Sounding the North

Have you ever switched on the radio or television at random and heard music which you just know is from a northern country? Maybe it is a snatch of orchestral music, or fiddle music from Norway, or a soundtrack which immediately conjures up in your mind the qualities of a northern landscape.

So what is it that makes northern music sound northern? Is it an association of ideas or experiences? For instance you know that Finland is snowy and Sibelius was Finnish so Sibelius’s soundworld is “the sound of the snowy north”!  Are the clues to a piece of music’s northernness left there intentionally by the composer? Remember Maxwell Davies’s bagpipes, or the titles and myths attached by some composers. Or do some of the inherent qualities of northern places - the seasonality, the remoteness, the long days and nights, the untouched beauty – become a part of the minds of the people who live there? Perhaps northern music sounds different just because its creators breathe the air of a different part of the planet.

The University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with soundfestival, is holding a three-day gathering to explore the validity and nature of the concept of a distinctive northern musical voice. Papers, workshops and presentations will seek to contribute to our understanding of the essence of a northern sound world, aiming to enhance our understanding of how, if it exists, such a sound world can be defined. Publicised events are open to all. 

During the Sounding the North weekend we will be focusing on some of these questions and many others. We will experience new work and consider new ideas through a series of performances, events, talks and discussions. Come and see and hear the diversity of vivid contemporary music brought to us by composers and performers from a wide range of northern lands – Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Scotland and Sweden. Come and listen to the soundconversations and presentations, and join in the discussions!

A pass is available for all Sounding the North events which gives you access to all events and talks (details of talks coming soon). You can book this via £60 full / £30 (conc).

Full programme details: Sounding the North Programme