What is this all about?

The idea of this thesis is to describe my experience and development as a musician during my studies at the Nordic Master in Folk Music (NoFo) programme. This will be done with special attention given to the tension-field between folk music as Functional Music and folk music as Art Music. I will make an attempt to put this tension-field in a historical context, and also make rough definitions of how I use the terms Function and Art. My own development during this masters programme can very much be described as a movement from the idea of folk music as Function towards the idea of folk music as Art. I will try to describe how this movement is intertwined with my self-image as a musician, and how that has affected my music making.

 Furthermore I will describe the methodsI have been using in my artistic development. This includes different ideas I have been using as a starting point for music making, as well as how I have been using my body and playing as tools for development.

 I have tried to keep the focus of the thesis on the present day situation, and what I have been doing during the two years master’s course, and not giving too much space to how this all relates to my past. Even so, I have felt that it is necessary to describe some things about my my musical background to help the reader understand what the shifting of view on folk music means to me, and why it created such a big change.

 As an appendix there are some musical examples included, as well as some more anecdotal texts from the blog I was running together with my fellow NoFo students, as well as a quite random paralell to a book I read during my stay in Helsinki.

Writing this master thesis has been a great way of helping myself understand what I have been doing during these two years of traveling, playing, experiencing, exploring, practicing, thinking and developing. In the end, the legacy of my NoFo studies is something that will stay with me for a long time.

All ideas and perspectives that I bring up could be extended a lot further, and I am greatly aware of the fact that a lot of the texts lack in depth and/or consistency. In the end, it is an artistic degree I have been doing, not a traditionally academic one. This written thesis is only a small part of the final examination. The reasons why I have chosen to present this thesis in the shape of a hypertext are explained here and here. For instructions of how to get going with reading, please look here. Or just move on to The Beginning.

Riddley Walker

The idea of how knowledge is transmitted in an oral, memory-based cultures showed up in the novel ‘Riddley Walker’ by Russel Hoban. The novel is set in a distant post-apocalyptic future where the stories from our present-day world, and all scientific knowledge we have today, has been transformed (mutilated one could say) in the oral transmission through the years. Even more interesting, Hoban explores the development of language through time. The whole book is written in a pretend future dialect of English, extrapolated from present day Kentish. What he has done with language in his book, is directly applicable to music and how we treat (and could treat) the material found in old manuscript books. And the method (i.e. the way of thinking) could be applied heading (aiming) both backward and forward in time. We could listen to recordings, and try to imagine the development that has led to the result, and then try to think backwards to figure out what the music might have sounded like some 100 or 200 or 400 years ago. But we could also (as Heikki Laitinen would have suggested, and like Hoban does) direct the imagination forward, into the future, and try to figure out what the music will sound like in 100 or 400 years.