Frans Waltmans. Intervjuu Mirjam Tallyga Frans Waltmansi koduleheküljel


Electronic world is like “cold” light, what can be a more or less lifeless. My main idea is to bring together both electronic and acoustic possibilities. Acoustic sounds bring in some warmness.

Mirjam, you are a promising young composer from Estonia, living and working as a freelance composer in Visby (SE). Can you describe your position in the musical landscape? 

Youngness gives you excuse or reason to experiment, composing process is like musical laboratory to test your ideas and musical skills. Feels good to be “on the way” in your creation, so, wandering person both in life and in art.

What is your newest composition and what is your aesthetical point in this composition?

I continue work with combining acoustic and electronic instruments, what always has been an important part in my aesthetics. Other thing, what has been important to me for long time, is to combine composition with improvisational elements (with different proportions of improvisation, it can be more or less limited, also only free note figures, etc). In recent times I try to push improvisational elements more to limited borders, to create “controlled freedom”.

Your composition Swinburne (2000) based on a poem by Hasso Krull is poetic, expressive and emotional. What do the words ‘feelings’ and ‘emotion’ mean to you? 

A lot! But it’s important to find balance between emotion and clearly structured handwork. Sometimes one part weights more than the other. Little unbalance can also be exciting... Best if all is not predictable, otherwise it’s not art anymore. It doesn’t mean to throw out technical skills and only lie on emotions. Technical skills give you this freedom to express yourself.

Swinburne has a personal individualistic touch, acoustic and electronic music, a kind of free jazz mixed with collage-like Bach elements. What does the word ‘individualism’ mean to you in relationship to your profession as a composer?

Composers work means loneliness. You have to make most of hard decisions alone. Maybe that is the reason, why I’m searching projects, where you can find more contacts with others - t. ex writing music for film. There are not only your own ideas. You have to absorb and reflect the ideas, what picture brings, too. And mix them with your own personality and style. I think, the best ideas are born in collaborations, in discussions and dialogues, not in isolated loneliness. But you need the distance sometimes, to concentrate on the most important things. Distance is good for hard work, and that can an artist find here on the island of Gotland, and local flora and fauna only supports your attempts.

Working with electronic means is important to you. There are musicians who say composing acoustic or electronic music are two totally different things. They say composing electronic music is like ‘sculpting sounds’. What is your vision about this aspect?

Electronic world is like “cold” light, what can be a more or less lifeless. My main idea is to bring together both electronic and acoustic possibilities. Acoustic sounds bring in some warmness.

Is there according to you a different aesthetical approach concerning feelings and emotion when you are writing (or listening to) acoustic music or electronic music? 

Yes, these two worlds are opposite to each other - electronic “cold” and liveness colours and acoustic world, what brings “warm” colours and liveliness. Technically, for me, it’s much easier to work with electronic sounds. You hear the final result directly and it’s easy to stay on abstract level. You need less writing-skills to get good results. In acoustic music it takes lots of time to learn yourself to express your ideas in abstract or philosophical level.

Swinburne is a beautiful composition, contemporary, and one can also hear it in the European music tradition. What are your ideas about musical structures for instance in this work or in recent works?   

Always, if I’m working with text, has the text main focus and musical structure develops according to this.

What is your opinion about the development of Western music after the 2nd World War until now? 

Stilistic pluralism, hard to follow or understand really the main picture, the wholeness. Seems that the whole art-world consists of small kaleidoscopic details, with some more or less isolated parts. Individualism and independence leads to isolation sometimes.

What 20th century composers are your favourites, and why? 

I listen to all kinds of music from classical to pop, so maybe easier is to answer instead, which style is my favourite - jazz. In jazz you still feel power and freedom, what tends to disappear from contemporary music. Sometimes contemporary music feels “pale”, colourless, over-thought, weak. To express emotions is sometimes forbidden.
Just now I like listen to silence. Or sea, wind, storm sounds - what can also sound as music. Emptiness gives you the possibility to load yourself again and find freshness for your creation.
Generally, working and experimenting with electronics brings fresh winds also to my written music.

What is your view on Western music at present, the aesthetical aspect, the personal approach, the use of twelve tones, the use of electronics? Is there a crisis? Is there a future? Has individualism a future?

I don’t believe that individualism gives any positive results. Our society seems to develop towards individualistic/egoistic tendencies, but the same time world is going to be smaller and smaller to human civilization, so I believe, collaboration is our key to future. Western culture is the culture of wasting, it has to change dramatically or die. Personally, maybe music is for me like a secret oasis, like the spring with clear water. Maybe the place, where to escape from reality, search the “absolute” beauty what doesn’t exist? Soon we don’t have anything clean and wild surrounding us.

What do the terms 'new' and 'experimental' mean to you in connection to contemporary music?

To have searching mind and will to develop and experiment, even if you suddenly find yourself in sound-jungle and have to cut yourself the way out of there.

What are your ambitions for the future? 

The most important question to me as a composer is never stop developing, but it’s quite hard to break out from your own shadow, take some new brave steps both in life and in music. And to be open-minded. Your own skills create you basis, but important is never stop to learn yourself something new, a composer can’t work like a copy-machine or composing factory - repeating same patterns again and again.

What would you like to tell composers of contemporary music, or the music world in general, the audience, organizers of festivals or educational institutes? 

Oh... Maybe to be so open-minded as possible.

Thank you Mirjam for this interview.

See also Presentation Mirjam Tally.