After 3 weeks of Indian metropolis and up to 40°C it was perfect to land on the Faroe Islands and inhale the fresh air, feeling the rain and wind in the face and being surrounded by calmness and spectacular nature.
One of the only engagements fixed prior to my departure on the journey, was a weekend workshop at Torshavn School of Music’s Musical Basic Course (MGK in Danish) late September. This I have done a few times before, and these trips has been a contributing factor to the Faroe Islands being chosen as one of the 7 destinations. My workshops at the School of Music are focusing on music and body, rhythm training, coordination and improvisation. This time we worked with a Gumboot-inspired body-percussion groove, among other things. This way I managed to tie together the time in Johannesburg with the stay on the Islands, which for me was a fun experience.
Before arriving I’d pictured a Faroese chain dance as one of the interesting aspects on which to try my strength. To solve this challenge, I allied with Kari Sverrisson, who is a Faroese singer interested in chanting lays. I found a lay called Regin and got Kari to record the lead vocal. Thereafter I summoned the student from the Musical Basic Course one evening to record the previously learnt body-percussion groves and the chorus for the lay. Below the chorus I have put a very old recording of the lay to add some fullness and authenticity. Last I created a track with solo bod-percussion to create a little variation in the beat.
Kristian Blak is often referred to as the focal point of Faroese music throughout the last 30-40 years. He is a fireball who arranges several festivals every year, is running the music store Tutl, which is only selling Faroese music, is the leader of multiple orchestras, arranges and composes music, etc. One of Kristians projects is arranging grotto concerts. Sometimes public concerts and sometimes as events and private arrangements. I got my way into playing in the last grotto concert of the year. We put out from Torshavn on the ship “Nordlyset” (Northern Lights), together with an audience of around 30 people. We moored at a grotto on Nolsoy and skipped into 4-5 dinghies, which sailed us to the grotto. Kristian brought a keyboard and an amplifier plus a few horns. I had my melodica and a djembe from the School of Music. One from the audience brought a western concert flute and played along a bit. Unfortunately there was a lot of current and waves during the concert, so some people from the audience got seasick, an engine went out, two audience-boats collided and the boat with the musicians collided with the grotto walls once. Apart from this, though, there were passages of the concert with calm sea and the possibility to enjoy the experience of playing such a unique location and with the amazing timbre of the grotto. Thumbs up to Kristian for arranging these alternative concerts.
Kim Kristensen is a Danish jazz pianist, composer and fusion musician posted abroad, who has lived on the islands for a few years. He teaches at Torshavn School of Music. I spent quite some time together with Kim, and we agreed to inaugurate his home studio, which at the time being was almost ready to use. I thought that it would be interesting to interpret an older Fareose melody, so I asked the singer Unn Paturson, if she would join me and pick out a tune. She chose the tune Litlan by Hans K. Hoejgaard. Thereafter, Kim and I met one morning in his homestudio, and I explored Kim’s huge collection of instruments. I found a wooden box, a small marimba, an udo pot, a harmonium, an Inuit drum of some kind and 24 bells equal to chromatic scale over 2 octaves. The marimbas were in E Minor, so they got to define the key. Then I recorded on instrument at a time, layer on layer. Kim recorded the flute, and the next day I met with Unn at another place to record the vocals for the track.
Last project on the Faroe Islands was and interpretation of a lullaby called Rura Rura. Actually, at first I just wanted to do a solo piano version of the track but then decided to do a trio version. I asked Per Hoejgaard Petersen, who is studying at the Musical Basic Course, and the bass player Agnar Lamhauge. We met for a few hours the night before I travelled home, and we mad a few spontaneous takes of my arrangement of the track.
It was some very cool weeks on the islands, where the amount of music once again surprised me. Only about 15.000 people live in Torshavn, but the amount and quality of music at least equals that of a Danish city four and fives times the size. Next stop Rio de Janeiro