#libertéegalitétonalité – psychoacoustic research focusing on singing

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The hashtag #libertéegalitétonalité will from now on be used for posts here and other social media, for posts related to Kristin Borghed’s PhD project at the University of Aberdeen. The project is called Tuning the Human Voice: An Empirical Exploration of Tonality in Northern Traditional Singing. Feel free to scroll down this page for a short info film.


This PhD project on singing traditions in northern Europe, is in close cooperation with Folk Practice Academy, in fact, the work is inseparably intertwined.

This is a picture of me, my mother Elisabeth Bjurström Jonzon, Malungsfors, Sweden and my aunt Anna Hedin, Malungsfors, Sweden. They are the two singers that have had the greatest impact on me in terms of songs, singing style, story telling, general life advice, as well as together with other relatives always helping my family when I have been away singing, recording and writing.


For more info of the project, please read here!!  http://www.abdn.ac.uk/staffnet/profiles/r01keb12


Singing and playing instruments as a form of technology

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With a few days’ distance to sonADA 2015 | Theme: MESS (http://sonada.org/sonADA2015/), I have the opportunity to sit down and share som of my thoughts.

The festival invitation said “If music is organized sound, composing really starts by identifying chaotic elements. sonADA invites and challenges artists to showcase mess of their own.”, and I made two contributions. On the opening night of the festival, at the 17 Art Gallery in Aberdeen, Scotland, (https://www.list.co.uk/place/52799-seventeen/) I took part in a panel discussion as one out of three female composers/performers. With lively input from the audience, we talked about our backgrounds, but also if and how embodiment, and the aspect of gender/femininity, has impact on our creative and scientific work. My own contribution did, as always, start with some live singing. A little microtonality, and asymmetrical beats here and there sure wake up most audiences! It is a fine and thought provoking experience that when travelling abroad with the music that is closest and most intuitive to you, like a “nonsense song” or a lullaby you learned as a small child, musicians with decades of formal music education could make comments like “that must be difficult!” Yes, it is, and no, it’s not!

My talk was mainly on how singing and playing instruments are not only something you do in your spare time, but how the performative act of making live acoustic music is actually a form of technology in itself. Lots of discussions circled around what could be said to be a musical piece, regarding tradition. A very good question – please fell free to make comments here! (in any language, as always!)

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The second contribution was giving a performance together with my English Aberdeen colleague Nathan Bissette (http://www.serg-aberdeen.net). We have worked together for years, around performing and composing traditional, as well as classical and electronic music. We were invited as two separate composers, but chose to collaborate on a longer piece, made for this special occasion. It was a nice crowd, and we were prepared with our two chairs, the floor, a scarf, a computer, a guitar and two voices. The reception was very good, and people were singing along – as we encouraged them to, despite that this was not the typical folk audience that are used to that.

I left the festival with many good impressions, and an increased courage and interest in continuing to work for highlighting the multi-dimensional skills it takes being a traditional musician!

Tack för er stund!!

Kristin, PhD student at Elphinstone Institute (https://www.abdn.ac.uk/elphinstone/)


Performance and forests…

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The best way to perform folkmusic is to have the opportunity to bring it back to a place and an environment where it once used to exist.

Today we were a part of the opening of an Eco-park in the forests on the border of Skåne and Blekinge, by the lake Raslången. Vast forests of beech trees, those enormous trees that create an open and bright forest that seems to amaze every time you see it. And although the weather was windy and wet it was a nice day.

Last week we visited, together with some of the participants of the project Baltic Sea Inter Cult, the archive DAL (Dialekt- and ortsnamnarkivet) and listened to old recordings of calling and herding in these same forests. “Valla på skog” (herding in the forest) seemed to be a common expression among the informants. A practice that seems to be obvious in the northern part of Sweden, but still needs to be rediscovered here in the south.

And today we had the opportunity to bring the cultural sound of the forest back in its original place. It was the forest company Sveaskog, that hired us to bring a cultural and historical perspective to the opening, as well as setting an atmosphere.

We played tunes and sang songs from Skåne, Blekinge and Småland. And in between the different stations we did some office work in the car…

Moveable office…