Open music player

Per Nørgård


Dacapo Records, 2012

Balancing act

Per Nørgård is the composer most represented in this book of designs and yet I have never worked closely with him. Instead, fairly uniquely, he has always allowed me a lot of freedom to interpret his music in the way I see fit.

The star sign Libra is represented by the scales, and the idea of balance is at
the centre of the title piece on this release. Libra (1973) is a song cycle in ten
movements. The texts include, amongst other things, Rudolf Steiner’s poem
Die Welten erhalten Welten about love, harmony and balance. Per Nørgård writes in his work notes: ‘In accordance with the meaning of the title, the elements of the music are treated on the basis of the harmonically balanced… it is split into forms which at once contrast with and balance one another.’

I started exploring ideas of balance. I worked through sketches of stacked shapes, but I decided that they were a little static and stiff. Trying to find something more dynamic, I searched the open-source visual interactions available in the Wolfram Demonstrations Project – an amazing resource. One algorithm, ‘Tree Bender’ by Theodore Gray, generated branch-like, organic forms.

The shapes in ‘Tree Bender’ not only had a natural, structural balance to
them, the repeated shapes were a welcome reference to Nørgård’s famous
technique, the ‘infinity series’, where he works with musical motifs that repeat
in an hierarchical pattern, like fractals.

I played with the interactive visualisation until I was happy with the form
and then redrew the frame with my own vector lines. I carefully placed the shape under the plastic tray, on the inlay, so that it would fit together with the cover booklet and the disc to create one contrasting and repeating shape.

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