartung was written by a young medical student, Marie Pappenheim and it has been claimed that the woman in the text, "Die Frau", has connections to a case history by Freud, "Anna O.". However, as Alexander Carpenter points out in his essay Schoenberg's Erwartung and Freudian Case Histories: A Preliminary Investigation, there is another case with strong relationships to "Die Frau" in the text, a case history of Dora entitled Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. Freud's analysis of the young girl's dreams shows clear connections to the scenes in Erwartung. Dora is dreaming that she is in a forest, an anxiety causing place, just like in Erwartung. And at a closer look the two texts are overloaded with shared dream symbols.

While Schoenberg in this work from 1909 uses free atonal and a-thematic composition methods the piece Dora träumt is composed with more strict techniques found later in the works of Schoenberg and Webern, like the use of twelve-tone rows and "Klangfarben"-melodies. Some very short fragments, a chord, some "Klangfarben", is taken from Erwartung to form the basic material for Dora träumt.

Dora träumt was commissioned as an opening piece for Schoenberg's Erwartung.

Eos Weeping Dew (1994) - Kent Olofsson
Eos Weeping Dew - detailed information
Work note by the composer

Eos Weeping Dew was a personification of the dawn of the morning. A fresh wind was felt at her approach, the morning star still lingered in the sky, and ruddy beams "shot the orient through with gold"; and because these beams appeared like outspread fingers, she was called "rosy-fingered Morn".

She loved all fresh young life, and showed special favour to those persons whose active spirit led them abroad in the morning to hunt or to make war. When struck with the beauty of a youth she would carry him off, and obtain immortal life for.

Tithonos became her husband and she lived with him pleasantly so long as his youth and beauty lasted. Unfortunately, in obtaining immortality for him from Zeus, she had omitted to add to her request, "and eternal youth". When white hairs showed themselves on his head she was not the same to him as before. He became quite helpless at last, and, to avoid the sight of his decrepitude, she shut him up in a chamber, where only his voice was heard like the chirp of a grasshopper, into which creature, it was said he became transformed.

Eos and Tithonos had two sons, Memnon and Emathion, the former widely celebrated for his beauty, and mourned for his early death at the hands of Achilles. His dead body was carried by his weeping mother to Aethiopia; and at Thebes, in Egypt, she erected in his memory that wonderful monument which, when the first rays of the morning sun touched it, gave forth a sound like the snapping of a harp string.

The piece is composed out of sampled metal percussion sounds, which have been transformed and altered in different ways. Even though the sounds have been, sometimes heavily, processed, the acoustic quality of the percussions have been preserved. In some parts this gives the impression of an almost live percussion group.

Eos Weeping Dew belongs to a series of works for percussion instruments. The first was Invoking Aeolos for two percussion trios, composed 1993, just before my work with Eos Weeping Dew. In 1994 I composed Phaëthon Wheel, a piece for six percussion and in 1996-97 a percussion solo concert with orchestra, Hepheastus Forge. In 1996-97/99 I composed Minotaur Labyrinth - Treccia for Percussion solo.

Eos Weeping Dew was commissioned by the Groupe Musique Expérimental de Bourges and realised in their Studio Circe during the spring 1994. It was premiered at the Synthés festival in Bourges in June 1994.

Flutes And Cymbals For Cybele (1991) - Kent Olofsson
flute, percussion, tape
Flutes And Cymbals For Cybele - detailed information
Work note by the Tony Lundman

Flutes and Cymbals for Cybele was written during the spring of 1991 for Terje Thiwång, who also gave the first performance of the work together with the Ars Nova Ensemble in the Malmö Concert Hall. The title refers to the myth about the fertility goddess Cybele, and the composer has included the myth in a preface to the score. Here are a few additional comments about the music itself.

The tape part consists of adapted flute sounds and the music is notated after a time axis marked in five-second intervals. The piece begins quietly with controlled dynamics. The flute's whizzing figures, grace-notes and quarter-tones around the note A''' are surrounded by sparse, ethereal, wave-like sounds from the percussion and tape. By this point a kind of tonal centre of gravity based on the note A has already been established, and it is retained throughout the piece. Sometimes the playing is synchronised, as for instance after about three minutes, when the flute figures are shadowed by tones from the bottles and then by the gongs. Approximately in the middle of the piece the music becomes more agitated, more tense. Pattering sounds in the tape part alternate with glissandi which rise through the frequencies, while the flute's gestures become increasingly spasmodic. After six minutes rhythmic figures are heard, while the modulated tones of the flute seem to border on human speech. This passage is followed by fresh outbursts of agitation with the percussion and the tape part in the foreground, until the flute pierces its way through the registers with renewed force, supported by accents from a cymbal. The flute then plays a kind of calm signal, like weak cries, in the shrillest registers. In the final minute of the piece the flute once again flutters round the note A, but gradually subsides, rounding off with a few faint glissandi harmonics which are reminiscent of the opening of the piece. The music, which abounds in extraneous sound effects, quarter-tones, multiphonics and unexpected dynamic contrasts, presents a considerable challenge to the flute-player.

Il Liuto d'Orfeo (1998-99) - Kent Olofsson
guitar, tape
Il Liuto d'Orfeo - detailed information
Work note by the composer

Il Liuto d'Orfeo consists of five movements, marked by the guitarist's changes of instruments. Three different guitars are used: charango, ten-stringed guitar and normal, 6-stringed classical guitar. The distribution of instruments between the movements is as follows:

I. charango,
II. 6-stringed,
III. 10-stringed,
IV. charango,
V. 10-stringed

All the instruments have been retuned, in particular the classical guitar which is tuned very different from usual; certain stringed are tuned down a tritone. All the instruments have strings that are tuned a quarter-tone from the usual pitch. This makes it possible to play quarter-tone scales and harmonics with quartertones which obviously creates a special colour.

In the piece the guitars approach each other; typical playing techniques on one instrument are also used on the others, as for example the rasquado technique on the charango which is frequently used on the 6-stringed guitar, and which is also an important sound source in the tape part. Other playing techniques are also used which one normally comes across in other guitar instruments, in particular the electric guitar. The technique of "bending" the strings (bending the note up a semitone or a whole tone) is very common on the electric guitar, for instance, and this technique is frequently heard in Il Liuto d'Orfeo.

Due to the retuning, the use of harmonics becomes more exciting since completely new combinations of harmonics arise. This is particularly noticeable in the third movements, where the guitarist almost entirely plays harmonics on the ten-stringed guitar. Other special techniques are the use of bottle-necks. The instruments are also struck with a spoon (!), and this is also an important role in the tape part. The tape part could be described as an extension of the guitar instruments and consists solely of processed samplings from the charango and the ten-stringed guitar.

The work has involved a long compositional process which has meant that its special sound world has been allowed to develop gradually. Thanks to my own background as a guitarist, I have been able to play my way to much of the guitar part and thereby been able to create a virtuoso work for guitar which is still idiomatic. The material for the tape part has to a large extent influenced the design of the instrumental part.

The title refers of course to the classical myth about Orpheus and his lyre, and his power to move the spectres and furies that guard the underworld.

The first performance took place at the Stockholm New Music festival in March 1999 with Stefan Östersjö as soloist.

Il Liuto d'Orfeo was awarded Prize at the 26th Internationel Electroacoustic Music Competition, Bourges 1999, in the cathegory electro acoustic concert music with instruments; "studio and score".

Il Sogno di Tartini (1999-2000) - Kent Olofsson
violin, computer/tape
Il Sogno di Tartini - detailed information
Work note by the composer

One night in 1713 the Italian composer and violinist Guiseppe Tartini dreamt that the devil came to him, took his violin and played a solo, so fantastic that it was beyond anything he had ever heard. Tartini woke up, seized his violin and tried to play some of the things he heard in the dream, but in vain. Instead, he sat down and composed a sonata over his impressions from the dream. This became the Sonata del diavolo, The "Devil's Trill" sonata, a g-minor sonata in four movements. Il Sogno di Tartini is composed on a few fragments from the "Devil's Trill" sonata and on a number of recorded phrases and gestures that Bodil Rørbech plays on her violin. All the material in the tape part originates from these recordings. The material has been processed and mixed in various computer programs and the violin part has been created out of the tape part material. The most prominent material in both the tape and the violin part is the use of all the different trills.

The piece can be performed either with a tape part or with a computer where the performer triggers the different parts of the tape.

Il Sogno di Tartini was commissioned by DIEM, Aarhus, Denmark, with financial support from NOMUS, for the violinist Bodil Rørbech. The work was composed between August 1999 and March 2000, the tape part was mainly realized in the DIEM studios. First performance by Bodil Rørbech in Copenhagen April 15, 2000.

Lamentationes (1987-92) - Kent Olofsson
baritone, 4 sopranos, viola, clarinet (bass clarinet), percussion, guitar, flute, tape
Lamentationes - detailed information
Work note by the composer
  1. In Affliction
  2. The Degradation
  3. The Anguish
  4. The Anger
  5. A Prayer

I started working on Lamentationes in 1987. I had received an award which enabled me to stay and work in Lübeck all summer. I stayed at Buddenbrockhaus, a house which had once belonged to the author Thomas Mann's family. Opposite the house stands the church of St. Mary where Buxtehude once worked. It is said that J. S. Bach as a young man walked over 200 km in order to hear Buxtehude play there. During the Second World War the church was severely damaged by bombs, one of the large bells fell from its place high up in the tower and was wedged into the stone floor of the church. It is still there. I wonder how it sounded when it fell. I bought a miniature replica of the bell as a souvenir, it is one of the little bells in Lamentationes. I decided from the beginning to let the five biblical lamentations run parallel to each other throughout the composition. I wrote down all the verses on little pieces of paper which I put out all over the floor. This enabled me to simply set up different possibilities and then step by step work out the form of the composition. The first version from 1987 reminds me in many ways of the final one although there were more instruments and no tape voice in it. The musical language was different and I used the Swedish text. Only one movement was completed.

The book of Lamentations was ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah. The form of the lamentations is one which Jeremiah often wrote and the Lamentations are about the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, which Jeremiah witnessed. It is commonly believed that there were also other authors who witnessed the destruction. The religious outlook of the Lamentations is a prophetic one. The destruction of Jerusalem is a punishment from God for the sins of the people. The prophet Jeremiah warned the people, but they would not listen to him. In Jeremiah's book the prophet's summons from God, the sins of the people and the prophecies are described as the punishments which the people were to suffer. In the Lamentations five songs of mourning have been put together from which the last has the form of a prayer. It is a harrowing portrayal of the tragic destiny of Zion - Jerusalem after the attack by the Babylons under Nebuchadnezzar. On stone carvings from this time the portrayal has been verified: mutilations, torture and forced labour were the destiny of the deported people.

The lyrics alternate between different expressions but a common feature is the feeling of hopelessness and despair. There is sometimes wrath in the lyrics, sometimes deep mourning and great emptiness. But throughout the lyrics there is a gleam of hope, hope that God will take the people to him again.

In 1988 the artist Peter Jönsson and I created the iconophonic room. The theme of the first iconophonic room was the lamentations. I abandoned the first version, and from the form that I had set up I made a graphic score for a tape version for five loudspeakers. Some of the singers read and sang the lyrics to a landscape of sound consisting of an un-tuned violin, an electric guitar, recorders, cardboard boxes, a metal staircase etc. I used many of the sounds later in the tape voice in Lamentationes. The iconophonic room has been on display in several cities and has attracted a lot of attention.

In 1990 I resumed my work on the acoustic version. I started more or less from the beginning. I retained the lyrics, style and the form that had previously been set up. I now used five duo-groups and tapes for the arrangement.

The composition techniques and the musical language differed from the first version. Having already worked so much on the lyrics and the form I could now write more intuitively, I knew how I wanted the expressions in the different sections. Both of the previous versions were naturally important as I have picked out ideas from them, especially from the graphic score which became the foundation in certain sections.

The Book of Lamentations in the Bible consists of five chapters, five songs of mourning. Each song consists of 22 verses (the third chapter 3 x 22 verses) In the Hebrew original each verse begins with a new letter from the Hebrew alphabet, an acrostic. Lamentationes has the same structure as the songs of mourning. The composition consists of 22 parts grouped in 5 movements: movements I and V consist of 5 parts; movements II, III, IV of 4 parts. Between each movement there is a short interlude for flute and percussion.

The singers and musicians are divided into five duos:

  1. Soprano I & viola (Eva-Lis Karlsson & Ulf Åberg)
  2. Soprano II & clarinet (bass clarinet) (Mimmi Nilsdotter & Gert Blomqvist)
  3. Baritone & percussion (Johan Weigel & Lars Gärd)
  4. Soprano II & guitar (Marie-Louise Persson & Anders Jallén)
  5. Soprano IV & flute (Viveca Axell & Terje Thiwång)

Each singer performs one of the songs of mourning and the 5 songs run parallel to each other through the piece. The duo group combinations are different in each part; one group, two groups, up until the two parts where all five groups perform against each other simultaneously. By this the music moves from the sparing to very complex passages. In the autumn of 1990 I got The Centaur Consort together and two movements (I & III) were performed in Stockholm and Malmö. The performances went well but there was something not quite right. I listened many times to the recordings and finally decided to use the Latin lyrics. The Swedish translation was not right for my version, the lyrics were obtrusive and too fragmentary for the expression I was seeking. The Latin version altered my relationship to the lyrics and allowed the music to convey the expression.

In 1991-1992 I composed the final version. Although I retained most of the first and third movements from 1990 certain parts were modified. The whole of the tape voice was rearranged, in the end I used material from the 1988 tape version, the 1990 version, samplings from the 1990 performances, new material and material from some of my other pieces, i.e. Ad Cor and The Garden of Earthly Delights. The tape voice was recorded mainly at the MHM studio; certain passages at EMS. When I wrote the final parts I felt that I was on the right track, the sounds, expression and gestures corresponded at last. During the spring and summer I was able to get The Centaur Consort together again. The first performance of the complete composition was given in The Church of St. Andrew in Malmö.

At the beginning of my work on Lamentationes I planned a studio recording of the composition. By using multichannel recording I could set out the duo groups in different rooms and in different areas of the sound picture in a way impossible at a concert performance. This also made it possible for me to change the acoustic sound by sound effects as I pleased. The recording was made in September 1994, straight after a performance at the UNM-festival in Malmö.

The Centaur Consort is the ensemble I have put together for Lamentationes. I have worked with several of the members of the ensemble over a period of almost 10 years and it is a fantastic group of musicians and singers. They all show dazzling technique but I am also fascinated by their musical intelligence, their many ideas and their sensitivity to sound and expression.

Minotaur Labyrinth (1997) - Kent Olofsson
Minotaur Labyrinth - detailed information
Work note by the composer, translation by George Kentros

Since 1989, I have worked on a series of pieces for solo instruments with the common title Treccia. The works also share the same simple formula (a-b-c-b-a-b-c-b-a), which controls different musical parameters. The number three is also important in all the works: three voices, three layers, three processes etc. Minotaur Labyrinth has three instrument groups: metal, wood and drums, each group also containing high, middle and low registers. The work is divided into three times three parts where three, six or nine (!) rhythmic processes are in progress simultaneously. This 'impossibility' from a performance technical standpoint is typical for the Treccia works. They are all virtuoso in their own ways, and make great demands on the performer, thanks to which an intensity and concentration can be achieved in concert.

Treccia for percussion is the seventh solo work in the series. It is, however, a little special, since it has a double title. It also belongs to another group of works, a series for different percussion instruments with certain similarities in material. The two first works are Invoking Æolos, for two percussion trios, and Eos Weeping Dew, an electroacoustic piece based on percussion sounds. Later came Phaëton Wheel, for percussion sextet, and the percussion concerto Hepheastus Forge. All of these titles associate to events and figures in Greek mythology. The works also have in common the fact that they are built on long processes involving rhythmic layers that develop in different directions. Slowly accelerating and retarding rhythms are important components. Working with timbres is also an important facet of the pieces. Minotaur Labyrinth is special in this respect, since the performer is free to choose the instruments within each instrument group.

The work was written for Jonny Axelsson and commissioned by the Swedish National Concert Institute.

Parcæs Cordes (2001-02) - Kent Olofsson
alto flute, alto guitar, viola, tape
Parcæs Cordes - detailed information
Work note by Bengt Adlers, translation by George Kentros

The Parcæs, the three goddesses of fate in Greek mythology, spin threads of life. Here, the goddesses dwell in the three instruments and steer the birth, lifetime, and death of mankind with their timbres. The eleven strings of the alto guitar have a special atmosphere, and the tone material of the piece has been gleaned from their overtones. Ropemaker's path. Low houses. Fishing nets dry in the wind. Rocks as weights, rustle as the wind strengthens. The sea reaches for the yarn. Duel. Thread spinner. The spider dribbles around, always in the same path. But it's understandable. As long as there are stupid flies. Single combat. Lifeline spinner. An unborn child. An umbilical cord around the neck. Fight to the death. And so the music fades breathlessly away. Full of wonder, I grope back into daily life, the greyness of which has become much lighter during the past hour. Life has once again emerged victorious. War in the air. Full moon. The time of the wolf. Spring solstice. The March evening is cold in Växjö. Some like it hot. I like it hot x.

Tarpeian Rock (1996-97) - Kent Olofsson
alto flute, bass clarinet, guitar, violoncello, percussion, synthesizer K2000
Tarpeian Rock - detailed information
Work note by the composer

"... Tarpeia, daughter of the commandet of the Roman fortress of the Capitoline Hill during a war with the Sabines. ... the Sabines, under their king, Tatius, were storming the hill. Tarpeia, tempted by the gold bracelets of the enemy soldiers wore on their left arms, offered to open a gate of the fortress if they would give her what they had on their left arms. The king accepted her terms and as the soldiers entered, they threw upon her the other thing they bore on their left arms, their shields.

That part of the hill was named the Tarpeian Rock after her; later, Roman criminals were hurled to their death from it."

Tarpeian Rock was structured and composed from a number of specially programmed sounds and sound gestures on the synthesizer Kurzweil 2000. Some parts use sounds similar in character and gives a homogeneous impression, other parts combine sounds with great contrasts. The changes and combinations are often abrupt. The other five instruments pick up the sounds and the gestures from the synthesizer, extend and transform them into their own idiomatic domains.

Tarpeian Rock was written for Ensemble Ars Nova and was first performed in Stockholm in February 1997. The recording on this CD was made right after a performance at the Warzaw Autumn Festival in September 1998.

Treccia For Guitar (1990/91) - Kent Olofsson

Kent Olofsson har skrivit en hel serie av solokompositioner med titeln Treccia. Treccia for guitar solo är den andra av tre i serien publicerad av Edition Suecia. Den första - Minotaur Labyrint/Treccia for percussion solo - utkom i december 2000, Treccia for violoncello solo är den tredje i serien, utgivna på Edition Suecia. De tre kompositionerna finns inspelade på cd.

Treccia For Piano (1989/90) - Kent Olofsson
Treccia For Piano - detailed information
Work note by the composer

In 1989-90 I wrote a piece for solo violin where I in different ways approached the compositional problems that come about while working with pieces for solo instruments. The work was called Treccia which is Italian and means wicker-work. Since the solo violin piece I have written eight more Treccia pieces; for piano, for guitar, for violoncello, for flute, for contrabass clarinet, for percussion, for trombone and for recorder.

I wrote Treccia for piano while I was still a studying composition. The piece was a part of a project with new works for piano. I worked with the piece together with the pianist Stina Backlund. The piece received it first public performance in 1999 by Fredrik Ullén.

Each of the Treccia compositions contains three lines which are interlaced into the musical process. The lines often have fairly repetitive material which develops differently. The material becomes denser and thinner, is enlarged and reduced, tec. A common formula (A-B-C-B-A-B-C-B-A) controls the parameters of the lines in the compositions. The material in Treccia for piano is treated in a vertical manner, the musical components are cut to pieces and put together creating new patterns, which in their turn are cut apart.

The Treccia compositions also have in common that they are idiomatic and virtuoso at the same time. They require that the interpreter is fully concentrated which gives the intensity that I seek to attain during performance.

Treccia For Trombone (2000) - Kent Olofsson
Treccia For Trombone - detailed information
Work note by Tony Lundman, translation by George Kentros

Treccia for trombone, by Kent Olofsson, moves outwards towards the spheres - with the almost claustrophobic effect which circular breathing and gasping for breath has in the seamless music. Colours are woven together, a sort of tone timbre counterpoint. Treccia means plaited basketwork.

Treccia was premiered at the New Music Days in Malmö, 2000, by Ivo Nilsson.

Treccia For Violoncello (1993) - Kent Olofsson
Treccia For Violoncello - detailed information
Work note by the composer

In the spring of 1993 I was at a music festival in Stockholm. At one of the evening concerts Trio des Lyres played music by Xenakis. I was immensely fascinated by their performance, especially by Chrichan Larson's fantastic solo in a piece for the cello. After the performance I was told that there were plans for a concert with Chrichan in Gothenburg and that he was searching for a solo piece for this occasion. I suggested that I could write a Treccia for the violoncello and everyone agreed that it was a good idea. Said and done, Föreningen Levande Musik commissioned the piece and I wrote it during the summer and in November 1993 the first performance was given at Unga Atalante in Gothenburg. Chrichan gave a fantastic performance.

Treccia for violoncello is the fourth piece in a series of solo compositions, all of them with the title Treccia. The first one was written for the violin (1989), the second one for the piano (1990), and the third for the guitar (1990-91). The fifth one, for the flute, was written in the autumn of 1994. Treccia means wicker-work and each composition contains three lines which are interlaced into the musical process. The lines often have fairly repetitive material which develops differently. The material becomes denser and thinner, is enlarged and reduced, etc. A common formula (A-B-C-B-A-B-C-B-A) controls the parameters of the lines in the compositions. The five compositions also have in common that they are idiomatic and virtuoso at the same time. They require that the interpreter is fully concentrated which gives the intensity that I seek to attain during performance.

Treccia for violoncello is published on Edition Suecia. Previous publications on Edition Suecia are Treccia for guitar solo and Minotaur Labyrinth - Treccia for percussion solo.