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Teddy Hultberg on Threads and Cords: Text appeared in CD-booklet for the Fylkingen Records release of 5 composers - ElectroAcoustic Music from Sweden 1987-91.

'There is no true music but that it makes us acutely aware of time' - E.M. Cioran


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"Threads and Cords was commissioned by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation's group for radiophonic art (Earplay/Örspel) in 1990.Hedman and Karlsson elected to create a work entirely out of sounds made by the human voice or generated by the Chant synthetic voice programme developed at IRCAM in Paris on the basis of research done at the Royal Insitute of Technology in Sweden. They then put much of this material through several stages of processing at EMS, Stockholm using for example Paul Pignon's Giant Fourier Transform and related software. Some of the live recordings were made with a Neumann dummy head to create a 3-D effect (if the listener uses headphones).


Karlsson's surrealist, apocalyptically tinged poetry is read by four interleaving voices in English, French, German and Swedish. But the words have as much a musical function, as acoustic gestures, as bearers of semantic content. This gives Threads and Cords features of a text-sound composition which eminently upholds Herbert Eimert's assertion that among natural sounds the spoken word is that which shows most timbral affinity to electronic sounds.


Text fragments such as:


The cords are at last installed
in the Pillar's control room
the interrogation can begin...



I was clearly wandering in an engine
Since I was carrying fuel within me...



The angels had forgotten us
In the still horror of eternity...



illustrate the existential ground underlying the work. Time, and our desperate efforts to encompass and placate it, is a central theme of Threads and Cords.The work begins with delicate astral bel sounds, leading to wordless choir section, a recurring element, reminding us that our counting of time has its origin in the ritual punctuality of calls to worship. But the central and unifying motoricity is generated by other sounds, meshing into one another like cogs and cams in some fantastic mechanism; an aging , jerky clockwork ticking and rattling in its battle with the stream of time.


The voices float through the continuum of sounds in different but evidently paralell time strata, overlaying one another, statements existing together without meeting, locked in Time whose one-dimensionality has collapsed.We are all locked in Time, but in music all dimensions of time are present now; the past, present and future, and this is the special magic of music, the art which more than any other deals with time and which can sometimes succeed (Threads and Cords) in illuminating and transforming our experience of it, even though we can fleetingly grasp itÉ as through a glass darkly.


Threads and Cords marked the beginning of an unusually fruitful collaboration between composers Hedman and Karlsson, and it is hardly surprising that within one year of the broadcast first performance this work has been played at numerous festivals both in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. It was also chosen by the Swedish Radio to represent Sweden at 1992 International Rostrum of ElectroAcoustic Music, and was awarded the first prize."